Be Smart About Art

On becoming a proactive angel

written by: Susan Mumford May 17, 2015 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 3806 views

On becoming a proactive angel

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

If you’re a business owner, the phrase “the buck stops with you” is one you understand, perhaps all too well. Over the last ten years, I’ve personally had four separate enterprises. With every single one there have been times when things I wanted to do have been dropped, sometimes permanently, in order to deal with something else that, frankly, I’d rather not spend time doing.

I encourage you to be at peace with the notion that sometimes, no matter what else you’re doing, you have to turn your attention to something that must be dealt with. Putting your head in the sand won’t make problems go away.

One challenging aspect of embracing the notion that the buck stops with you is that it can quite understandably find it difficult to ever switch off. You’re constantly ready to respond to a crisis. Does this mindset sound familiar? I call it reactive.

Many people exist for large parts of their lives in reactive mode. Workplaces that put heavy demands on staff and constantly change employees’ priorities are creating reactive environments. People who spend too much time replying to emails – including at times of the day that are instead optimal for doing creative work, are operating in the reactive mindset.

If you run your own creative enterprise, it’s up to you to not get stuck reacting, but to take matters into your own hands and create a proactive environment. This enables you to be open to positively responding to crises when they occur.

Consider this scenario from the past weekend, in the world of Susan:

Here I am in New York City, whizzing about visiting events during Frieze Art Week. The number one challenge presented by the annual art event is geography. Frieze New York, the mothership of the fairs, takes place on Randalls Island, which is remotely located and accessible by ferry, bus, taxi and helicopter. The fair next in line is Art Miami New York (yes, that’s the Art Miami fair, taking place in New York City), located on the West Highway. Then consider then the NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) Fair, which is situated down at the bottom of Manhattan Island on the East River. This isn’t to mention some smaller fairs, such as Select and 1:54 The African Art Fair.

The number of hours required to travel to the various events adds up. When that I had left my US mobile phone on a Frieze bus, I accepted that the number one priority was maintaining my phone number. This required trekking all the way back to Randalls Island to retrieve it, losing precious hours visiting fairs.

This is a wee example of the types of decisions business owners make on a daily basis. In every situation, it’s important to consider the bigger picture and take action accordingly. By becoming an angel for your own business, priorisiting and being proactive, you keep keep things moving in the right direction.   

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