Be Smart About Art

What are your Art World Superpowers?

written by: Susan J Mumford July 1, 2018 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 794 views

What are your Art World Superpowers?

Have you ever noticed yourself avoiding doing a certain something by working on every single other item on the to-do list, including those that aren’t urgent at all? Well you’re only human, and everyone must be guilty of doing this. 

Think about it this way: such avoidance is a natural way of playing to your strengths, and when you notice this happening, pay attention, as it’s useful insight. 

Whether you’re not getting to the task of inputting of numbers into a spreadsheet near a tax filing deadline or are not putting together an email campaign in the lead up to an exhibition, you’ll help the health of your enterprise and projects alike by facing up to your strengths and weaknesses. 

Val Wright*, an innovation expert who is the author of Thoughtfully Ruthless (what an excellent title!), presents a simple way to evaluate professional activities. Using this exercise**, place each activity into one of the three following categories:  

  • Superpower: It comes naturally.
  • Energy Zapper: You can do it, but it takes effort and deliberate attention.
  • Danger Zone: Others do this much better.

It might seem easy at first glance, however, trust me, this worthwhile exercise takes time. 

When working with various artists and dealers on this exercise, I’ve found that it’s best to start with identifying Superpowers, and to complete Energy Zapper and Danger Zone alongside one another. Identifying your Superpowers is both enjoyable and reaffirming, and helps you to understand what you’ll naturally be inclined to do. The tricky bit is to avoid placing everything else under ‘Danger Zone’. 

Consider email marketing. When working with groups of professional artists, I’ve found that many have been tempted to place this activity under Danger Zone, and yet it should often fall under Energy Zapper. Why? Firstly, creative professionals often excel at marketing activities, thanks to having fantastic ideas. Secondly, putting together an email campaign can require re-learning how to use a platform, not to mention getting your head around recent changes to it, and also forces you to face any concerns about being salesy and unauthentic. While an understandable response is avoidance, this doesn’t mean that it’s in your Danger Zone. Instead, it could be an Energy Zapper. 

After readily identifying Superpowers and you have a list of everything Alke, give serious thought to placing items under Danger Zone or Energy Zapper. Danger Zone activities best done by someone else, as you don’t have the necessary skill set and would be hard pressed to acquire it. Energy Zapper items are those that you can do, yet can find draining. 

As for what to do with the results... 

When you’re doing collaborative projects, you can focus on activities that are Super Powers and still pursue some that are Energy Zappers, according to the strengths and weaknesses of all involved individuals. As for activities that fall under your Danger Zone, ideally identify someone in the group for whom its a Super Power, or otherwise an Energy Zapper. 

Then for your own enterprise and projects, endeavour to bring in others to complete Danger Zone activities, and find a balance for addressing items that are Energy Zappers. 

Time to situate yourself in a place that you find comfortable that’s ideal for blue sky thinking - for me, it’s situating myself in nature, as seen in the above picture, and work out your own Superpowers, Energy Zappers and Danger Zone. 


* See Val's book: Also check out her website: 

**See Val's article in Inc.: This Million Dollar Advice Will Make You An Outstanding Leader (published Feb 26, 2015).


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