Be Smart About Art

Pay attention to gut instinct

written by: Susan Mumford Feb. 8, 2015 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 3983 views

Pay attention to gut instinct

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

One recent winter’s evening, ahead of a day-long event , I arranged for a taxi to collect me in the morning. This arrangement would make it possible for me to travel across London with a car-load of supplies.

Early the next morning the driver calls to say he’s down the street, becuase there are no parking spaces outside the house. Upon looking out the front door, I notice that there is not just one, but several available spaces.

When I found the driver, I pointed out the spaces and motioned for him to park so I could load the vehicle. However, the man wasn’t comfortable with parallel parking and remained half in the space, half in the street, blocking the road for other cars. I then asked if he would kindly put down the seats to provide room for my supplies. With a perplexed gaze on his face, he explained that he didn’t know how to do this.

I paused, and quickly reviewed the scenario. The taxi driver hadn’t been able find a clearly marked house, didn’t know how to parallel park and hadn’t the foggiest idea how to put down seats in his car. Could I trust the man to safely drive me through London traffic during rush hour? In short, “no” was the answer.

Though there was little time to spare, I advised the man to head on his way, and arranged alternative transportation. Though it would take time for another driver to arrive, I was confident that the right decision had been made, for the best reason of all (my safety).

We all come across scenarios in which snap decisions must be made, and these incorporate weighing up what’s important.

Something was telling me not to get in that car. This one comes up time and time again, personally and professionally. With the taxi driver, I decided to play it safe rather than take a risk with my personal safety.

It’s amazing the number of times that art dealers have said to me that they knew in their gut that an artist was going behind their back but didn’t do anything about it. Similarly, artists have reported they knew at a first meeting that a dealer was untrustworthy. Though your gut instinct won’t be correct 100% of the time, it’s important to pay attention. Often, the ‘gut instinct’ is your subconscious mind putting two and two together. The next task is to put together objective facts to make a rational decision.  

In the case of the taxi driver, my subconscious mind started to throw up red warning flags. Rationally weighing up the options, I made a decision based on big-picture perspective.

Though it’s easy to override, don’t forget to listen to your gut instinct. 


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Photographs © Chris King.