In his book, Ego Is The Enemy, author Ryan Holiday talks about what he calls “The Canvas Strategy.” It’s a popular concept among the personal development community. So popular in fact that its excerpt was featured in Tim Ferriss‘ book Tools of Titans.
The strategy was taken from the Romans. The Romans had a word for this type of person. They called them an “anteambulo” which means a person who cleared the path in front of their patron. If you are able to do that successfully, you will secure a fast and educational position.
In today’s lingo, it would translate to make others look good. But these four words “make others look good” make us cringe. It goes against the very essence of the “self made person” culture we are raised in. That everyone one of us is supposed to focus on ourselves and may the best man win.
Now, when I say make others look good, some of you would think it implies a lot of ass kissing and passing your credit to someone else that you don’t feel deserves it as much as you do.
But this isn’t so – it’s a mindset change. It goes from “slaving away my livelihood for someone else” to “giving my best to make others succeed which in turn will make me more successful.”
To quote Ryan himself:
… it’s finding the direction someone already intended to head and help them pack, freeing them up to focus on their strengths. The canvas strategy involves actively finding outlets for other people – in fact, actually making them better rather than simply looking so.
… In other words, discover opportunities to promote their creativity, find outlets and people for collaboration, and eliminate distractions that hinder their progress and focus. It is a rewarding and infinitely scalable power strategy.
The following are his 3 keys to the Canvas Strategy:
1) Find new trains of thought to hand over for them to explore. Track down angles and contradictions and analogies that they can use. Ex: I was reading the biography of ______, I think you should look at it because there may be something you can do with the imagery.
2) Find outlets, people, associations, and connections. Cross wires to create new sparks. Ex: I know _________, and I think you two should talk. Have you thought about meeting ____?
3) Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas. Ex: You don’t need to do ___________ anymore, I have an idea for improving the process, let me try it so you can worry about something else.
There is a common saying that I constantly remind myself –
“If you are willing to make others successful, then you will be successful.”
This can be making your company more successful through exceeding your KPI’s, thus getting you promoted faster.
This can be making your friends more successful through introducing them to other people that would help them in their journey. People will eventually know of you and you will be talking to influencers as a result of word of mouth. You never know where it leads to. (Who doesn’t want to associate with someone who is proactive in their success?)
This can be making your clients more successful through delivering better products and services. My aim with this blog is to make you, my readers more successful, so that in turn, I will get my blog to read by even more people.
Remember, clear the path for others on their journey.
If you wish to listen to the excerpt on The Canvas Strategy in full audio form, click here.