Can You Paint a Picture of Yourself Doing This?


Blank billboard

Business person standing near a blank billboard

“If you want to lead, you have to first learn to follow”.

As mentioned in Tim Ferriss’s new book (Tools of Titans – a great book!), he described “The Canvas Strategy” as propounded by Ryan Holiday.

The basics are very relevant — for millennials starting out in the job market and actually for all of us: If one focuses on helping others be successful (including immediate bosses), then you will develop faster and be more successful.

This isn’t insincerely “kissing ass” — this is about providing support so that others can be good! The metaphor of “canvas” is “Find canvases for other people to paint on. Clear the path for the people above you and you will eventually create a path for yourself”.

It goes so far as to even being genuinely glad when others get credit instead of you.

As Tim notes, examples include:

  • “Maybe it is coming up with ideas to hand over to your boss.
  • Find people, thinkers, up-and-comers to introduce to each other. Cross wires to Create new sparks.
  • Find what nobody else wants to do and do it.
  • Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
  • Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away”.

As noted, I have attempted personally to let this become a natural and permanent part of my daily interactions and contributions to organisations  — and it works at all levels of the organisation!  (This particularly was important in places like Japan — but it applies to all business and geographic settings).

You can start doing it even today!


About addedval

Ken's journey has been as a pathfinder who seeks out opportunities for making a real difference to global teams working together effectively and realising amazing business results. This covers his work as a Partner for a major management consulting company in multiple countries, as an entrepreneur with starting and selling various businesses, as a property developer and capital raiser and as head of various boutique consultancies.
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