In ancient roman period there existed a practice about which few know today. The businessmen and other influential people acted as patrons for painters and writers in return of something which required more than their artistry. They acted as ‘Anteambulo’. The term literally translates to ‘clearing the path’. The artists had the responsibility to walk in front of their patrons, communicating messages and finding directions for them. It was like a give and take relation wherein the artists got the necessities of life and patrons for their work. On the other hand, the influential businessmen got artists to clear the path for them.
So, why am I narrating such an ancient practice in this article?
Leading requires a habit of following. A leader with no experience is actually, more inferior than a follower. Referring to the practice of Anteambulo, it was the artist who had to clear the path for his patron. It can be seen in two perspectives:
•The egoistic approach: Serving someone by finding paths for them may sound rude . An artist may go on to describe the practice as biased and discriminatory and may despite the upper castes in his works. But while he does that, he forgets how, because of his patron, he was able to bring his views and arts to life and to the people.
• The humble approach: Clearing the path for someone else may equal to serving someone but while clearing the path and finding directions( both physical and philosophical) for your superior you makes it easy for the master to flourish which in turn provides you with your necessities of life and your art AND you learn where to go, what to avoid, the right method and the right direction as you have been giving directions to the patron. Clearing the path for yourself becomes easy and crystal clear.
The point of the approach is, when a master flourishes, so does the follower.
What is the significance of ‘Anteambulo’ in today’s world?
Its endless. In today’s world where ego dominates every other person, the theory of Anteambulo acts like a lesson. Who even likes their bosses and seniors at work? They seem so bossy to most. It hurts your image of yourself. You end up asking questions to yourself and sometimes to them:
•Who are you to be so bossy? Who do you think you are?
Answer: Who do YOU think you are? You are questioning to someone superior who knows what they are doing and who definitely know who they are. They struggled to be there.
But who are YOU? Your high grades? Your skills? Your beauty? Your ‘idea’ of yourself? No. Sometimes all we know or all we ‘think’ we know is too less or too wrong.
You are your patience, your curiosity, your morals, your determination, your action and above all, your humility. Every person born till date was blessed with humility and polluted with ego. They either cleaned it up or set up more factories in themselves.
• Its him/her who benefits out of my hard work! He won’t give me credit so I will not do the work either. Why should I?
Answer: Because it’s not about the credit, its about the learning. Using the ‘I loose so he looses too’ formula will make you the biggest looser. Ryan Holiday refers to this practice as the ‘Canvas Strategy‘. In Ryan Holiday’s words, ‘Find canvas for other people to paint on’ . And definitely, not ask credits for finding the canvas but learn from what and how the other paints.
Push someone who is really good at doing something so that they can do better and you can learn from them.
When you start with a new job or a course or when you’re training for some new sports, you have no knowledge of it. Even If you do, its not enough. Knowing theoretical knowledge and gaining practical knowledge together, makes you grow. In order to gain practical knowledge, you need to observe, learn and look up to someone who is better than you.
Being an Anteambulo is never wrong.
Have you ever helped someone without expectations? Just for the sake of helping?
Then, congratulations. You are an Anteambulo too.
Helping someone out of a problem or just listening to one’s problems can make wonders. The other person may feel better, get back their hope or something even better….they may be the better version of themselves!
After all it is the small things that make big changes.
Observe them. See how your advices, how your love for them makes them grow. With time, you may learn to solve problems with ease. That will be a lesson. A learning.
Being the Anteambulo and bringing up better work and new ideas to your seniors,boss,friend,teacher or coach
may assist them in doing the best in new ways and you may too, in the process, learn how to make use of these new ideas in a similar way to succeed.
Don’t run for the credit but for the knowledge. Every learner is a leader.