How Young Leaders can Turn Principles into Perspective

In my interview with Gerald Brooks, he encouraged us to get around leaders who are closer to the end of their journey than they are the beginning. Why? He said, “Because young leaders can teach you principles, but mature leaders can teach you perspective.”  

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the value of life experience.  I think it’s worth sharing a paragraph from that post again:

“What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is, for the most part, incommunicable. The laws, the aphorisms, the generalizations, the universal truths, the parables and the old saws—all of the observations about life which can be communicated handily in ready, verbal packages—are as well-known to a man at twenty who has been attentive as to a man at fifty. He has been told them all, he has read them all, and he has probably repeated them all before he graduates from college; but he has not lived them all.

What he knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty boils down to something like this: The knowledge he has acquired with age is not the knowledge of formulas, or forms of words, but of people, places, actions—a knowledge not gained by words but by touch, sight, sound, victories, failures, sleeplessness, devotion, love—the human experiences and emotions of this earth and of oneself and other men; and perhaps, too, a little faith, and a little reverence for things you cannot see.”

-You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.-


One of the hardest parts of being a young leader is knowing the principles, but now having the perspective needed to make the most of them. We often want the respect and influence that comes with perspective, without having to do the hard work of turning principles into perspective. 

As young leaders, if we are ever going to gain the perspective we need to lead, we must not just learn principles, but we must learn how to turn those principles into perspective.

How do you turn principles into perspective?

1.) By Paying the Price to Get around Mentors who can take us further, FasterJust because we know a principle doesn’t mean we have the perspective to properly apply it to our lives. We need to take the principles we are learning to the mentors in our lives and ask them to help us apply them to our lives.

2.) By Gaining as much Experience as you Can – Bill Hybels encourages young leaders to, “Always be leading something.” Regardless of where we are in our journey, we can always be applying the principles we’re learning. If you can’t get the experience you want in your current job, see if you can find opportunities volunteering at your church, a local non-profit, or somewhere in your community.

[shareable cite=”Zig Ziglar”]’You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’ [/shareable]

Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Too often, I see young leaders use their lack of experience hold them back from starting. If you don’t start, you’ll never gain perspective! Think about it, everyone who has the perspective that comes with experience and success had to start by applying principles they learned.

  • All great authors started writing long before they become known authors
  • All great leaders started leading long before they became known leaders
  • All great speakers started speaking long before they became known speakers
  • All great parents spent years parenting before they became known for parenting
  • All great entrepreneurs spent years creating and building things before they were known
  • All great __________ started doing what they’re great at before they became known for it

Before anyone has the wisdom that perspective brings in any area of life, they had to spend years learning and applying the principles.

John Maxwell said something that’s encouraged me greatly in this area. He said, “In the beginning of any journey, you are not as bad as people think. However, if you do things right in life, in the end, you’re not as good as people think. Somewhere in between those two is where you should live.” 

Start gaining experience with principles now, so you can share the wisdom of perspective later!

3.) Time – Unfortunately, this is the one we can’t do anything about! It is simply going to take years and years of experience in order to turn some principles into perspective. However, we do have control over how we use the time we have. The more intentional you are with your time now, the faster you can turn principles into perspective.

Start now, apply the principles you know, and repeat that process over and over again! Overtime, you’ll start turning principles into perspective!

Thoughts? Comment below!


  • How else can you turn principles into perspective?
  • What areas of your life do you know the principles, but haven’t started applying them in order to turn them into perspective?
    • What are you going to do about them? Make a plan and start!

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