Why Leaders Need to See the World through ‘Young Eyes’

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Originally posted May 1, 2012

This week the board of WCA Canada meets here at Willow Creek near Chicago, bringing back to mind a key moment from 2012.

At our meeting in the spring of that year one of the board members shared an insightful comment that deeply impacted me.

This week, I thought it was worth sharing again…

There’s nothing quite like proven, reliable experience to help a leader navigate through the toughest of challenges.

But at a recent gathering of the board of The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada, I was reminded of an important quality in leadership that is an essential companion to experience.

It’s the ability to see the world through ‘young eyes’.

As our meetings concluded one of the board members closed in prayer by asking God to bless each of these seasoned leaders seated around the table by granting us young eyes with which to view the world.

By this he meant the ability to balance experience with a youthful outlook.

As I reflected on this later, I recognized just how vital a quality this is. And I was reminded too that after years in the trenches, leaders may need to exercise the daily discipline of choosing to view the world through a youthful lens.

But the leadership payoff is worth it. Specifically, if you choose to see the world with young eyes you will develop three distinct advantages:

1.   You will develop an exuberant optimism

Along with wisdom and perspective, longevity in leadership can also sometimes bring with it a certain jaded cynicism.

But when you see the world through young eyes you continue to see possibilities in any situation.

2.   You will develop endless curiosity

Years of experience can have the unfortunate side effect of causing a leader to view certain outcomes as inevitable.

But choosing to see the world through young eyes creates within you an insatiable curiosity to understand why things are the way they are, and then a refusal to believe things have to stay that way.

3.   You will develop stubborn resiliency

Spending years in the trenches of leadership can yield invaluable perspective and understanding.

But with young eyes you can add to this an uncanny ability to rebound from failed attempts.

The paradox is that the more experience you attain in your leadership, the more discipline may be required to maintain this youthful outlook.

But the results are worth the effort.

How do you ensure you continue to see the world through young eyes?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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