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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Lessons Learned in Italy: Who Will Surpass You?

Last week, my family spent a week in Italy, visiting Venice, Florence and Rome. It was an unforgettable celebration of two graduations and a thirtieth wedding anniversary.  All four of us (my wife and two kids) have always wanted to visit Italy.

Over the next few days, I’d like to scribble down for you the life lessons I learned while I was in this country, rich with history and culture.

While in Florence, we did a walking tour and stopped at the Piazza Duomo. It was there we learned that two of the biggest artists in history got their start. Centuries ago, Brunelleschi was inventing all kinds of lights and machines as well as designing several beautiful buildings. He was brilliant. During one year, he entered a contest to see which architect could design the most beautiful dome for the top of a church. Brunelleschi entered the contest and won. His claim that he could build it without any scaffolding was so remarkable—that city officials required him to build two smaller versions before they’d let him take on such a gigantic project. When he’d finished, he began on the church.

Needless to say, the project was huge. Brunelleschi would have to enlist several fresh, budding artists to finish on time; young men with talent yet who would not cost a lot to employ. Two of them turned out to be quite the investment: Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Because both worked excruciatingly hard, their mentor gave them extra responsibilities. Da Vinci drew pictures of what he was learning and Michelangelo took copious notes. Obviously, both men did quite well impacting not only Florentine culture, but all of history.

What I didn’t know was that this man, Brunelleschi was the one who launched the two artists. His inventive mind and out-of-the-box creations inspired the minds of both of the young artists—and the rest, as they say, is history.

While many know the name Brunelleschi, everyone knows the names of the two young artists he employed. Their work surpassed his. It made me pause to ask the question: what budding young talented student am I pouring into, hoping she or he surpasses my work?

I’m just saying…



  1. Lisa on May 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Tim, great thought!  Oh, that I may be slightly, even remotely remembered but those I pour into will be widely known and greatly used in the world long after I’m gone!  Amen – 
    Sorry I am missing conference this year….have a big wedding same weekend I must attend.
    next year!

    • Tim Elmore on June 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Thanks, Lisa. We’ll miss you at National Leadership Forum this year but hope you have a great weekend at the wedding!

  2. Jackie on June 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    fantastic post.  Making disciples… important investment..inspired intention..impart impact!
    Noted the exponential effect also.

    • Tim Elmore on June 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

      We can never forget how important this task is – even when we don’t see the results immediately!

      • GoldJAmes on June 8, 2021 at 7:18 am

        Reading about Brunelleschi is so interesting on how he did all his work on street lights and mechanics. And the most interesting was his design. How can a person be this talented. This inspired me to do more things and begin with more ideas.

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Lessons Learned in Italy: Who Will Surpass You?