Proverbs Do Not Apply To White
This particular proverb - which obviously doesn't apply to White, hehe - applies to handicap games. Proverbs are designed to guide you to a natural way of playing Go, subconciously applying the results of centuries of effort building up Go knowledge. Proverbs make honest, proper play.
There are those who believe that in a handicap game, all White has to do is applying the Go concepts and play good moves, and that the mistakes of the opponent (relative to White's strength, of course) will make him lose the game.
There are those, however, who believe White has to commit some overplay from time to time, tenuki somewhat early, forego the honte, and rely on fighting skill to overcome the weakness created by the handicap.
For the latter school of thought, proverbs don't apply to White , because playing good moves will not be enough to win the game.
But if White is stronger, he will have a better understanding of the exceptions to proverbial wisdom. Handicap games can also be won by playing strange-looking moves that are nearly correct. It would be Black who followed proverbs blindly.
tderz: Charles mentions 'exceptions' above -which simply form the new proverb:
White is behind (on the board) from the very beginning of a handicap game,
thus has to play differently (light, leaving weak groups open for attack, taking risks) than proverbs for even games would advocate.
See also Black Should Resign If One Player Has Four Corners :-)