What Avocados Teach Us About Leadership

box of AvocadosSome time ago, I spent some time with a long-time mentor. I was describing some leadership issues and asked for his advice. He cited a Latino farming proverb. I won’t try to say it in Spanish; I’ll just offer its meaning: “The avocados sort themselves out in the walking.” (Or, something like that.)

I don’t like avocados. In fact, I’ve never even tried them. (gasp) I really don’t know how that happened growing up in Southern California, with its bountiful avocado groves. Because I don’t like avocados, unfortunately, I also know little about them.

My friend and mentor told me that avocados are extremely easy to bruise. (I did know that part.) So, farmers used to try to arrange them just the right way in the box after picking. However, they still experienced great difficulty keeping them from bruising.

Over time, the farmers noticed that if avocados were simply set in the box, they would settle themselves in just the right formation as the farmer simply left them alone and walked on. It was his way of saying, “There’s a time to plan and to act strategically. There’s also a time to just let things settle in as we walk on. Sometimes we bruise things up in our efforts fit things in rather than letting them fit.”

After thinking about his words, I’m pretty sure he’s right.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll give avocados another shot. If nothing else, whenever I see one, I’ll look at it and remember that there’s a time to arrange things … and a time to walk on … and a time to let things settle themselves.

Tim-Spivey-bloggerTim Spivey is lead planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, CA. Tim is also an adjunct professor of religion at Pepperdine University and purveyor of New Vintage Leadership, a blog offering cutting-edge insights on leadership and theology. He is the author of numerous articles and the book Jesus, the Powerful Servant. This post is adapted from a prior post.


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