No one is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Those who are most successful, build on their strengths while striving to overcome their weaknesses. It’s not unusual for a trait that initially appears to be a weakness to actually be a strength. I came across the following parable which nicely shows this point.
Many years ago, a farmer had to get his household water from a nearby stream. To get as much water as possible from each trip, he used two large clay pots, each fastened securely to opposite ends of a stout pole.
After he fetched his first load of water, the farmer discovered that the pot on the left side had a small crack, causing it to lose about a third of its water on the trip from the stream back to the house. But the farmer didn’t have another pot to replace the imperfect one. Besides, in spite of the leak, he had enough water from each trip for his daily needs.
The farmer retrieved water in this manner for several years. One day, a neighbor observed the farmer carrying his daily load of water with one of the pots leaking. The neighbor asked the farmer if he knew about the defective pot.
The farmer’s reply surprised the neighbor. “I discovered the leak the first time I filled the pots. I was very disappointed. It had taken me a lot of time to attach the pots to the pole. I didn’t have a replacement pot nor did I have time to replace the imperfect one if I did have another.”
“After several weeks of carrying water, I noticed flowers springing up on the left side of the path I walked each morning. The water from the leaking pot was enabling flowers to grow in the normally hard, dry dirt.”
“Since I really enjoyed looking at the flowers each morning and I had enough water at the end of every trip, I realized the imperfect pot was more valuable to me with its defect than if it had no leak. You see, what I and most people would consider an imperfection was actually an asset.”
Both pots had their own unique strengths. The perfect pot carried a full load of water flawlessly. The cracked pot, while it lost some water, enabled beautiful flowers to grow. Each pot served a different function and was just as important as the other.
This story touches on several issues. Whether a character trait is a strength or weakness is dependent on circumstances as well as what one is trying to achieve. For example, consider the following two people. Irene is a person who is easily bored, enjoys change, likes to work independently, makes decisions quickly, and is a risk taker.
Carol, on the other hand, prefers a predictable routine, likes stability, enjoys working and making decisions with others, and is very cautious when making decisions. Who is a better worker, Irene or Carol? Which of them has more imperfections?
The answer is, it depends. For starting a new business, or striking out on a new venture, Irene’s personality is better suited. Carol is more suitable for managing an established, stable organization.
Don’t be too quick to label a trait of yours or a characteristic of someone else an imperfection. Anything can be interpreted to be a defect when looked at narrowly and out of context.
Our world is diverse. It can only function with the contributions of people with different strengths and abilities. Rather than worry about your imperfections, why not capitalize on your strengths?
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at email@example.com or write him c/o this paper.
© Bryan Golden