A Tale of Two Flaws

A simple and profound Indian / Chinese / Universal Folk Lore delivered goes thus:

An elderly water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it and the other pot was perfect. The perfect pot always delivered a pot full of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house

The cracked pot? It arrived half full.

For two years this went on daily, with the water bearer delivering one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house.

Of course, the perfect pot was super proud of its accomplishments, thinking it was perfectly fulfilling the purpose for which it was made.

Alas! The sad wee cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection. It was miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been created to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am so ashamed of myself, I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t even get the full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot,

“Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side?

That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.

Pretty cool story huh? Just goes to show – depends on whose looking, you’re perfect!  Or flawed.

The perfect pot fulfilled the job it was made to do, the imperfect pot did half its “real” job and the rest was beyond what it could even have imagined. There’s really no comparison here.

No matter how flawed you think you are, you are making way more of an impact than you know.

Your imperfections are your superpowers. They just require looking at it from a different angle!

Can you think of any flaws or imperfections you have that turned out to be a superpower instead? How did/does that impact your life? Eg: I know someone who thought being super sensitive was a flaw and it turns out she’s now an intuitive and earning a great living from her gift of sensitivity. Rad huh.

Thanks for sharing!

Facebook comments:



  1. says

    Lovely. The other thing to be taken from this is that the “imperfect” pot did his flower watering job without even trying. He was just being himself. He was making the world better in a totally effortless way. Why is it that we find it so difficult to accept and value ourselves for all that we are, and instead try so hard to be something else?

    We’re all a bunch of crack-pots, aren’t we?

    • says

      Ohmyword Lach.. I didn’t pick up on that but how right you are.

      When you are being who you are, it is truly effortless, easy and natural. And then you can’t help but shine your brightest and contribute uniquely like the cracked pot.

      I reckon we don’t see value in just “being” cos we’re always comparing our insides to other people’s outsides and trying to be better people. That’s why we think we have to be someone else to be successful or happy. What a crock..

      On that note, “self improvement” insinuates we’ve got something to fix, that’s why I prefer “self actualisation”. That way, we’re bringing into actuality all of who we are instead of bettering / fixing who we are.

      I love that you pointed that out, thank you so much. #FlyinFreakFlagHigh

  2. says

    Hi Tia! 🙂

    I love this story! 🙂 One “flaw” that comes to mind for myself is that I’m quiet and shy when around people in “real life”. I don’t know what to say and tend to think a lot before saying anything. I used to think that was a flaw, but I’ve been told many times that I’m a great listener and that people really appreciate that. And of course, that comes from being quiet and not saying much myself, so naturally I tend to listen more to what others are saying. 😉

    • says

      There you go, Jess! The biggest gift you could ever give anyone is the gift of truly listening. So your “flaw” my dear, is something coaches are emphatically taught to hone – and it comes so naturally to you, lucky, lucky you! Here’s another way of looking at it – Instead of wanting to be less shy, SPARKLE in shyness!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • says

      I’ve been hearing it for years, just felt inspired to share it yest. Thanks for letting me know it helped put a smile on your face, Vinita 🙂

  3. says

    Thanks so much, Tia, I really needed that!

    I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love”…she’s a tall, bubbly blond woman, always the life of the party wherever she goes, but there’s a section in the book where she talks about how much she loves thick, dark hair and always wished she was “That Quiet Girl.” And I thought, good lord, that’s ME! I’ve always loved my thick dark hair, but I’ve not always loved my quietness. Who knew there could be someone who longs to be just like me? It was a good lesson in perspective, just like the cracked pot story.

    • says

      Ha! Talk about a message from your higher self ay 😉 Your quiet self, like Jess’s in the “Love Letter-Life Purpose” post, is a huge superpower! Glad you’re starting to see that my friend. And like I said to Jess, just cos you’re quiet doesn’t mean you don’t SHINE! There’s a powerful attraction people have for the quieter listeners who don’t need to be the centre of attention to feel good about themselves. Embrace it, baby, you’re a superstar in your own right!

  4. says

    Tia, what a perfect gift this post is… for me, it’s a timely reminder that there is always another perspective, and often times, one that makes us not only feel good about our perceived flaws and so-called weaknesses, but also see how they actually serve the world around us. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Hey Patrick, so great to see a comment from you, thank you! Yes, you said it – there is always another perspective, in fact a few different ones, and we get to pick the experience we want to have by deciding which perspective to go with. For every situation, in every moment, we get to pick. Powerful stuff, huh. It’s a superpower!

  5. says

    I love this story. I heard it years ago, and it made a profound impact on me. One of my “flaws” is having a need for total do nothing time on a regular basis. I used to think this was a MAJOR flaw. Everyone else was in do-do-do mode (or is that doo-doo mode? ;), and I had to stop every week or two and do absolutely nothing. Of course, I used words like “lazy” and “weak.” Now, I believe that those do-nothing times helped me more than I could have understood at the time, because now I understand that we’re not on an action journey but a vibrational one, and every time I stopped and hung out with my dog and watched the rain, I was aligning my energy. It was actually a freaking brilliant thing to do! 🙂 Now, I’m really thrilled that I have that habit. I know how to be still, which is something most people struggle with.

    I love that I got to read this story again because it’s reminding me to look for more useful “flaws.” 🙂

    • says

      It’s like the oceans, Ande. They ebb and flow. Imagine if they stood still constantly? Surfing would not exist, sailing would not exist and many beach bums would be a sad sorry lot.

      Your reply is so valuable, I hope everyone reads it and gets that part about being on a vibrational journey and how important it is to have the intentional downtimes. I don’t think I will ever call myself lazy again either. It’s just what it is.

      Yes, like Patrick said in his reply, flaws have 2 or more perspectives so I say the more you find, the more perspectives you can change. Yay! I mean, YAY!

  6. says

    Hi Tia!

    Ah, the age old crack pot lore. Something that was recited over and over again during our school days. Back then it didn’t really hold much weight. We think you did a great job retelling it and opening our eyes to the real lesson behind it. 🙂

    It’s funny how your weakness or flaw in one area is turned into a strength in another. Perhaps you don’t have many friends and are deemed anti-social but that just means you spend more time with your family or volunteering for causes you believe in. Perhaps you’re bad at cooking up scrumptious dinner party meals but that just means you have enough energy to be the best hostess ever. It’s all a matter of give and take as well as changing the perspective you view your traits in.

    Btw, Shaheera finds you incredibly inspiring and she wishes she could be just like you. 😉

    Thanks for the awesome posts Tia!

    Tariq and Shaheera

    • says

      Yay, new blog visitors turned commentors! Yay! My fave kinda visitors 😀 Welcome, Tariq and Shaheera, welcome! *Rolls out the red carpet and bows most graciously*

      And thank you Shaheera for that most generous of compliments *smile stretching as far as the river Nile 🙂 :)*. I’d hazard a guess that you already ARE a hugely inspirational person and impact many people around you whether you realise it or not.

      For every quality one sees in others, you only see cos you possess it in YOU. You beacon of shining awesomeness, you!

      Now that that’s done .. lol .. (can you tell how excited I get to make new friends?) 🙂

      You’ve just added another dimension to this story with your examples – of course being shy doesn’t just mean you could be a good listener, but that you could use that in many other situations! Good one, guys.

      Changing perspectives is key, for sure and what a world of difference it makes huh. Just came back from watching The King’s Speech and it struck me how everyone but the King could see his potential.

      All it took was believing in himself and seeing what others saw, for him to rock his speech out. His weakness becomes his greatest strength cos it helps him overcome his speech impediment and really own his power, triumphing over an “impossible” sitch!

      Really, we ALL have that power within us. We just need reminding of it sometimes. Thanks so much for reading and sharing, you two.

  7. Fernando de Saracho says

    Un Cuento de dos Defectos
    by Tia on March 4, 2011 ·
    Un simple y profundo cuento folclórico de origen Hindú / Chino / y Universal que dice así:
    Un viejano cargaba dos vasijas, cada una colgaba de un palo que atravesaba su espalda.

    Una de las vasijas tenia una rajadura y la otra vasija era perfecta. La perfecta siempre llegaba llena de agua después de la ardua caminata desde el arroyo hasta la casa del patrón a donde era llevada a diario.
    Y la rajada? Llegaba siempre a la mitad
    Todos los días durante dos años, el agua llegaba incompleta a la casa del patrón.
    Por supuesto que la vasija perfecta estaba muy orgullosa de su perfección, pensaba que hacia su trabajo a la perfección.
    Al mismo tiempo! La vasija rajada y triste, avergonzada de su imperfección se sentía miserable de no poder cumplir con su propósito al 100%.

    Un día estando en el arroyo y después de dos años de sentirse amargada y fracasada la vasija rajada le comento al cargador: “Estoy tan avergonzada de mi misma quisiera disculparme contigo”
    “de que te avergüenzas”? pregunto el cargador.
    “Durante los dos últimos años solo he podido entregar la mitad del agua por el defecto que tengo y esto provoca que se derrame la mita durante el camino entre el arroyo y la casa de tu patrón. Debido a mi defecto tu tienes que hacer todo este trabajo y ni si quiera obtienes el valor complete por tus esfuerzos” dijo la vasija.
    El cargador se sintió triste por la vasija rota, y en su compasión le dijo: “Cuando regresemos a la casa del patrón quiero que te fijes en las flores tan hermosas que hay junto al camino”
    Dicho y hecho, cuando venían de regreso subiendo la loma, la vasija rajada se dio cuenta de las flores salvajes pero preciosas que calentaba el sol a la orilla del camino, y esto le dio un sentimiento de bienestar.
    Pero al final del camino, se sintió triste por que había tirado la mitad de su agua y de nuevo se disculpo con el cargador.
    El cargador le dijo a la vasija,
    “Notaste que las flores estaban solo del lado donde tu pasas por el camino pero no en el otro lado?”
    Yo siempre he sabido de tu defecto, y le he sacado provecho. Plante semillas de flores solo al lado de tu camino, y todos los días mientras caminábamos del arroyo a la casa del patrón tu las regabas sin darte cuenta.
    Durante dos años he podido cortar estas flores tan hermosas para llevárselas y decorar la mesa del patrón. Sin tu defecto no podría haberle dado esta gracia de hermosura a su casa.
    Muy Buena historia verdad? No importa como estés, depende de quien te este viendo vas a ser perfecto o imperfecto.
    La vasija perfecta hacia el trabajo que debía hacer, la imperfecta hacia la mitad de su trabajo “ideal” y el resto fue algo que nadie pudo haber imaginado. Realmente no hay comparación aquí.
    No importa que tantas fallas crees que tengas, estas hacienda un impacto mas grande que el que crees.
    Tus imperfecciones son tus súper poderes. Solo requieren verlos de un ángulo distinto.

    Puedes pensar de alguna falla o imperfección que se haya convertido en un súper poder?
    Como ha impactado tu vida?

  8. says

    I hate to give this discussion a “religious” bent, which is not my intent, but I happened to be searching for a principle that is often described in terms of what might seem a defect in a pot, but is in actuality a potter’s mark or “seal of the creator” when I found this post. I always liked the interpretation that we are created with a job to do, with a part of ourselves to be completed, that we may not simply be creations like, say, robots; that we not be senseless drones, but partners in our own authorship. One may say that the cracked pot did not know that s/he was watering flowers, but I would prefer to think of that as a moment of realization. The other pot was not likely “perfect” either, but it was the “reflection” of the cracked pot, perhaps the pot’s model of an “ideal Self.” Curious, though, that as I write what I originally thought of as a Judaic principle, it occurs to me that The Buddha becomes “The Enlightened One” through his own realization. If I have erred in interjecting religion, perhaps I can be forgiven by not letting my comment be dominated by a purely deistic view 😉


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