Let’s face it, no matter who you are, all what you do, every so often you will have some days in your life when thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity attack you like a swarm of bees. This could be due to certain things happening in your life at that particular moment such as multiple failures in projects you are handling, a bad relationship, stagnated business,etc. Well, we are not super-beings (like superman or superwoman). I believe this lack of the component called “super” then allows us to feel these things – in my view, that’s what makes us all human. However, what is not allowed is for you to stay in that state of self-doubt and insecurity for long. You need to snap out of it as fast as you can, re-organize your thoughts and move on with life.
One of the reasons why we feel insecure and unsure of ourselves is when we are surrounded by people who constantly point out at our failures and inadequacies. When all you hear about is what you have done wrong and never what you have done right, then it is very easy to think there is no good in you. Indeed the saying, “when you do good nobody remembers but when you do bad nobody forgets” seems to be real in your life. Well, if it helps, then let me tell you that you are not alone. Most of us go through this every day of our lives. The only difference is that we have learnt not to accept the negative vibe that is sent to us. So every time someone says something negative, I counter that with something positive – or sometimes sarcastic.
For instance, if someone calls me stupid, I might revert back and tell them it takes one stupid person to recognize another. I do not allow people’s twisted perception of me define who I am. I know who I am, period. Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I’m perfect, no I am not. In fact, I am the most imperfect person I know, and I have real struggles and weaknesses that I’m dealing with right now. I just don’t let people amplify them or use them against me. I however do not say no to positive or constructive criticism but as soon as I detect the beginning of destructive criticism, my guard goes up and at that point you can talk to my hand. So if the next time you are talking to me you suddenly realize you are having a monologue, then chances are likely that somewhere along the line negativity started spewing out of your mouth.
None of us is perfect but if we can learn to live with one another’s imperfections, if we can learn to use them to our advantage, then we can create a very beautiful environment for each of us to continue being who we are without feeling inadequate. For you to understand what I mean by this, here is a short story I read a while back about “the cracked pot”. It is possible that some of you may have read it but the lesson from this story is worth re-reading it again and again. Here goes….
“A water bearer in India 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 while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and 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 get 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 somewhat. 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.”
We’re all cracked pots. Each of us has our own unique flaws. In this world, nothing goes to waste. You may think, just like the cracked pot, that you are inefficient or useless in certain areas of your life, but somehow these flaws can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Stop focusing on your flaws and instead focus on the good you do.
I do not know what part of your pot (read life) is cracked. I do not know what kind of insecurities this crack brings to your life. One thing I do know is that you are here on this planet for a reason. You are alive for a purpose. Stop focusing on your inadequacies, weaknesses and cracks.
Like one E. B. White said,“Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one.”
You are a genius in a cracked pot. Never forget that. Now go on and explore your genius this week.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 27th September, 2015, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".