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Your flaws are an opportunity waiting to happen

July 31, 2016

We all know that women are very good at multi-tasking, something men are not very gifted in unless it involves the remote control and food – no offense men. A woman could be in the sitting room breastfeeding the baby, at the same time sewing a button on her child’s shirt, while watching her favorite soap on Television, and talking to you on phone but is still capable of hearing the conversation going on in the kitchen between her teenage kids and the househelp. That’s the strength of a woman. I don’t know how we do it but we do it. Probably that’s why they say women’s brains are more used up than men’s brains. Again, no offense to you men!

However, with all the multi-tasking abilities given to women by the all-powerful and mighty Gentleman upstairs, I still don’t understand what happens to most women the moment they start driving. I don’t mean to demean my fellow women but I have noticed that when on the road, the multi-tasking feature in them instantly becomes disabled in MOST of them; please note I have used the word “most” and not ALL. For instance, a woman will be in traffic and when her phone goes off, if she does not have the handbrake in place she is very likely to lift her foot off the brakes and hit the car in front of her. I have seen this happen so many times hence my conclusion that there are some women who cannot multi-task while on the road.  For such women (and everyone else for that matter), I suggest they keep their phones on silent and away until they get to their destination, or they pull-over to the side to answer the call then get back on the road once done. As a matter of fact, this is what we should all be doing, even for those of us who can drive “hands-free”.

These female drivers remind me of the first time I drove in Dar. I was so scared that for the first few weeks, I used to leave home at 5:30am and leave the office at 10:00pm so as to drive when there were as few cars as possible. I was so scared that I would always make sure that I stuck on one lane from the moment I left home/office to the time I got to my destination. I never used to shift my eyes from my focus, which was the road ahead of me. I never used to drive more than 50Kph and if anyone dared hoot at me, I would completely ignore them and remain focused on my goal which was to get to my destination at my own speed, my own route and in the most comfortable way I knew how. Gradually, as I got used to the Dar traffic and mad drivers, I became more confident and eventually, I increased my speed from 50Km/h to 90Km/h and eventually some insane speeds. Let’s just say I have done the full speedometer on a 180Km/h vehicle at least twice and now looking forward to bend the pin on a 240Km/h. Watch this space.

This whole driving scenario reminds me of what I have been writing about this whole month of July; how to set your goals and ensure you achieve them. If today is the first time you are reading this column since the month begun, then you need to visit www.liz-wachuka.com to read the previous articles on this topic. But just to summarize, the first article that went out on 3rd of July talked about how you can have a New Year right smack dead in the middle of the year. The next one was about how commitment and total focus are necessary ingredients in ensuring you meet your goals. Then came the article about change; you cannot expect to get different results from what you have been getting if you continue doing the same things you have been doing. 

Today I want to wrap up this topic by touching on something that most people seem to ignore, or not understand; the danger of comparing yourself to others.

I have mentioned severally in previous articles that none of us was born to be a loser. We were all born to fulfill a certain purpose, a purpose which if fulfilled will bring success and satisfaction to our lives. Unfortunately not many people fulfill this purpose or to put it in other words, not everyone attains their destiny. Why is this? There are many reasons but today I want to focus on one major issue that seems to plague very many people; comparing ourselves to others.

I like what Margaret Meade said; “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else”. What does this mean? It means that even though we are all human beings, each one of us has a different destiny prepared for them. Everyone has their own path they need to follow in order to succeed in life. That is why we have people who have become successful by being comedians but if you were not born to be a comedian, if your destiny does not lie in comedy then you will be risking rotten eggs being thrown at you by the audience you expect to entertain. Similarly, if your success does not lie in singing, no matter how much you try to practice singing you will always end up singing in key “M” (it does not exist in the music language just in case you are wondering).

In other words, just because someone else excelled in singing or comedy or writing does not mean that you will too if you attempt the same thing. That was their pre-destined path. You have yours too and unless you stop copying others, you will never amount to anything much. You might look at yourself today and think your role or your destiny has no significance in this world. How wrong you are! It doesn’t matter whether you are a toilet cleaner, or a driver; if you enjoy doing what you are doing then you are on your path to discovering your purpose.

Today’s article is the last installment to the Goals sequel that I have been writing about this whole month of July. However, before I sign out of this topic, I’d like to share a short story I have once before shared but today’s perspective is different from the previous one. Here goes….

A water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, 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 always arrived only half full.

For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, fulfilled in the design for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was unable to accomplish what it had been made to do.

After two years of enduring this bitter shame, the pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself and I apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer puzzled, “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 was cheered somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt the old shame because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you not notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, and 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’ve walked 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.”

The flaws you have in you are the strengths you have not discovered yet. Be yourself, flaws and all; everyone else is taken! Stop comparing yourself to other people and be yourself. Just like I used to do when I was getting acquainted with the Dar roads close to a decade ago, stick to your lane and stop comparing yourself to the other drivers driving on the other lanes. We may be using the same road but our destinations are completely different; we will take a different time frame to get there and eventually when we do, the outcome will be different just like the outcome of the two pots above. One pot delivered a full load of water while the second pot delivered half a load of water; but there was something else it delivered too that was not delivered by the other pot; half of the water was being used to water the flowers that were on its path.

Now that you know your cracked side has a very unique use, do you still want to compare yourself with someone else? Can you imagine the kind of flowers you have been watering that you have never even realized existed because you are so absorbed in comparing yourself to other people?

As we come to the end of July I challenge you to take some time to think through the areas in your life that you have been comparing yourself to others and feel that you have fallen short. Take time to appreciate those areas and when you do, you will realize they are actually gifts waiting to sprout out and catapult you to a destiny you probably never imagined existed for you.

But how do you identify your gifts? This is the question we will attempt to respond to (together) in the month of August.

But in the meantime remember this; you are a beautiful and valuable pot just the way you are, cracks and all.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 31st July, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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