In today’s crazy world we are too often judging ourselves by pre-pandemic standards of productivity, attention to our kids, cleanliness of the house, social engagement or personal appearance (quarantine hair!). This needs to stop! We are not living in the pre-pandemic world, in the US our world is filled with re-starting the economy, social protests, political rhetoric and general uncertainty about what’s next. All we can do is what we can do today. Tomorrow may be better; it may be worse, or it may be the same. Do the best you can each day, you don’t need to be perfect.
Here’s an interesting parable about perfection and judgement.
Cracked Pot Parable
There was an elderly woman who had the responsibility of gathering water for her family each day. Because the family lived in a very remote and dry region, she had to walk far to get the water. She could only carry two pots at a time and so, needed to make the trip every day.
The elderly woman did not have the means for new materials. As a result, only one pot was in perfect working order. The other pot had a crack running half way down the side. The first was the envy of the latter. Making matters worse, the whole one often belittled the other, critiquing it of lacking performance:
“You are a sorry excuse for a pot! Every day you lose half your water. I will give you a poor performance review. You’re not even meeting half of your objectives and you are draining our resources. You need to be replaced.”
Of course, these negative remarks wore on the cracked pot. Over time, the poor pot began to believe the negative feedback about itself. Until, one day, the cracked pot nearly gave up and apologized to the elderly woman, asking to be replaced:
“My lady, I am so sorry for failing you! Every day, we walk to and from the well and I cannot hold on to all the water you place in me. I am a poor performer. You must be awfully disappointed in me. Please, replace me with another, newer model, so you can be more successful!”
Upon hearing this, the lady gasped. She now realized the cracked pot did not fully understand its role:
“But, cracked pot, you provide so many benefits to me and our family that you do not realize! Haven’t you noticed all the flowers and vegetables growing up on your side of the path? I knew you dripped water and so I planted seeds along your side of our path. Your water nurtured those plants and vegetables. I picked the flowers to make our home beautiful and the vegetables to feed our family. The other pot may seem more complete, but I would have to stop and tip it every time I wanted to give the plants a drink. In contrast, water flows from you perfectly – at a consistent and steady pace.”
The cracked pot was so excited at hearing this, it never again doubted itself. It ignored the negative commentary cast by its peer and continued to feed the plants and vegetables every day.
How are you judging yourself today? How are you judging others? Look for what is working even with the inherent flaws of today’s world.
Be kind and we will grow into a better tomorrow.