The Cracked Pot

Once upon a time, there lived a female water carrier. Every morning, as the sun rises, the water carrier walked from her home to collect water in two mud pots. The pots hung from a long pole that she carried across her shoulders. One of the pot was in perfect form while the other, even though it has the same shape,makeup and size had a crack on its side. Thus, whenever the woman returned to boss, the pot was only half full.

For many years, the woman continued with her journey, collecting the water using the pots to carry the water from the river to and from her house. As the years go by, the imperfect or cracked pot created a narrative in its head about its inability to properly perform the job for which it had been created.the pot felt unworthy, and ashamed of its performance . Over the years, the pain and guilt that the pot felt about its own perceived imperfection, became too much for it to bear. One fateful day, the woman knelt beside the river and began her usual task of filling the pots with water. Suddenly, the cracked pot found its voice and said;
“I am very sorry. I have watched you fill me with water and I can only imagine what a fruitless task it must be for you for years and years. Because everytime we return home, I am always only half full instead of full like my perfect counterpart. The other pot In comparison is perfect and It rarely loses a drop of water inspite of our long walk back to our home. The crack on my side, not only does it cause me so much hurt and shame, but it also causes you to want to get rid of me. I believe that I am only making this long, arduous journey that you do much more difficult. I absolutely understand in case you are thinking of replacing me with another perfect pot.”

The woman listened to the pot’s words both with care and compassion. The cracked pot’s negative narrative about itself that of unworthiness and guilt sounded strange because all the while , the woman only saw the good in the pot and not the bad. Although, she Is aware of the crack in the pot, unworthiness and shame are things that she has never attributed to the cracked pot

She did not see the crack crack, but did not see it as an imperfection, or anything that made the pot less worthy than the other perfect hanging from her shoulder. She instead saw the crack as an symbol of perfection.

The woman quietly turned to the pot and said: “On our return home, I want you to look at the side of you that is cracked. You many have been looking down on yourself by comparing yourself to others for quite some time. You never noticed how much untold beauty you and the crack on your side bring into my life”

The Cracked pot was puzzled and wondered how its flaws could be seen to be a source of untold beauty instead of a story of lack of performance, unworthiness, guilt and shame. The pot could not comprehend what the woman just said.
However, the Cracked Pot trusted the water carrier. It occurred to it that in all the time that it had journeyed with her, she had never said a harsh word, never scorned or ridiculed it, but had always shown a sense of gratefulness and care when filling it with water.

The woman in her wisdom had sprinkled seeds along their path having noticed the crack in the pot so that the water dripping from the pot will help the seeds germinate. The seeds got watered every day as a result of the crack in the pot. The path that had once been dry and barren has turned into a beautiful place with an array of beautifully colored flowers.
The cracked pot now began to see itself in a new light. It understood that has been carrying a negative narrative about itself. The cracked pot understood that for its experience to change, it has to change the story that it was telling itself that is change from the negative to the positive.
The story of the cracked pot is about Values-Based Leadership. Value based leadership is the type of leadership whereby leaders draw on both their own core values and the values of the work organisation as a form of guidance and motivation.
Values-based leaders are transparent about sharing and communicating their values and in helping their employees connect to their own core values and those of the community they serve and learn within. This type of leadership as described by Richard Barrett, the author of Building a Values-Driven Organisation, is a way of making authentic decisions that builds trust and commitment. Research tells us that values-based leadership is most effective when these values are truly demonstrated by the leadership team who model these values in their everyday attitude, approach, behaviours and decision-making. It demonstrates the leaders inherent commitment to their values in a real and observable way and encourages the whole of the organisation to make choices and act based on these values.
Another version of the story is below:


• We are all perfect in this imperfect world. Our imperfections is what makes us perfect

• Our lives are constantly shaped by the stories we tell ourselves e.g. who we are, what we do and what we are here for. To claim our authenticity and personal authority and make unique and contribution as leaders, we need to know who we are, why we are here on earth and our journey

• Every individual wants to make a unique and authentic contribution to their workplaces, families and and communities. However, due to limited resources, and limiting beliefs, the journeys could get harder and harder

• Leadership needs to be inclusive for employees and leaders to find the strength, courage and wisdom to strongly align their sense of self-worth and vocation.
• Over the years, a lot of harmful narratives have seeped into the workplaces, the education system and family structures. Leaders find themselves operating in a work environment whereby employees are seens as mere objects or tool, and other emerging leaders as rivals or competitors instead of collaborators.
• These negative narratives do not support leaders nor do they provide the best outcomes in the workplaces. They rather only demoralise, further alienate & increase the emotional challenges of leadership.
• Strength based and value-drive leaderships bring about the best outcomes and profitability. It encourages leaders to look out for the gold, seek for the truth, see the the good rather than the flaws

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