Looking For Shortcomings

When looking for a partner, people often look for strengths and assets. In the case of marriage, people are devoting themselves to a lifelong commitment. Nobody wants to spend their life with someone with shortcomings. When making friends, we look for people who have many strength and no weaknesses. When picking a school, we only want the best. In choosing a job, we want one that pays well and asks for little effort. Nobody wants to be overworked and underpaid.

However, strengths are not necessarily good, just as shortcomings are not necessarily bad. A man called Xu in the Jin Dynasty was matched to a woman he’d never met. On the wedding night, he discovered that his new wife was hideous. He was unhappy about it and asked her, “Women should have four kinds of virtue: morality, beauty, speech, and skills. How many of them do you have?”

His wife replied, “I have all but looks.” Upon hearing her reply, Xu was still not pleased. His wife then asked, “A wise man should have a hundred virtues, how many do you possess?”

Xu answered, “I have them all.”

She retorted, “Of the hundred virtues of the wise, morality is the foremost. But when you saw me today, you put looks ahead of morality. How can you claim to possess all of the hundred virtues?” Her words struck Xu like a bolt of thunder. He was ashamed of himself. He and his wife grew deeply in love with each others. Their marriage lasted a lifetime.

It is natural to admire strengths. However, we must appreciate that shortcomings can be corrected and even serve as assets, just as crises are opportunities for turning bad situations around. In the business world, a factory may close down. However, if the products manufactured there are still in demand, there may be an opportunity for it to open up again if it can be improved to meet market requirements. In any endeavor, there may be many shortfalls. But if the capable can turn the situation around, it can be turned into a success.

Nowadays, there are many open-minded corporations that employ physically challenged people. They realize that the handicapped are more attentive and dedicated in their work, that they give their job their best effort. In their case, weakness had been turned into a strength.

In this world, whether it be an individual, an organization, a community, or a country, all of them will, without exception, have their own shortcomings. However, there is no weakness that cannot be corrected. Slothfulness may be someone’s shortcoming. But with encouragement and proper guidance, they can become a hardworking individual, their weakness transformed into an asset. Apples and pears taste sour before ripening. But with the warmth of the sun and gentle breezes, these fruits will grow sweet. When we make a choice, it is only natural that we look for strengths. But we should not reject shortcomings out of hand, for they can be amended.