Once upon a time there was a travelling merchant. He was an esteemed gentleman who enjoyed many quality things. He knew what he wanted and he knew what they were worth. Today he was searching for ornate ceramic pots, ones that were aesthetically pleasurable as well as structurally sound. He came to a village which, despite its small size, held two artisans. He ordered a pot from each of them. Whoever had come closer to his vision would obtain his permanent service. He would judge their pots in three days.
The two artisans had different ways of making their craft. The first artisan had studied for many years, honing his craft. Each of his pots were sturdy and proved their function, yet they weren't much to look at. The second artisan came about his own techniques. He chanced designs and structures that the first artisan dared to try. Some of his pots crumbled under their own weight, but others became the envy of the town. The two artisans didn't like each other, or each other's work. The scholarly artisan claimed that his competitor's work would turn to dust with the slightest breeze and scoffed at his efforts. However, he found himself baffled when the townspeople frequently went to his competitor before him.
The scholarly artisan frequently gave advice on how his competitor could improve his craft, but the simple artisan did not like his competitor. Whenever he did what the scholarly artisan said, his work became sterile and no one spared it a second glance. He had far fewer duds, but found that the townspeople would always go to the scholarly artisan's shop before his when he followed the scholarly artisan's advice. He came to believe that the scholarly artisan was purposely sabotaging him.
Each of them used their own methods to construct a pot that would catch the merchant's eye. The scholarly merchant consulted all of his books to find a design that could take even the harshest of battering and still be in tact. The simple artisan created as many shapes that would take the forms of turtles, elephants, and dragons. Each one was more exotic than the last, but by morning the elephant urn had chipped at the base. It wasn't long before the three days had ended and the merchant returned to town. The scholarly artisan had crafted a plain gray pot that could contain boiling oil, while the simple artisan had crafted a pot in the shape of a dragon, which couldn't last the fall from a table to the floor.
The merchant learned of the dragon's weakness the moment that he held it. It broke into seven pieces from a rough touch alone. The merchant was about to leave, but before he did the scholarly artisan stopped him. The scholarly artisan wanted to know why the merchant ignored his pot. The merchant said that he didn't even notice the scholarly artisan's pot, and in that case he had already failed. Pitying the scholarly artisan, the merchant examined his pot and deemed it less valuable than the simple artisan's work. The merchant took two pots out of his wagon. Both of them were identical to the scholarly artisan's pot, and both artisans were told that they needed to learn from them.