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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rocks in a Jar

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students, and, to drive home a point, used an illustration that those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered, over-achievers he said "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him.

The speaker produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked "Is the jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." The presenter then asked "Really?" as he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks.

He asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table, brought out a bucket of sand and dumped the sand in the jar. The sand went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel, and once more he asked the question, "Is the jar full?" "No!" the class shouted.

Again he said, "Good," as he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. The speaker then looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"

"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you will never fit them in at all."

What are the "Big Rocks" in your life?
Your children?
Your loved ones?
Your dreams?
A worthy cause?
Teaching or mentoring others?
Doing things that you love?
Time for yourself?
Your health?
Your spouse?

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you will never get them in at all. If your sweat the little stuff (the gravel, the sand, the water) then you fill your life with little things you worry about that don't really matter, and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big important stuff (the big rocks).

So tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the big rocks in my life? Then, put those in first priority.

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