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A Life Lesson

By July 9, 2012February 14th, 2019Articles, leadership, Leadership


One day, a teacher was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive to the point, used an illustration 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.” He then pulled out a one gallon, wide-mouth mason-jar and set it on the table in front of him.

Then, he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one by one, into a 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.”

Then he said, “Really?’

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then, he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked, the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time, the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more, he asked the question, “Is the jar full?” 

”No!” the class shouted.

Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then, the teacher looked at the glass and asked, “What is the point of the illustration?”

One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try hard, you can always fit more things in.”

“Good answer, but not the one I was looking for,” the speaker replied, “The truth is this illustration teaches us is, If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the big rocks in life? Your children, your spouse, your loved ones, your friendships, your education, your dreams, a wealthy cause, teaching or being a mentor to others, doing things that you love, your health & well-being and making the most of today.”

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you’ll never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff, (ie,gravel, the sand), then you’ll fill your life with little things, you will never have the quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff (he big rocks).

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein.