A friend sent this story by e-mail. The author wasn't identified, so I can't give them credit. But the concept impressed me. Success in life involves setting priorities, making hard choices, and taking focused action. This article has helped me re-think my priorities. I hope it does the same for you. —Bill Frank

The Big Rocks of Life

A time management expert was speaking to my MBA class, and to drive home a point, he used an illustration I'll never forget. After I share it with you, you'll never forget it either.

As the grey-haired expert stood in front of the high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." He set a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar on the table in front of him. Then he produced a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them into the jar, one at a time.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked,
"Is this jar full?"

Everyone in the class said, "Yes."

The expert said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped gravel into the jar, and shook it, causing gravel to work itself down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled and 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. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped sand into the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked, "Is this jar full?"

"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher and poured water into the jar until it was filled to the brim. Then he 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 into 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'll never get them in at all."

What are the big rocks in your life?

    To complete an important project?
    To attend a class to benefit your career?
    To spend more time with loved ones?
    To further a favorite cause, such as a charity?
    To improve your faith, your health, your education, your finances?
    To teach or mentor others?

Always put these big rocks into your life first, or you'll never get them in at all.


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