Put in the Big Rocks First
Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors.
In the book "First Things First" he describes
a story that one of his associates experienced.
One day an expert in time management was speaking
to a group of business students and, to drive home
a point, used an illustration those students will
never forget.
As he stood in front of the group of high powered
overachievers 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.
Then he 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 this 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 on to 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 of the spaces left between the rocks
and the gravel.
Once more he asked the question, "Is this 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 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 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'll never get
them in at all."
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 your jar first."