A teacher stood before her final class of senior graduating students with some items in front of her. When the class began, she wordlessly turned her attention to a very large and empty glass jar. And proceeded to fill it with rocks – rocks about 8cm in diameter.
She then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
So, the teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. She shook the jar lightly. Naturally the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. She then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was – a bit more warily this time.
The teacher then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar – stopping to shake the jar at regular intervals.
The students watched fascinated as the sand trickled down filling up every space that was left. The wise teacher then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a loud and unanimous – “Yes!” Quite sure of themselves this time.
So, with a smile on her face, this wise mentor produced two cans of beer from under the bench. And she proceeded to pour their entire contents into the jar. The students watched fascinated as the frothing beer filled the empty spaces between the sand, soaked into the sand, and clung to the surface areas of the rocks and pebbles. The students laughed in appreciation.
“Now,” said the teacher, as the laughter subsided, “As you head out into the real world, I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your goals and values, your extended family, your friends, your life partner, your health, your children, your beliefs, your passions and interests, your personal integrity and sense of worth – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. “The pebbles are the other things that matter like your ongoing learning, your business or career, your peers and colleagues, your house, your car, your savings, how well-known and famous you become…”
“The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” she continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important to you
“So, put the rocks and pebbles in first – and let the sand find its own time and place. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your success and happiness. Wine and dine your partner. Go out dancing. Play with your children. Ring your family and friends. Take time to get medical check-ups. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, improve your golf strokes, and put out the rubbish.”
“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities constantly and clearly – every day. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented?
The teacher smiled. “I’m glad you asked, Sally. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”
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