I have heard this story a few times of late, most recently on re-reading Stephen Covey’s ‘First Things First’…..
A teacher stands in front of his class and places a large glass jar on the table in front of him. He fills the jar to the top with large rocks and asks his students whether they think the jar is full.
The students agree that the jar is full. The teacher then pulls out a bag of small pebbles from under his desk and proceeds to pour them in to the jar, shaking it slightly so that the pebbles fill the gaps between the larger rocks.
“Is the jar full now?” He asks.
Again the students agree, it must be full now.
This time the teacher retrieves a bag of sand from his draw and adds a few scoops to the jar, filling the gaps left by the small pebbles.
“How about now?” Asks the teacher, “Is the jar full?”
This time the students don’t look convinced, some are wary of another trick.
The teacher pours a jug of water in to the jar until it is full to the brim.
“If this jar is your life” the teacher says, “What does this experiment tell you?”
One student raised her hand and ventured “No matter how busy you are you can still fit more stuff in?” she asked.
“No” the teacher replied, “It tells us that if you don’t put the rocks in first, you won’t fit them in at all. The rocks represent the big things in your life, the truly important things like health, family or relationships.”
What are the big rocks in your life and are they the first things in your jar?