Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Looking After the Big Rocks

I thought I'd delve into my archives and bring this article up for you.

A primary school teacher stood at the front of her class about to conduct a new lesson for the children. Most were 5 or 6 years of age. She asked for their attention. And suggested that the lesson she was about to teach would be important one for life.

She then pulled out from under the bench a large glass beaker with a wide mouth and placed it on the bench. The beaker stood about 12 inches tall. Alongside it she placed an ice cream bucket full of rocks, each about the size of her fist. She carefully placed the big rocks inside the beaker. After fitting about ten rocks inside the jar, the next one she placed on top rolled off and hit the bench.

There appeared no room for any more rocks in the jar. She then looked up at the class, smiled and asked the question, ‘Would you say that I have a full jar?” The children recognising that clearly no more rocks could be fitted in, nodded in agreement.

She then pulled out another ice-cream bucket which contained a large number of smaller pebbles, each about the size of a pea. The teacher then carefully poured the pea gravel into the jar until there were no more spaces left between the rocks. Before long the pea gravel also overflowed.

The same question was put to the class again and they nodded that this time the jar was clearly full.

At this, a third bucket was produced. It was full of sand. The teacher poured the sand between the big rocks and pea gravel until the spaces was saturated for the third time. The children were amazed at the capacity of the beaker but were uncertain how to answer the teacher’s subsequent request: was the jar now full?

Before they could answer, a bottle full of water was produced from under the bench and the liquid was poured between the rocks, gravel and sand.

At the end of this exercise the teacher smiled at her class and said that the demonstration was over. ‘Now tell me, children, what is the lesson in this exercise?’ to which there was silence for a moment.

Then one enthusiastic young boy raised his hand in excitement. ‘Miss, I learned that you can often fit a lot more in than you had first thought,’ he said with pride.

‘Good answer, Robert, but there is another lesson I would like to discover.’

The young children thought hard again. This is a time a tiny red-headed girl at the back of the room raised her hand. ‘Miss, the lesson for me is that if you didn’t put the big rocks in first you wouldn’t have been able to fit everything else in. So my learning is to first place in the big rocks.’

The teacher smiled with great pride. ‘You are a very clever class. That is exactly the lesson I was seeking.’

Think about the profound nature of that simple lesson when applied to your life. What are your big rocks? What are the most important things in your life? What are the most important roles you perform? If you can identify the key things and make sure they get the attention they deserve,

you will be able to do much more than you expected.


  1. Anonymous5:48 am

    I know my big rock is getting rid of spammers, do you have any idea how much bandwidth they waste telling people about how to get rich? or penis enlargements? they really all need to be captured and sent off to an island where there is no communication with the outside world...

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