Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Jar, Rocks, Pebbles, Sand et al..

I wonder if you've heard the story about the Professor, the Jar, Rocks, Pebbles and Sand. (I've done a recap of the story below. Alternatively, you could google the words Pebbles and Jar to read about it).  
Many have written about it and the underlying principles not only apply to lifestyle, but also management and business. Any aspect of life really.

I recently had some 'me-time' which I spent doing some inner self discovery and that's where this story came to mind.(I know, so many years on the planet and I am still discovering myself...What a complex creature I must be!).

Pressures of life and living often make us confused over what our priorites should be. We want to please others, to be seen as doing well, to be part of the 'in-crowd', to be popular. At times, we even sacrifice what we know is meaningful, in order to achieve that status.

As a Globetrotting Executive, I find that with each move, there is a need to quickly 'find myself' and get into rhythm. Doing this quickly shows everyone how well organised and in control I am (!). Sometimes, I have not always made the right choices, but it's all about learning...

Now that I've read this story about the pebbles and the jar again, I realised that sometimes in life, there is need for assessment of what is really important.

Do I really need volatile relationships?
Do I really need friendships that I have to justify to myself?
Do I really need a job that drains me physically, mentally, emotionally? (Yes, the money is good, but is it worth the abuse to myself, my family????)
At what cost am I getting the 'trappings of success' - the cars, jewelry, homes, holidays?
Seriously, who cares - anyway??????

I've started on the self-discovery journey again. Only this time, it's to discover what my true rocks, pebbles and sand are. At my own pace. It's an exercise worth doing. Try it.

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your children - 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 job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, 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 important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.
Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."


  1. 'Just sand', hmm! Deep! I've read this story before but its message still hits home. Thanks for sharing.

  2. @ Wordsmythe and Anonymous - Now seriously watching what goes into my jar....

  3. Ok, so now - just send me your jewellery. I know a good place.....


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