A Story of Priorities and Sand: The “Big Rocks” of Life

The following article is one I wrote a few years back, so it might look familiar to some of you who have been following me for some time now. I’m re-publishing it because the theme is timeless and it’s a story that inspires hope. It’s entitled The “Big Rocks” of Life by Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

It seemed to have been a favorite for many of my readers back then and I understand why.

As I often say, you have within you the talent and the tenacity to go after your dreams. Keep reaching for the stars. 🙂

Now, on to that story… ⇣

One day, this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, he used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Next, 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.”

Really?” he asked. He then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel, dumped some of its contents in the jar and shook it. This resulted in pieces of gravel working themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

He smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time, the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

He then reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped some of it in the jar and it went into all 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 pour it into the jar until it was filled to the brim, after which he looked up 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 into 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.”

What are the big rocks in your life? Bringing more attention to your loved ones? A fun project of yours that you would like to accomplish soon? Keeping in touch with a few of your childhood friends? Your education? Helping a local cause for an event? Teaching or mentoring others? Remaining thankful? Put these Big Rocks in first.

Finally, remember to bloom where you are planted and relentlessly pursue those dreams! Enjoy the rest of the year.



‘Mylène’s Blog’ gives you an answer to something you’ve been curious about. ⑇ Are you a songwriter or have friends who are? I co-founded Tunedly, a selective music publishing and recording studio. ⑇ The Homepage of my website is the best place to learn about me. Homepage LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Instagram Gallery ⑇

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