Pay It Forward – The Importance of The Big Rocks

I have heard this story many times in a number of different variations.  This is my favourite version of it and the one that I continually go back to when beginning a new journey in my life or reflecting upon situations that may have brought discomfort.  Please take a moment to not only read and enjoy it, but to also reflect upon how it may be relevant and connected to your own life as well.  We would love to hear your comments.

The Big Rocks – Author unknown

“One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said,

“Okay, time for a quiz” and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also 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 yelled, “Yes.”

The time management expert replied, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of 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 began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked 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 in it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point at all. The truth this illustration teaches us is this . . .If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Take a few moments to process this.

We now ask you this . . . What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life; time with your loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these big rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

So sometime throughout the day when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are my ‘big rocks’? Then consciously and deliberately put those in your jar first.

In doing so you are Paying Forward your time to those Big Rocks that truly mean the most to you.


5 thoughts on “Pay It Forward – The Importance of The Big Rocks

  1. Saw this story a couple of years ago…I did it for my house…to always remind us what is actually important in life.

  2. Thanks- I took a moment to reflexct on this story and reminded myself to find my big rocks and fit them in first!! Thank-you!!!

  3. I never heard this story before, but what strikes me is that during all my health issues I have been conducting myself this way. It’s nice to read this and get aome validation.

  4. Sometimes it takes a big jolt to remind us of what is really important to us. This story just gives us that reminder. Thanks

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