Big Rocks First

The story goes like this.

A professor walks to the front of the room with a large glass jar—the kind that you'd make iced tea in (and could serve a family for a couple of days).

His students all watch him as he sets the stage for what will surely be an interesting lesson. And so he puts some large rocks in the jar. Big ones that quickly fill the jar.

Then he asks, “Is the jar full?” And they reply loudly, “yes.”

He then grabs tons of smaller rocks and pours them in. And asks the same question. The answer is again, “yes.”

He then proceeds to add pebbles into the jar and it's clear there was more room. This time when he asks, the answer is quieter and with more hesitancy. But it's still an affirmative response.

Then he grabs sand and pours it in, filling the jar. This time there can be no debate. It's full. For sure. And so he asks a different question, “What's the point of today's lesson?”

Their response is almost unified as they declare confidently that the point was that there's always more room; that it's not full until it's really full.

His response surprised them.

“The lesson is simple: always put the big rocks in first.”

I work a full time job. I take regular naps. I often write over 1000 words a day on blog posts and coaching emails. I spend an hour or so on coaching calls every day.

I've filled in the complete jar. But the big rocks in my life are my wife and kids. If they're not given priority time and some of my best hours, then I won't fit them in. If they're an afterthought, I fail at life.

I flew across the country with them today. Taking them from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale because tomorrow we'll board a boat and spend a week together on a cruise.

Those of you that know me, in person, know I'm a big fella. But yesterday for the first time in twenty years, I didn't need a seat belt extender on the flights.

I started watching my eating habits back in November. Because my health is important to me.

And we've planned this cruise for eighteen months. Because my family is important to me.

Because if you want them to fit, you have to put the big rocks in first.