What does your rock jar look like?

June 14, 2010 / Updated: June 14, 2010 / Lena Shore
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In First Things First, Stephen Covey tells a story that one of his associates heard at a seminar. The seminar presenter pulled out a wide-mouth gallon jar and placed it next to a pile of fist-sized rocks. After filling the jar to the top with rocks, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

The group replied, “Yes.”

He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar. The speaker jiggled the jar until the gravel filled the spaces between the rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

This time, the group replied, “Probably not.”

The speaker then added some sand and asked, “Is the jar full?”

“No!” shouted the group.

Finally, the speaker filled the jar to the brim with water and asked the group the point of this illustration.

Someone replied that you could always fit more things into your life if “you really work at it.”

“No,” countered the speaker. “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

This is one of my favorite stories. Periodically I have to remind myself of this story and reevaluate my “big rocks” and make sure to give them first priority.