Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lessons from the Mayonnaise Jar

The following short story has been around a while.  I'm not sure when I first heard it but the application is still relevant in my life. Hopefully, you'll get some good out of it too.  If you are anything like me,  life can get overwhelming. There's so much going on, so much to accomplish and 24 hours in a day isn't nearly enough to get everything done on your "to do" list.  This little story is it's a great reminder to me of setting priorities.

A professor stood before his class on the first day of the semester. As class began, without a word, he picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  As he shook it lightly, the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf ball. He then asked again if the jar was full. The students said it was. He then took out a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand fit in the crevices. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a hesitant "yes". He then produced 2 cups of coffee and poured them into the jar.  The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, "this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things. These are the kind of things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, would still make your life full, like God, your family, your health, etc. The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else - the small stuff.

"If you put the sand in first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all of your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for things that are important.  Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities."

One student raised her hand to inquire what the coffee represented. He smiled and replied, "It just shows that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for coffee with a friend."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first heard this lovely story many years ago - it was part of a speech given by Judith Mischel at the wedding of her son Adam to Audrey. It was the most beautiful and meaningful speech I ever heard, ao I asked her for a copy. There were no silly golf balls, pepsi or coffee, just rocks, pebbles and sand.

She simply said, "I want you to recognize that this is your Life. The rocks are the important things, your family, your partner, your health - and your children - everything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

The pebbles are the other things that matter - like your job, your house, your car, and your friends.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.
If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

She went on to say, "If you put the sand into the jar first, there’s no room for the pebbles, and the rocks. - The same goes for your life.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take care of each other.
Keep the lines of communication open between you, no matter how tired or angry you may feel.

LISTEN! - don’t just hear each other, and the same goes for your children, too, when they arrive. Listen to what they have to say.
Enjoy and learn from each other’s differences.

Turn dinner time into family time, when you concentrate on each other and your children, without talk of work, and definitely with no television on in the background.

Play happily with your children when you become a family, participate in positive activities with them, know where they are at all times - and teach them, by example, to give back to the community in which they live.

Take your partner out dancing, just the two of you, and always keep the romance alive, ESPECIALLY after your children arrive.

Organize little inexpensive surprises for each other, and always remember that the courtship doesn’t end when you marry. This is the time it must truly begin -

and being married doesn’t mean putting in 50% each - it means each of you giving of yourselves 100%.

Spend joyful time with grandparents and your other relatives, ensuring that your children are always part of a loving extended family.

And make laughter, and loving, part of your lives.

There will always be time to go to work, make another dollar, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the garbage disposal, but your family ... it is the most precious and fragile gift you will ever receive, and you must never take it for granted.

Audrey, I raised a little boy, and tonight, with all my love, I am giving you a man.

I pray that you will know nothing but love, passion, romance, joy and success in the life you share -

- and you will have a very good beginning if you both remember to take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter.

The rest IS just sand."

I hope her children took her advice - if they did, they'll have a wonderful life.

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