Management Rocks

by a graduate of Harvard who wishes to remain anonymous 

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At Harvard I had a professor who taught us in one lecture the subject of management. One day this professor spoke to us a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration we will never forget.

As this man stood in front of us 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. Then 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." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he 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 reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in 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 began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One student 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 professor 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? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in FIRST or you'll never get them in at all.

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