Big Rocks Strategy

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Strategy |

big rocks

This is a classic worth rereading multiple times a year. So I share it today, in the last few weeks of the year and in the lead up to Christmas. Read it slowly rather than racing through.

A high school science teacher wanted to demonstrate a concept to his students. He takes a large-mouth jar and places several large rocks in it. He then asks the class, “Is it full?”

Unanimously, the class replies, “Yes!”

The teacher then takes a bucket of gravel and pours it into the jar. The small rocks settle into the spaces between the big rocks.

He then asks the class, “Is it full?”

This time there are some students holding back, but most reply, “Yes!” The teacher then produces a large can of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. The sand fills up the spaces between the gravel.

For the third time, the teacher asks, “Is it full?”

Most of the students are wary of answering, but again, many reply, “Yes!”

Then the teacher brings out a pitcher of water and pours it into the jar. The water saturates the sand. At this point, the teacher asks the class, “What is the point of this demonstration?”

One bright young student raises his hand and then responds, “No matter how full one’s schedule is in life, he can always squeeze in more things!”

“No,” replies the teacher, “The point is that unless you first place the big rocks into the jar, you are never going to get them in. The big rocks are the important things in your life …your family, your friends, your personal growth. If you fill your life with small things, as demonstrated by the gravel, the sand, and the water…you will never have the time for the important things.

Author Unknown

Perhaps you notice different parts of the story this time. Each time, the students were partially correct. There is a limit to how many big rocks can fit into the jar. And so it is true in our lives, only a few things can be our priorities.

So what are yours? List them out.

And now look at your list and think about decade from now – does your list still make sense? Or have you listed out gravel not the big rocks?

And yes this can apply to your personal life and your work life, your team, your organisation.

Photo by Joeri Römer


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