Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Man Cave: Rocks and Sand

I have just finished an incredibly busy week. I felt like I had more to do than I had time for. It was a perfect storm of work, chores, oddball tasks, and important appointments, with a crisis or two thrown in for good measure. I was freakin’ out.

I managed to make it through because I followed the lesson of the rocks and the sand.

I won’t take credit for this parable. I heard it a long time ago - I don’t remember where. I’m simply regurgitating it now. Maybe somebody knows where it originally came from. If so, please enlighten me.  It goes something like this:

A student once complained to his teacher “I don’t have time for all the tasks in my day. It is impossible to get to everything.”

The teacher then instructed the student to place a dozen fist-sized rocks in a gallon bucket. The rocks piled up to the top of the bucket, and the teacher asked “Is the bucket full?”

“Yes,” the student replied.

"Wrong" said the teacher, and he produced several handfuls of pea-sized gravel. He poured them in the bucket, and slowly they filtered down through the rocks, filling all the voids and nooks, until they reached the top. Again the teacher asked “Is the bucket full?”

“Yes,” the student replied.

"Wrong" said the teacher, and he produced a bag of sand and began pouring it in the bucket. As before, the sand filtered down through the rocks and gravel, filling the empty spaces until the bucket was truly full. “Do you understand this object lesson?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the student. “The lesson is that there is more space to fit tasks into my day than I thought.”

“Wrong,” the teacher said. “The lesson is that I put the big rocks in first.”

1 comment:

  1. I love this parable too! The way I remember it is that the student has big rocks, pea gravel and sand and has to get all of it the jar. If you start out with the sand and pea gravel there is no possible way to get all of your rocks in. So yes, the lesson is - put your big rocks in first and everything else will fit in nicely.