Motivational Short Stories
A Full Jar
One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group
of business students and to drive home a point, he used an
illustration those students will never forget.
As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers
he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.”
Following that, he pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouth
mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He took
out 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.
He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces
of gravel to work themselves down into the space between
the big rocks.
Subsequently, he asked the group once more, “Is the
By this time the class was on to him.
“Probably not.” One of them answered.
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“Good.” He replied.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.
He started dumping the sand into the jar and it went into
all of 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.”
He grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until
the jar was filled to the brim.
Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the
point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point
is no matter how full your schedule is; you can always fit
more things in it if you try hard enough.”
“No, that’s not the point.” The speaker
“The illustration teaches us that if you don’t
put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them
in at all.”
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What are the big rocks in your life? Time with your loved
ones? Faith, education or your dreams? A worthy cause? Teaching
or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in
first or you’ll never get them in at all.
Hence when you are reflecting on this short story, ask
yourself this question, “What are the big rocks in
Then, put those in your jar first.
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