In light of all the catastrophic issues so many are dealing with after Hurricane Sandy, I thought it was a good time to reflect and give ourselves some perspective on what’s most important.
I received an e-mail a number of years ago that has always stuck with me. Whether it was a true story or not doesn’t really matter. The lesson is real. And it's a lesson that has helped me in the athletic, academic and business world.
The e-mail told of a professor who wanted to teach his students about determining the most important things in life.
The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when twenty-four hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee!
A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar, which he shook lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
He next picked up a box of sand and poured it in. Of course, the sand filled up all the other spaces. He asked yet again if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
The professor finally produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," he said as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and the things you’re passionate about. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car.
“The sand is everything else—the small stuff.