One day, an old professor of the national School of administration (ENA-France) was asked to give a training-course on the effective economic planning of one's time to a group of about fifteen leaders of big companies from North - America.
This course constituted one of 5 workshops of their day of training. So, the old Prof. only had one hour to spend on this subject.
Standing in front of this group of elite who was ready to note everything that the expert was going to teach, the old Prof. looked at them one by one, slowly, then said to them: "We are going to make an experiment".
From under the table which separated him from his pupils, the old Prof. took out an immense jar Mason of a gallon (glass jar of more than 4 liters) which he directly put in front of him.
Then, he took out about a dozen pebbles roughly as big as tennis balls and placed them delicately, one by one, in the big jar. When the jar was filled up to the brim, and when it was impossible to add anything to it, he raised slowly his eyes towards the pupils, and asked them: "Is this jar full?"
Everybody answered: "Yes".
He waited for a few seconds and added: "Really?"
Then, he bent again and took out from under the table a pot filled with little stones. With accuracy, he poured these little pebbles on the big stones, then moved softly the jar.
The fragments of little pebbles went between the stones down to the bottom of the jar. The old Prof. raised his eyes again towards his audience and asked: "Is this jar full?".
This time, his brilliant pupils began to understand the whole process. One of them answered:
"Well!" answered the old Prof..
He bent again and this time, took out from under the table a bucket of sand. With attention, he poured the sand into the jar. The sand went to fil the spaces between the big big stones and the little pebbles. Once again, he asked:
"Is this jar full?". This time, without hesitation, and in a choir, the brilliant pupils answered: "No!"
"Well!" answered the old Prof. And, as expected by the brilliant pupils, he took the jug of water which was on the table and filled the jar up to the brim. Then, the old Prof raised his eyes towards his group and asked: "Which big truth does this experiment show to us?"
Being no fool, the most audacious of the pupils, thinking about the topic of this course, answered: "It shows that even when one believes that our diary is completely filled, if one wants really wants it, one can add more meetings to it, more things to be made".
The old Prof. answered. "It is not that".
"The big truth that this experiment shows to us is the following one:
- "If one does not put the big stones first in the jar, one will never be able to make all of them go in, then".
There was a profound silence, each becoming aware of the evidence of these comments.
Then, the old Prof told them: "Which are the big stones in your life?"
"To make your dreams come true?"
"To do what you enjoy?"
"To fight for a cause?"
"To take time for yourself?"
"Or any other thing?"
"What it is necessary to remember is the importance to put one's BIG STONES in first in one's life, otherwise one encours the risks not succeed in one's life.
If one gives priority to pecadilloes (the little pebbles, the sand), one will fill one's life with pecadilloes and one will have no more enough precious time to dedicate to the important elements of one's life".
Then do not forget to ask to yourself this question: "Which are the BIG STONES IN MY LIFE? Then, put them in, first"
With a friendly gesture of the hand, the old professor greeted his audience and slowly left the room.