The Big Rocks

Somethings you just remember.

I remember in grade 12 when I took an entrepreneurship class and the teacher played a video of a talk from Stephen Covey.  It was so long ago that the video was played on a VHS tape on a 26 inchish screen on a cart that was dragged class to class – no fancy smart boards like my kids have today.  More importantly, I remember the lesson that Covey was illustrating when he talked about how you need to put first things first.

It’s a powerful lesson about procrastination and priorities.

In the demonstration, an audience member has to put rocks into a big jar and then fill it with sand.  The person puts them in randomly and then adds the sand but there is a problem – they have trouble filling it up.  There is still big rocks that didn’t make it into the jar.

Then Covey asks another audience member to fill up the jar, but this time he encourages them to put the biggest rocks in first.  This time all the rocks go in.  The sand fits in smoothly around the rocks.

The message: start with the biggest tasks and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s a lesson that I’ve applied to business.

When I start my day I look to take on the biggest, most important task.  Not just the small urgent one.

I find that when I do the most important task I create momentum that can take me through the workday.

But when I settle for the small inconsequential tasks I may feel good about crossing a few things off my to-do list, but I know that I’m not doing the things I need to be doing.

It’s all about the big rocks.

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