The Mayo Jar

Just want to share this sto­ry1 emailed to me by Peter2. I guess it can go hand-in-hand with the ALA Burnout arti­cle tweet ear­li­er this week, or Prof. Pausch’s Last Lec­ture.

Enjoy, and have a great week­end my golf balls!

A Pro­fes­sor stood before his phi­los­o­phy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, word­less­ly, he picked up a very large and 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.

So the Pro­fes­sor then picked up a box of peb­bles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar light­ly. The peb­bles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the stu­dents again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The Pro­fes­sor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up every­thing else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The stu­dents respond­ed with an unan­i­mous “yes.”

The Pro­fes­sor then pro­duced two cups of cof­fee from under the table and poured the entire con­tents into the jar, effec­tive­ly fill­ing the space between the grains of sand.

Now,” said the pro­fes­sor, 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 your favorite passions—things that 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.

If you put the sand into the jar first,” he con­tin­ued, “there is no room for the peb­bles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and ener­gy on the small stuff, you will nev­er have room for the things that are impor­tant to you. Pay atten­tion to the things that are crit­i­cal to your hap­pi­ness. Play with your chil­dren. Take time to get med­ical check­ups. Take your part­ner out to din­ner. Play anoth­er 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dis­pos­al. “Take care of the golf balls first, the things that real­ly mat­ter. Set your pri­or­i­ties. The rest is just sand.”

One of the stu­dents raised her hand and inquired what the cof­fee rep­re­sent­ed. The Pro­fes­sor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no mat­ter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cou­ple of cups of cof­fee with a friend.”

  1. I did some research online and it seems that the sto­ry has a ver­sion with 2 cups of cof­fee as well instead of beer. []
  2. If you need some home improve­ments done and live in the Bay Area, Peter can han­dle them. Check out his com­pa­ny over at paloaltohi.com []

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