How Do You Connect Big Rocks?

Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator

Stack of pebble stonesWhen Steven Covey used the analogy of putting big rocks in a bucket to emphasize the importance of aligning personal and professional priorities in life, he likely had no way of knowing that the term “big rocks” would become such a ubiquitous term in the field of organizational leadership in future years.  No doubt you have seen the illustration where a jar or bucket represents a finite amount of resource capacity and big rocks represent priority areas in work or life, while sand and gravel represent lesser or competing priorities.  The most common resource limitation is no doubt time, but the size of our bucket could just as easily represent limitations in money, people etc.  No person or organization enjoys unlimited resources and, metaphorically speaking, who among us hasn’t stared at what seemed like a big pile of rocks and a woefully small bucket?  The point of the illustration is that the big rocks will only fit in the bucket with the sand and gravel if they are put in first.  When one puts the small stuff in the bucket first, the big stuff doesn’t all fit.  One can find a myriad of videos and articles illustrating this principle by simply entering “big rocks” into any search engine.  You will find the big rocks illustration being applied to personal, spiritual and professional priorities in colleges of business, churches, and time management seminars throughout the world.  It’s a powerful, but very simple message about the importance of  “keeping the main thing the main thing.”

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