And what, if anything, is non-negotiable?
What are you unwilling to sacrifice to achieve what you want?
One day, a wise old professor informed his students that they were about to conduct an experiment. From under the table that stood between the professor and his students he pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it in front of him. Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar. Lifting his gaze to the students, he asked, ‘Is the jar full?’ The students replied, ‘Yes’.
The professor paused for a moment, and replied, ‘Really?’ Then once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom. Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, ‘is the jar full?’
At this point, the business students began to understand his intentions. One replied, ‘apparently not!’ ‘Correct’, replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table. Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles. Yet again, the professor asked, ‘is the jar full?’ Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, ‘No!’
‘Correct’, replied the professor. And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full. ‘The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is: If we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit them in later.’ In other words, make room for what is most important first, those are your stones. Other things can then be fitted around the stones.
What do you want more than anything?
MBL is The New MBA
Phil Johnson is Founder and CEO of Master of Business Leadership Inc. MBL offers executives