Own My Growth

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Prioritize The Big Rocks

Big Rocks

I am sure many of you would have seen this video doing the rounds on WhatsApp about a professor coming to a class and doing an exercise of filling a container with rocks, pebbles, and sand.

The video presents an exercise known as “Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks.” and represents the importance of prioritization.

The exercise requires you to imagine a big container. 

  • If you put in three or four big rocks, would you say the bucket is full? The answer would be NO.
  • Next, you pour small pebbles into the container; would it be full? The answer would still be NO.
  • Finally, you pour sand into the same container. Now the container is indeed full. 

So, what’s the learning we can take from the exercise?

It’s to do with the order. What would happen if you reversed the order in which you put the stuff into the container? If you fill the jar with the sand and the pebbles first, there would be no space for the big rocks. 

The big rocks, pebbles, and sand are metaphors for the different priorities that demand our time, focus, and attention. At any point in your life, do you give more importance to the small niggling issues instead of what truly matters in your life? 

It is essential to recognize what represents the big rocks in your life. For me- my family, my health, being with the kids watching them grow, being in control of my time, creating value at my workplace, home, and within the community – these are the big rocks in my life. I prioritize those ahead of everything else that could squeeze out my time, attention, and focus, just like the sand and pebbles in Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks exercise. 

Psychologist Robert Holden in his book Be Happy, says this. Work out what is truly important for you. Research shows that people with consistently high happiness scores prioritize their life according to the things they value. This is because they’ve worked out what is most important for them and don’t allow themselves to get sidetracked. 

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