Never Get Stuck in the Thick of Thin Things

My friend Dalia sent me this. I thought it was a good analogy on deciding to spend time on things that matter. It reminded me of a saying (not sure who said it):

"Never get stuck in the thick of thin things"

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 started to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it 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 empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

'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 - family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and 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.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'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.'

2 thoughts on “Never Get Stuck in the Thick of Thin Things”

  1. Hi Steven,
    I really enjoyed reading this story, and it definitely made me reflect on my life and what I aim to do and who I want to be. Sometimes we get so caught up in the small stuff that we just need to take a step back, breathe, and appreciate the more important things in life.
    I’m an undergrad at UCSD taking an entrepreneurship class and interning at Ansir Innovation Cener in San Diego, and I find your posts to be very insightful and inspirational. If possible, can I contact you about speaking at one of our weekly events where you can share your experiences as an entrepreneur and inspire others?
    Thanks for sharing your awesome philosophy and advice on life and business! I’m looking forward to the next post.

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