Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Five Balls

This is a quote from one of my favorite books, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson.

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called Work, Family, Health, Friends, and Integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball.. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.

Similarly, there is a story called Is Your Jar Full? I'm not sure where this came from originally. If anyone knows, please leave a comment so I can give credit where credit is due.
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 cans of beer 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 - your family, your children, your
health, your friends, 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,
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."

When he had finished, there was a profound silence. Then one of the
students raised her hand and with a puzzled expression, inquired what the
beer 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


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