October 17, 2013

The Jar of Stones

by Steve Whitehorn


Is your jar half-full, half-empty, or simply… overflowing? Do you ever feel like if one more memo crosses your desk, if one more email pops up on your monitor, you might explode? See if this story rings any bells…


A professor stands in front of his class with a jar of large stones. He asks if the jar is full and class unanimously agrees that it is. He then drops pebbles into the jar and they roll down into the cracks between the stones. He asks again if the jar is full and the students again agree that it is. Finally, the professor pours sand into the jar, filling it to the brim. 


This is a story about priorities. The stones represent the important things in life (ie- your family, your relationships, your passions, the things that are most important to the success of you firm). The sand and pebbles represent the other things that are not as nearly as important (ie- your house, your car, your possessions). If the sand goes in first, soon you’ll find that there is no room left for the stones.


As an owner, you want the practice to thrive so badly that your first instinct is to get involved on every level and that is completely understandable. The truth is, though, that this actually hurts your firm since you’re leaving no room in your personal jar for the things that matter – the things that only you, as the principal, can carry out for your business.


Focus on the important stuff in life! The rest is just pebbles and sand.


Steve Whitehorn is the author of the upcoming book, Ensuring Your Firm’s Legacy, and Managing Principal of Whitehorn Financial Group, Inc., and is the creator of The A/E Empowerment Program®, a three-step process that helps firms create a more significant legacy and empowers them to achieve greater impact on their projects, relationships, and communities..