Earlier today, I started reading a book recommended by Ted Coine called Full Steam Ahead by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner. I am often sceptical about management and leadership books thinking that it is all the same claptrap repeated and regurgitated time after time. However, I quickly became engrossed in the book. I missed my stop on the train and wasted an hour retracing my steps. But it was an hour well spent… reading more pages of the book.
In the first chapter there is a short story that I found especially interesting mostly because as a leader I try to focus on the wellbeing of my team in the sure and certain knowledge that I cannot deliver without them! The story focuses work-life balance and is repeated here:
One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group. He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone said yes.
He then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some of the gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the rocks. He then asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”
But this time some of the group were not so sure.
“Good,” he said as he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and dumped it in the jar. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
No one answered.
He then grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim. He looked at his class and asked “What is the point of this illustration?”
One bright young man said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you really think about it, you can always fit more things in it.”
“No,” the speaker replied with a smile. “That’s not the point. That’s what most people think. The truth this illustration teaches is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
What are the big rocks in your life? Time with your loved ones, your dreams, your health, a worthy cause? Remember to put these in first, or you’ll never get them in at all.
I have found myself speed reading, so engrossed am I in this book. I have promised myself that I will slow down and take it all in but I feel that I am more likely to finish it at speed and then revisit the book a chapter at a time. I unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone interested in growing as a leader. I am resolved to write follow on blog entries based on lessons learnt from the book and how successful I am at implementing them.
In the meantime, I will be working to put some clarity around my personal big rocks and encouraging my team to do likewise.