golf balls, sand, coffee, & life


To continue the theme of success, I thought I’d share this much-loved story from October. A great reminder about what is most important in life.


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

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 fills 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 a 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 – God, 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.” he said.

“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…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. 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 and said, “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.”


story source

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Tess

    I’ve always luved this story – it’s so true

  2. I love this story, thanks for reminding me of it! When I first read it elsewhere, I wore an internal smile for the rest of the day, it is a great story! 🙂
    Sian Xx

      1. Really good! My intern’s giving me extra time to focus on my “big rocks” (golf balls?). I even convinced my husband to start our own Morning Club where we talk about our intentions for the day before he leaves for work.

  3. Ashley

    This is such a good story. Great reminder of keeping things in perspective. Thanks for reposting it!

  4. Jenny

    love this. does anyone know the author? going to have it read at my wedding

    1. I’m personally not sure who wrote it… maybe you could try googling around for it?? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an author named, but it could be floating out there somewhere.

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