Written by Steve Mores
There are two sons of an alcoholic father. One struggles through life as a drunk. The other becomes a successful, ambitious businessman. When asked, “Why are you the way you are?” Both responded, “My father was an alcoholic.” It’s all about the decisions we make! How we deal with our past can either create constant depression or create wisdom through learning from it. It’s a choice!
In the animated movie The Lion King, although he may be completely crazy, Rafiki, the wise baboon, has many life lessons to teach Simba. In one scene where Rafiki is mentoring the adult Simba about how to deal with his past, Rafiki smacks Simba over the head with his cane. Simba reacts with “Ow! geez, what was that for?” and Rafiki replies, “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past!” Comical, yes, and words to live by, absolutely! Rafiki continues: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
Lion King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF39O_OQm6M
How we deal with the past in the present will profoundly affect how we run our businesses and the culture we create at work and home. It’s a choice!
We can get very distracted these days with social media, politics, the pandemic, gossip, and just all the minutiae around us. This may cause our priorities to get skewed.
In the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the lead character Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) said, “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”… If life is a box of chocolates, would it always be sweet? The past will prove differently, and maybe it’s not what we take out of the box rather what we put into our life’s jar.
To that point, here is what I believe is the perfect analogy:
This is a very important life lesson that a philosophy teacher taught his students. He entered the class, cleared off his desk, and placed an empty mason jar on top of the desk. He proceeded to fill up the jar with golf balls until he could fit no more. He looked at the classroom and asked his students if they agreed that the jar was full. Every student agreed that the jar was full.
The teacher then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar with the golf balls. The pebbles filled the space between the golf balls. He asked a second time if the jar was full. Once again, they agreed that it was full.
Now the teacher picked up a bag of sand and poured it into the mason jar. The sand filled all the empty space between the golf balls and pebbles. He asked a third time if the jar was full. The students agreed it was technically full.
Finally, the teacher pulled out two beer bottles from under his desk and poured one into the jar filling the space between the sand. Now the students began to laugh, wondering how far this was going.
The teacher waited until the laughter stopped. “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life,” he started. “The golf balls represent the important things. Your family, children, health, friends, and passions. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles represent the other things in life that matter, such as your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff. If you put the sand in first, there is no room for pebbles or golf balls.
The same goes for life. If you spend all of your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the most important things. Pay attention to the important things in your life. Enjoy time with family. Go to dinner with your spouse. Play games with your kids. There will ALWAYS be time to clean the house or take yourself shopping.
Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. The rest is just sand. You are dismissed.”
Before the students left, one shouted out. “You never mentioned what the beer represents!”
The professor smiled and said, “Well, I’m glad you asked. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room to have a couple of beers with a friend.”
Teacher’s analogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqGRnlXplx0
To expand upon this analogy, the golf balls represent the things that should be a top priority in life: Faith, Family, Friends, Health, and Freedom. The pebbles represent important things, like our business, careers, and possessions, which all support the top priorities in one way or another. And the sand represents all the other small stuff that occupies our time: social media, politics, gossip, divisiveness, and the like. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be informed or have an opinion, as long as we respect others. Filling our jar with sand first will not leave any room for the most important things in life.
Dwelling on the mistakes of the past can lead to depression. Learning lessons from the past creates wisdom. How we deal with the past and prioritize our present will either create anxiety or hope for the future. It’s a choice!
Steve Mores is the Divisional President at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.
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