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A New Year’s Resolution

Now that CES is over, the new year for most of us can really begin. It’s still a time when many people, including me, are prone to making new year’s resolutions. The past year has been dominated by challenging economic news, and our industry is not immune to the economic bad news. However, let us resolve to continue to focus on improving consumers’ life experience with our products and services.

As always, we will want to focus on the most important issues and not be distracted by the ever-changing swirl of issues that constantly bombard us. I recently received an email from a friend who forwarded a nice reminder of what I should resolve for the coming year. While some might have viewed it as a “spam” message, it had a universal, but often easily forgotten, message so I’d like to forward it to readers here.

His email began simply: “Remember the lesson of the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.” That story goes as follows: 

A professor stood before his management 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.

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 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 — family, children, health, and friends — 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, house and 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.

So, 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.

At work, focus on objectives for which you can make a difference, and focus first on those that will make a real difference to your customers.

“Take care of 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.  

“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 or colleague.”  

It’s a salutary message to keep in mind in a year that will be very demanding for all of us.