April 06, 2012

Creating Capacity?

I can multitask really well. The number of items on my “to do” list is usually quite high, and I love it that way. I thrive in demanding work environments that require a fast pace, and lots of action. That’s why I love production work; that’s why I love teaching school. Observant students sometimes ask me how I am able to juggle all of my responsibilities. I answer, “time management.” I have a robust work ethic to be sure. I also believe that there is a deeper and stronger source of my energy and enthusiasm for life at all levels.

I’ve seen the demonstration more than once. A glass container is set on a counter. First, it is filled with stones. The speaker asks if the container is full. Everyone nods. Then, the speaker fills the empty spaces left by the stones in the container with pebbles. Again, the question if the container is now full. Everyone nods again. Then the empty space in the container is filled with sand. Full? Nods. Then the speaker pours water into the container (now it really is full.) This demonstration has always stuck with me as an excellent example of one’s real capacity.

We are all containers just like the example. The question is how full are you? Are you simply full of stones and pebbles, or have you reached the sand yet. Can you even imagine the water? Of course we are all over scheduled and over whelmed by our lives. But does that mean we can’t handle just a little more? What if we practiced better time management? What if we began to say no to the things that really don’t matter, and freed up more time for the things that really do matter? What if we actually took time off?

One of the keys to my capacity as an individual is rest. One of my favorite lyrics from one of my favorite artists is,

My habit is to get in bed every night by 9:30. Impossible, I know. But getting regular sleep is a huge benefit to my ability to get things done. Exercise is important too. I am no fanatic, but I do exercise regularly and choose my meals carefully. No one can be effective if they are exhausted. Sometimes you just have to chillax.

Maybe I am unique. Clearly I am blessed with an innate enthusiasm for life, and teaching specifically, that I cannot take credit for because I cannot identify where it originates within me. What I can do is share what I have learned in the successful (and not so successful) areas of my life. That’s one reason I love teaching: sharing what I know works for me. So fill up your containers to the maximum capacity, then rest. Discharge the stone, pebbles, sand, and water as efficiently as you can, then repeat the process. Always enjoy the benefits of your efforts.


  1. Thanks for the clear reminder of what matters. I love that line, "My rest is a weapon against the oppression of mans obsession to control things.” Who is it from?

  2. Josh Garrels. Download his whole album here for free!


  3. Great post. I have found the value of regular sleep cannot be overstated. Maybe it's increasing age or the new career, but getting by on just a few hours and still being in peak readiness for the entire day is impossible; I really can't give students my best if I'm not in bed with a book by 9.