What Can You Learn From A Mayonnaise Jar And Coffee?

I recently received the below story from a friend.

My friend has had a tough year, like many of us.
In the last 18 months, he lost his business, got divorced, and then lost his house. If anyone has the right to be depressed, he’s got my vote.

But he’s not like that. He doesn’t give up. He’s an optimist.

Just read the story that he sent me…


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 2 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 start 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. And 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, 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.”

“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.”

“There will always be time
to clean the house and fix that dripping tap.”

“Take care of the golf balls first –
the things that really matter!”
“Always 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 cups of coffee with a friend.

If you’re in job search mode, or in transition, or considering moving companies, I can’t tell you how important this is for your career.


No matter where you are in your career, or if you out there looking for a job right now… take this advice to heart.


People hire People! You need to get out there, be your professional self, and meet people. Meet people in your industry. Meet people in your gym. Meet people in your neighborhood. You’d be shocked at how few of your neighbors really know each other in a professional way.


P.S. – I guess that goes to show that your glass of water is never 1/2 empty or 1/2 Full… there’s always more room to grow!


Want a virtual coffee?


Views: 2912

Comment by Slouch on January 26, 2011 at 9:50am
I'll have that coffee Jonathan. I hope all is well with you.
Comment by Heidi on January 26, 2011 at 10:18am



I had to comment on this!  What an inspiring story you've shared.  One of the most important things you have touched on is the importance of relationships.    I honestly believe that sometimes in our quest to get things done faster and quicker we forget the importance of building those valuable relationships.  The value is not in the destination but the journey. 

We forget sometimes the value of having real conversations, taking a genuine interest in the other person and really listening to them.  Sadly many have become so numb to cultivating the most fundamental and basic skill  which is relationship building in pursuit of things and stuff. 

Sometimes it is nice to get back to the basics... thanks for the reality check!

Comment by Joe Laratta on January 26, 2011 at 11:22am
Great post and a nice reminder about what truly is important.   Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Reb Blanchard on January 26, 2011 at 2:28pm

I heard the same story from a professor about 30 years ago but he used beer as the liquid instead of coffee and of course the conclusion was " It just goes to show that no matter how full your life is there's always room for beer."

Of course I went to LSU so that explains that!

Geaux Tigers!!!!

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 26, 2011 at 9:16pm
Bon mot. For those of us who are pragmatists instead of philosophers...drink the coffee, quit sitting around dumping golf balls, rocks and sand into dirty mayonnaise jars, throw those nasty things away, they have bacteria all over the place, now go to work.. It,s a great day to be alive, something good is going to happen today, make sure you notice it and smile.
Comment by Darryl Dioso on January 27, 2011 at 10:16am
What a great post. Thank you.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2023   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service