"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Stop Sorting Gravel


Stephen R. Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, used a dramatic illustration to teach the value of time and energy management. Covey would invite an audience member up on to the stage where a table would be set up with containers holding rocks of various sizes from Gravel on up to Big Rocks. Two large bowls would sit beside the containers, one empty, the other with gravel and other smaller rocks inside. The audience member would be challenged to place the Big Rocks into each of the two large bowls. It would be virtually impossible to force the Big Rocks into the bowl already containing the gravel and small rocks; no matter how you tried to wedge or work them in, the smaller rocks resisted moving aside to make room. However, when the Big Rocks were placed in first in the other large bowl, the smaller rocks easily fit into the area around the Big Rocks, the gravel fit in around the small rocks and low and behold there was even room for sand to fit in and after that there was even room for water.

The message was “Big Rocks” first: Put the most important things on your schedule first, fit everything else around them. The key is that they are important to YOU, not to others. You get to decide what they are and make sure it’s you that’s deciding! It may take time to get control of your schedule, it may be a process but the sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to make progress. Without creating a Life Plan, without thinking through our “Passion and Purpose”, without focusing on our Big Rocks, it is all too easy to end up “Sorting Gravel”, giving our best energy to things that aren’t our highest leverage point! Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least.

What were you put on this Earth to do? What is your Passion and Purpose? Your Destiny? Your Gift? How can your Life make a Difference?

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music.” – Martin Luther King Jr.; 1929 – 1968

Closing Thoughts:

– If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

– Every yes is a no to something else, know what you say no to.

– Schedule your priorities, do not merely prioritize your schedule.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier


Practicing Ta eph’hemin, Ta ouk eph’hemin

what you can control

Ta eph’hemin, ta ouk eph’hemin is a Stoic saying dating back two millennia which translates “What is up to us, what is not up to us.” Philosophically, it means releasing that which is beyond our control and focusing our thoughts and energies on that which we can impact. We will be more productive and more relaxed once we cease spinning our wheels on things we can do nothing about (this includes worrying once we have taken all reasonable steps) and instead turn our minds toward those things where we can make a difference.

The Stoic’s philosophy was simple and logical: “(T)he path to happiness is found in accepting this moment as it presents itself, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.” – Wikipedia

To a certain degree “what is up to us, what is not up to us” is a matter of choice and priorities. Life presents us with many opportunities and challenges, including ways to better ourselves, our communities, our world; we cannot accept them all. To be most effective in the areas we do choose to get involved, it behooves us to fully release the remainder.

Closing Quotes:

“Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.” — Publilius Syrus, 85–43 BC

“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty.” – Lao-tsu, 604 BC – 531 BC

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius, 121 – 180, Emperor of Rome, 161 to 180

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier


The 30/10 Promise

pause and reflect

Give me 30 minutes a weekend and 10 minutes a day and I will promise you a transformed life.

Heady claim, right? Well, I mean it.

30 minutes of quiet time every weekend, reflecting back upon your week, where your time and energy went; how well aligned it was with your values and goals, how you will do better, be smarter/wiser next week, adjusting, fine tuning based upon the feedback/analysis. The military calls this process “Post Action Review” and it is an invaluable learning exercise, a powerful tool to turbo charge your self-awareness and EQ development.

10 minutes a day to make sure you are on track, loading in Big Rocks first. I utilize my morning and evening drive time to do this review, insuring as much time invested as possible in Quadrant 2 of the Covey’s Time/Energy Matrix i.e. Q2: Important but not Urgent, Q1: Important AND Urgent tends to take care of itself!

Make and keep this 30/10 Promise to yourself and you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life, your happiness, and your productivity over the long haul. CAUTION: just like it takes a LOT more than a few visits to the gym to transform your physique, so it takes time for the 30/10 Promise to work its wonders. CAUTION #2: Just as the effects of physical exercise wear off over time if you cease, so do the benefits of the 30/10 Promise!

Closing Quotes:

“Either the day runs you or you run the day.” – Jim Rohn, 1930-2009

“The common denominator of success — the secret of success of everyone who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that others don’t like to do.” – Albert E.N. Gray

“Time is what we want most but spend worst.” – William Penn, 1644-1718, founder of Province of Pennsylvania (i.e. Penn’s woods)

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier