chapter  18
4 Pages

The Big Rocks

Friday Focus! December 10 “Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that

matter least.” Goethe At this very busy time of year, both personally and professionally, I thought a reflection on the never-ending dimension of time would be very relevant. My message is not one that delves into the Christmas theme, but rather one that has ample application to the holiday season. It happens not only at this time of year, but throughout the year-there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to accomplish all that we desire to. Time always has lapsed and continues to lapse for each of us from minute to minute, class period to class period, sunrise to sunset, throughout our lifetime. Do you ever feel stretched for time, like me? Do you leave loose ends at the end of the day? Wonder how you are going to get it all done? I have come to the realization that time constraints will always be present and that I will never get it all done. I know that we all strive to be the best people that we can be. In order to be our best, it is necessary that we take care of ourselves. So what can we do to manage all of our life activities, both professionally and personally? I have come to find comfort in one of Richard Carlson’s (1997) many strategies from his book titled, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff-And It’s All Small Stuff. His strategy (slightly tweaked) is as follows: Learn to Live in the Present Moment

To a large degree, the measure of our peace of mind is determined by how much we are able to live in the present moment. Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year and of what may or may not happen tomorrow, the present moment is where you are-always. Without question, many of us have mastered the neurotic art of spending much of our lives worrying about a variety of things all at once. We allow past problems and future concerns to dominate our present moments, so much so that we end up anxious, frustrated, and hopeless. On the flip side, we also postpone our gratification, our stated priorities, and our happiness, often convincing ourselves that

someday will be better than the same mental dynamics that tell us to look future will only repeat themselves so that someday will never actually arrive. John Lennon once said, “Life is what’s happening when we are busy making other plans.” When we are busy making other plans, our children are busy growing up, the people we love are moving away, our bodies are getting out of shape, friends and family members are dying, and our dreams are slipping away. In short, we might miss out on life. Many people live life as if it were a dress rehearsal for some later date. It isn’t. In fact, no one has a guarantee that they will be here tomorrow. Now is the only time we have, and it is the only time over which we have any control. When our attention is in the present moment, we push fear from our minds. Fear is a concern over events that might happen in the future-the copying machine might break, my planning time will be usurped, our students will not meet the standard on the standardized test, and so on. To combat fear, the best strategy is to learn to bring your attention back to the present. Mark Twain said, “I have been through some terrible times in my life, some of which actually happened.” I don’t think I can say it any better. Practice keeping your attention on the here and now. Your efforts will pay off in great dividends. In addition to this strategy, it was very timely (get the pun) that Jeff Zoul and Beth Richardson would share an excerpt from Stephen Covey and colleagues’ (Covey, Merrill, & Merrill, 1996) work, First Things First, with the leadership team. I would like to share it with you. It is nothing earth-shattering, and perhaps it is nothing that you haven’t already heard, but it is worthy to bring once again to the forefront of our minds. The story is called “Put the Big Rocks First.”