Big Rocks in your Life

One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.steven_covey

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all.
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Dr. Stephen R. Covey,
First Things First

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Statistical Process Control

In industrial statistics, the X-bar chart is a type of Shewhart control chart that is used to monitor the arithmetic means of successive samples of constant size, n. This type of control chart is used for characteristics that can be measured on a continuous scale, such as weight, temperature, thickness etc. For example, one might take a sample of 5 shafts from production every hour, measure the diameter of each, and then plot, for each sample, the average of the five diameter values on the chart.

For the purposes of control limit calculation, the sample means are assumed to be normally distributed, an assumption justified by the Central Limit Theorem.

The X-bar chart is always used in conjunction with a variation chart such as the \bar x and R chart or \bar x and s chart. The R-chart shows sample ranges (difference between the largest and the smallest values in the sample), while the s-chart shows the samples’ standard deviation. The R-chart was preferred in times when calculations were performed manually, as the range is far easier to calculate than the standard deviation; with the advent of computers, ease of calculation ceased to be an issue, and the s-chart is preferred these days, as it is statistically more meaningful and efficient. Depending on the type of variation chart used, the average sample range or the average sample standard deviation is used to derive the X-bar chart’s control limits.

Statistical Tools for Managers – On-line Tutorial: Click here


Left Brain vs. Right Brain

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

Operations Management requires an analytic mind (right brain).

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“Save our Ship” and “Send out Succour “(help & aid)

SOS is the Morse code distress signal (· · · – – – · · ·).  Three dits form the letter S, and three dahs make the letter O.  These may be regarded as mnemonics, but SOS does not actually stand for anything and is not an abbreviation. However, if you have trouble remembering names and the “10 Operations Management Decisions“, mnemonics can be a useful technique.  I make associations all the time to help me remember people names and it is a proven strategy.

It has come to my attention that some students need a refresher in Algebra.  Many of the EBTM 365 calculations assume you understand basic arithmetic.  For example, in Chapter 5 we need to calculate the break even point comparing two vehicles using the Tottal Life Cycle Cost formula


This is a very common question today in our society when trying to decide on purchasing a hybrid or a standard gas guzzler. Generally, consumers pay more for the innovation and the cost of the battery.  Since I am planning to purchase a new car very soon, this is a real question I can apply in my own life… how many miles do I need to drive before the purchase price evens out?

I currently lease a 2012 Hyundai Elantra and was considering either purchasing another (2015 upgraded model) or perhaps the Toyota Prius would be a better alternative which costs $24,200 and gets 51 mpg.  What do you think?  Help me do the research at

Remember our #1 Goal? Have fun. So is Math =>

In order to solve for x (mileage) using the above formula, you will need to understand linear equations.

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SOS can also mean “Save our Souls”.

Hope this helps.  Brooks

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