A Jug, Golf Balls, Pins, Sand and Two Cups of Coffee

It was the class last ever lecture with Mrs Tan. After this lecture, the students will take their final exams and hopefully, graduate with flying colours. Before Mrs Tan dismisses the students for the final time, she took an empty jug from a big black bag and place the jug on a table.

“This jug represents our life”, she said. The students stopped chattering amongst themselves and focused their attention on Mrs Tan, curious to see what Mrs Tan was going to do next. Mrs Tan reached into her black bag, pulled out a box of gold balls and filled the entire jug with golf balls.

“Is the jug full?”, she asked. “Yes!”, the students responded immediately. Mrs Tan reached into her black bag, pulled out a box of pins and poured the pins into the jug. She gave the jug a good shake and the pins sipped through the gap between the golf balls.

“Is the jug full?”, she asked again. “Yes!”, the students responded, but not as loud and assured as the previous time. Mrs Tan then pulled a bucket of sand from underneath her table and poured the sand into jug, filling up all the gaps between the golf balls and pins.

“Now, is the jug full?”, she asked for the third time. “Yes!”, the students responded loudly and confidently. Mrs Tan then walked over to another table, took two cups of coffee and emptied the coffee into the jug.

“Now, is the jug full?”, she asked. The students laugh but none responded, not sure whether Mrs Tan has another trick up her sleeve.

“This jug represents our life. The golf balls represent the most important things in our life, such as health, family and career. We should fill our lives with as many of such important things as possible. The pins represent things that make our lives more comfortable, such as a car, laptop and a nice comfortable pair of shoe. We should always find space for such comfort in lives. The sand represents the finer things in life, such as an expensive holiday or a sports car. It is good to reward ourselves with such luxuries from time to time, but only after we have taken care of our ‘golf balls’ and ‘pins’.”

“What about the coffee?”, a student shouted from the last row of the lecture hall. Mrs Tan, “The coffee? Well, no matter how packed our life is, we should always remember to make room for coffee with our friends.”

Written by Joey NG (Facilitator)
Adapted from a graduation speech. 2nd September 2016