We all have priorities. We value some things over others. We prefer certain activities to alternatives. And yet, we're not always aware of our priorities. Twentieth century theologian Paul Tillich suggested that everyone has what he called an "Ultimate Concern" - a priority that trumps all others, a most important thing in your life. For some people, it might be life itself. For others, love, or family. For too many, it seems to be money, or power, or status.
The ancient stoic philosophers believed that our chief concern should be to know what is properly our ultimate good. Then we can take care to govern our lives accordingly, not letting our priorities get out of order, but giving the most time and attention to what's most important, and the least to the least. The fake urgencies of life often cause us to get this backwards, giving our focus to ephemeral things that are actually of little value, and letting them crowd out the things that are of greatest meaning and significance.
You've heard the old story, of the rocks and the jar, I'd imagine. A professor has a very large glass jar on a table in front of the class. He tells his students that he's going to fill it with rocks, and he does. "Is it full?" he asks. They all agree. It's full to the top. Then he produces a bucket of pebbles and begins to pour them in around the rocks, filling it even more. "You see, it wasn't actually full before," he explains as they all contemplate the much more packed container. Then he produces a bucket of sand and starts to pour it also into the jar, filling in all the cracks and spaces between the rocks and pebbles.
The professor explains that the jar is like a life. If he had started out filling it up with the little things, the grains of sand, and had packed it to the top that way, there would have been no room for the bigger pebbles, or the much larger rocks. But by filling it with the biggest things first, there was also ample room for the smaller things. He then explained the metaphor explicitly. If we allow the little urgencies and demands of life to fill our time and hearts, we'll have no space left over for the bigger things. But if we start of with a focus on what matters most, we'll also have plenty of room for life's smaller matters. It's all about priorities.
And then, there is, of course, the variant of the story where an enterprising student suddenly stands up, walks up to the desk, pops the top of a beer can he's carrying, and slowly pours it into the apparently full jar, explaining as he does, one more insight: "There's always room for Bud."
How are you with priorities? They matter in a business just like they do in a life. Get them wrong, and all sorts of things go wrong as well. Get them right, and many other things go right, things worth celebrating. Then, there's room for a Bud.