Life is like a bowl of oranges

By Ron Pereira Updated on May 16th, 2017

Bowl of OrangesAs I mentioned towards the end of our most recent video the demonstration with the oranges, pebbles, sand, and water can be used to explain a far more important life lesson.

Before this, please allow me to thank you for your comments and emails regarding the video.  I read one email, from a gentleman based in the UK, to my “team” and boy were they inspired.  My oldest daughter asked me when we were shooting the next one!

Now then, let’s get to the alternative, and I dare say, far more important potential meaning of this demonstration.

The Bowl

The bowl is you. Like a bowl, you have a certain capacity.

The Oranges

The oranges represent the most important things in your life… such as your significant other, children, parents, siblings, air, food, water, etc. These oranges represent things that, if lost, would absolutely crush you.

The Pebbles

The pebbles represent important things in your life… such as your career, house, car, big screen TV, and your yearly family vacation to Malibu.

These are things we’d like to have but if we lost them, while less happy and maybe a little sad, we would still be able to cope.

The Sand

The sand represents everything else… the things we do that take us away from the most important and important things in our life. These may vary depending on your culture.  For me, watching TV is definitely sand in the bowl.

The Water

Finally, the water holds everything together.  My faith is my water. It holds everything together and fills in any gaps I have in my bowl (life).

The Moral of the Story

The moral of this story is to make sure to add your oranges to your bowl first while having something or someone in your life to hold it all together.

If you spend all your time and energy (a.k.a. priorities) filling your bowl with pebbles and sand there will be no room left for the oranges. And that, at least to me, would make for a sad life.

Video to Demonstrate

I first saw this particular demonstration done at a church function… here is a video (thanks for the link Lester) for your viewing enjoyment (they use big rocks and small rocks… oranges are more fun if you ask me).

Subscribe to LSS Academy

If you enjoyed this article please consider subscribing to our full feed RSS.  You can also subscribe by email and have new articles sent directly to your inbox.

  1. Anon

    April 29, 2008 - 7:55 pm

    You mean “moral” but great points and great post!!

  2. Ron Pereira

    April 29, 2008 - 8:02 pm

    Indeed, Anon! Thanks for catching this. I’ve made the correction… that’s what I call kaizen on the fly. All the best.

  3. Franck

    April 30, 2008 - 12:28 am

    Ron, thanks for the work you’re doing on your site.
    I knew the demonstration, but with a slightly different conclusion (use beer instead of water): the explanation for oranges, peebles & sand is the same. But at the end: “even if you think you life is filled at his maximum level, there is always place for a good beer”.
    Cheers from France…

  4. Ron Pereira

    April 30, 2008 - 1:38 pm

    I am going to be in Lyon France in the near future so maybe I will try the beer demonstration! Or maybe wine?

  5. Matthieu

    April 30, 2008 - 5:22 pm

    Being from France as well I applaude Franck’s comment and I give it this meaning: however busy you are, you still have some time to spend having a beer or a glass of wine with your friends. And connecting back to Ron’s article, it’s “what holds everything together”

  6. Franck

    May 5, 2008 - 12:35 am

    Hi Ron, I’m 45 minutes from Lyon, maybe I could give you some advice if you need wine…

  7. Chris Akins

    May 10, 2008 - 8:33 pm

    Hi Ron,
    Very good analogy… and timely for me. Coincidentally I am planning on making some serious career and life changes for the very reasons you highlight. I think I’ve been filling my bowl with too many pebbles and too much sand. I think most of us reach a point in life where we re-prioritize what is important. That’s called growing and maturing, I think.

    Thanks for another great post.


  8. Ron Pereira

    May 11, 2008 - 7:07 pm

    You are very welcome, Chris. Thanks for the comment.

Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.