Are You Draining Your Swamp or Whacking Alligators?

Toward the end of a recent coaching engagement with a client, I asked what he had gained from our time together.  He was very kind with the things he shared, and then he finished with a comment that caused me to laugh out loud and to think deeply. He said, “Even though I don’t always like it, thank you for pushing me to drain my swamp rather than just letting me whack alligators.” 

As I pondered his statement, it really made me think about how often we spend our time whacking alligators. If I’m honest, it’s fun to whack those alligators. I even brag about them to my friends and co-workers. But, what if…. 

What if the alligators are the small decisions and the swamp is the bigger decisions? We need to shift our focus to the bigger decisions, which make the smaller ones much easier.

What if the alligators represent the urgent decisions and the swamp represents the important?  The urgent can consume all of our time. Shifting to the important is important!

What if we do indeed drain our swamps? What happens to the alligators?  (That was my husband’s question when he reviewed this posting. I think it’s a very interesting one!)

There are so many things to think about with this metaphor.  Thinking isn’t action, though, so it’s time for me to push myself to drain my swamp.

2 thoughts on “Are You Draining Your Swamp or Whacking Alligators?

  1. I think I spend a lot of time “whacking alligators.” I am going to try to move toward draining the swamp. I will report back on my progress.

  2. Just discussing this today. I have transitioned into a job with far fewer emergencies, and I am actually having trouble trying to figure out how to shape my day and what projects to work on. I’m used to fire fighting all day and need to learn a new way to work.

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