"We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet."  Author unknown

Too often the tyranny of the urgent gets in the way of doing what's important.

It's a principle that's true in my life.

Unfortunately,  sometimes I get distracted by working on cleaning up my problems before eliminating their source.

I like to focus on improving my "time management skills." I listen to advice about working in 30-minute increments - or taking a day or two off of email altogether - or delegating better.  I read and read and read - never sure that even when I AM incredibly efficient that I'm doing more than mopping.

If you're like me, mopping isn't fulfilling.  What's energizing is finding and turning off the faucet!

It's a simple three-step process - diagnose the problem - implement a solution - clean up damage caused by the problem.

Getting these steps out of order is where we become ineffective - even if we are efficient!

You may find that you're a lone voice calling for a different approach. Your advocacy to "stop cleaning" can fly in the face of the urgency of your colleagues.   If you run the risk of being the group contrarian, put your opinion to the test.

Is your approach about the clean up or about finding the source of the problem and providing a solution?

Real career growth happens when you move out of the worker role and into the problem-solver role.  That doesn't mean that you ever outgrow doing the work - but you know better than to begin your work before finding the faucet and turning it off.