Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.
The people closest to me will tell you that I live and die by this principle. I’d rather sit and wait for more than an hour than come in 5 minutes late to an engagement or meeting. It’s something so deeply rooted into the core of my being that I will do anything to not be late. Anything.
But why though? Why would I sprint to a meeting on a summer day? Why would I pay triple the Uber fare just to be on time for a dinner? The reason is simple.
Time is our most valuable resource. When you lose it or give it away, you can never have it back. It’s the one thing in the whole world that money cannot buy more of, grow, or duplicate. I look at the time given to me by people like a gift. It must be appreciated. It must be respected. When someone gives me a part of their day, I receive the most valuable thing this person has to offer.
When you are late, you are wasting time. You would cringe at the thought of losing someone else’s money. Why can’t you feel the same about someone else’s time? You should treat it the same way. Being too busy shouldn’t be an excuse. We all have busy lives. If someone goes out of their way to meet, listen, or just be with you, be grateful by showing up on time.
When you are late, you are also being rude and selfish. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you stand. No one is excused from basic human decency. This is especially important for leaders of any organization. When you are late to a meeting, you are being disrespectful to everyone else. How do you expect your team to follow your lead when you can’t even follow the schedule? Leading by example is Leadership 101.
I won’t pretend to be perfect. I have been late in numerous occasions. Sometimes it really is unavoidable. In the rare times I am late, I follow a simple procedure. I inform people if I will be late even for just a minute. I apologize and own up to my mistake. And most importantly, I make up for it the next time we meet. For a lot of people, doing these three things is beyond them. They feel like their tardiness should be excusable and that they don’t need to apologize at all. Don’t be like these people. Again, no one is above basic human decency. No one.
What’s even more annoying is how people have made tardiness a habit. They will always reason out instead of doing something about it. That’s just how it is here. My time is fluid and I go with the flow. I just really move slow. Everyone was late anyway. Bullshit. Late is late no matter what the form or cause. Being late and unapologetic speaks volumes of how highly you think of yourself and how much you don’t value the time of others. I don’t understand how we have come to tolerate such disrespect.
Whenever I am late, I feel like I have let the other person down. That’s how seriously I look at time. I know that in the grand scheme of things, being 5 minutes late is not a big deal. I know that sometimes my frustration towards tardiness is a little exaggerated. But it’s not without reason. I gave you my word that I would be there at this time. My word is my bond. If I say I will do this, you can be sure that I will move mountains to do this. I don’t want any part of our culture of saying something and not delivering. It makes our words and promises cheap. The King of the North and true heir to the Iron Throne said it best: when enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything.
So the next time, you set a meeting, dinner, or date, show up at the time you promised. To be given such a valuable thing by anyone demands appreciation. And of course, respect begets respect. If you value your own time, learn to value the time of others.