Being on Time Matters

If you’ve read this blog a long time you may know that I attended High School at a Military Academy. The staff there, many of which were military leaders were VERY big on being on time. My first day in the building as I entered another kid was coming out…of the window above me. He was tossed out the window for being late. 

During my four years there lots of kids were expelled for being late. They taught us that being late was bad, very very bad. They also taught us that absolutely no excuse was acceptable. Nope, not even dying. I remember one of the Sargents telling me that if I died then I better have someone prepared to drag my dead body into school on time because there were things he could do to a dead person that weren’t very pleasant. 

I was 14 years old at the time, I can still hear his voice. It made a lasting impression on me and from that day on I knew without a doubt that being on time matters.

For the record, the school is still alive and turning out future leaders but I don’t think they can get away with stuff like that anymore…which apparently is good. Okay, okay, it’s good.

When it comes to time there seems to be two major groups of people. Those who believe being on time matters and those who believe it matters that other people be on time. There are always a few exceptions, some people for instance just don’t think being on time should matter at all. They make no effort to be on time and they don’t worry about sitting around wasting time waiting for someone else to show up to an appointment or meeting. I REALLY try hard to avoid those people, they will never reach their potential in life and they could even prevent me from reaching mine.

So which group are you in? 

The group that expects other people to be on time but refuse to hold themselves to the same standard are very frustrating for me. They are thieves. Yep, thieves, they steal from me one of my most vital assets, time. Every minute spent waiting for them is a minute I can’t get back. I could have used that minute in pursuit of one of my goals. I could have invested it with someone who valued my time far more than the person I’m waiting for. If you don’t want to be a thief then be on time.

People who make other people wait don’t think of it this way but they are being selfish. They could be on time, they simply choose not to be. If you don’t agree that timeliness is a choice then consider how many times you’ve been 5 or 10 minutes late. People who are frequently a few minutes late could easily set their alarms 10 minutes earlier. They could leave the house 10 minutes earlier. They could stop hitting the snooze button. They choose to do none of that, they choose to be late. They choose to let other people wait on them. That’s selfish. 

At it’s core being late is an attitude issue. It shows you value your own comfort and convenience over other people’s. It is disrespectful.

People who highly value being on time send a completely different message to those around them. They send a message that says I value my time AND yours. They show they can be trusted and counted on. They demonstrate that their word means something. People who are always on time show they can manage their lives and that they will do what they say they will. 

No matter how laid back your company and your boss may appear to be they are paying attention to your ability to be on time. They are watching to see if you hit deadlines or let them go whizzing past. They want to know if the precious asset of time matters to you because if it doesn’t then it’s likely other precious resources won’t matter to you either. 

Remember, if a meeting starts at 9:00am and you waltz in at 9:01 then you are late. Always get there early cause if you’re early, it’s impossible to be late. 

How to Make People Trust You

If you were to take the title of this post literally it would be my shortest post ever. That’s because you cannot MAKE someone, anyone, trust you. That’s not within your control.

But what is within your control is making yourself trustworthy. You have control over doing things that people will feel makes you a safe bet in the trust area. You also have control, complete control, over not doing things that would cause people to lose trust in you.

If you want to be seen as trustworthy then you must honor your commitments. You must do what you say you will do and you must do it when you said you would. Every time you fail in this area you cast doubt on the next commitment you make. It doesn’t take long before your commitments are worthless. Remember that…it doesn’t take long.

Be honest. Obviously not lying requires you to tell the truth. Being honest is more than not lying. Being honest requires that you tell the entire truth. Hiding details that matter is lying. Very often being completely honest is very difficult. If you have a dictionary handy check out the definition of difficult. Then look up the definition of impossible. You’ll see that “difficult” is not the same as impossible. So be honest if you want to be trustworthy.

Be timely. Said another way, show up when you said you would. Always! Punctuality matters and calling ahead from your cell phone to say “you’re running late” is a poor substitute to honoring another person’s time by being on time yourself. If people can’t trust you with something as basic as being on time they will doubt everything else about you as well. They really will.

Only tell your secrets. Most people love it when someone tells them a secret. They love it so much that they can’t wait to tell the secret to someone else. Don’t be a quidnunc. If someone trusts you enough to share their secret with you then keep it a secret. There probably isn’t a faster way to destroy the trust of someone than to share something they told you in confidence.

Remember, the people you gossip with today are the same people who will gossip about you tomorrow. A quidnunc is a person who loves to gossip. Are you one of those? Nobody likes to admit to gossiping but most everybody gossips. Want to destroy trust? Gossip. It’s like a nuclear bomb to trust.

Admit when you’re wrong. It’s almost funny when someone who is clearly wrong refuses to admit it. Almost funny. If you don’t have the confidence in yourself required to admit you’re wrong then how can anyone else have confidence in you? Dale Carnegie said, “when you’re wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.” Admitting to a mistake or admitting to being wrong about something you said is a trust builder. People won’t have to double check you because they know you’re double checking yourself.

Trust is the basis for all successful relationships. But even the strongest trust is fragile. It needs constant attention and effort. You can’t make someone trust you but you can make it easy for them not to.

The good news is you can also make it easier for them to see you as someone they should trust. It takes effort, it takes time, it takes consistency, and it takes intentionality.

You have what it takes to be trustworthy. The question is, will you do what it takes?

It’s About Time

I remember a former colleague telling me about a performance review she once had. She was working as an assistant manager at a nationally known restaurant chain. It was kind of an upscale chain and as an assistant manager you would have been pretty well paid.

 

The day of her performance review arrived and she anticipated receiving high marks because she was in fact an excellent assistant manager. Almost.

 

As she expected her review went well; her manager pointed out several key areas where she outperformed expectations. She was equally as great with the staff as she was with customers. She understood the business and executed against the company objectives extremely well. Her manager offered abundant praise for her skills, abilities, and overall performance. 

 

Then, right in front of her and with great fanfare he tore her review into small pieces and tossed it in the trash. She sat there in shock for a moment before asking what he was doing. He replied that he threw it away because it didn’t really matter, it didn’t matter because there was one major flaw that made her skills and abilities far less valuable to the organization.

 

She had a problem, apparently a major problem, with punctuality. She was always running late, sometimes a few minutes and sometimes longer, sometimes much longer. 

 

He told her that all the skills and ability in the world didn’t matter if she couldn’t be counted on to be at work to use them. As an assistant manager she was setting a terrible example for the people she was supposed to be leading. 

 

The legendary former coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Bud Grant, has always said that a player’s greatness was not only determined by what he did on the field, it was also determined by how often he was on the field. He makes the point that for a professional athlete durability is every bit as important as ability. 

 

No matter what profession you happen to be in you must know that skills don’t matter as much if your organization can’t count on you to be there when they need you. 

 

Punctuality matters. Your ability to be on time affects people’s perception of you as a professional. Calling from your cell phone to say “you’re running late” is not a substitute for being on time. 

 

Research shows that most people are terminated from jobs because of some sort of attitude problem. Chronic tardiness is not a time management problem, it isn’t a traffic problem, it isn’t a lack of sleep problem. It IS an attitude problem. Chronic tardiness projects either a “just don’t care” attitude or a “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude but either way it’s an attitude that you don’t want to be known for. 

 

If you can be a few minutes late everyday then you can also be a few minutes early everyday. 


You just have to decide that it’s about time to be more professional.

The Lost Art of Punctuality

I’m apparently old. I know this because I can remember when being on time mattered. Punctuality was considered proper and showed manners. When you showed up on time it sent a message that you were considerate of other people’s time. It showed a certain level of professionalism and organizational skills that could help differentiate people.

I attended a Catholic Military High School. One of the very first lessons you learned was to be on time. When you weren’t on time bad things happened. Very bad things. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw the same person be late twice in four years. I never saw the same person be late three times. Never!

It makes me think that being on time is still possible if it’s important enough to you. In high school it was important to me because I didn’t like to bleed. There were absolutely no excuses accepted for being late. Punishment was swift and severe. You quickly learned the value of controlling your schedule and always leaving early enough to ensure that no matter what, you would be on time. You might get some place way early but that was very much preferred over being a second late.

You learned the importance of time management and effective planning. You learned just how bad procrastination can affect your chances at success. You learned that it really is possible to always be on time if you really really want to be on time. It’s just a question of priorities.

Today it seems as if punctuality matters less. Heck, if we’re running a little late we can just call from our cell and tell the person we are meeting with that our time is more important than theirs. I know we wouldn’t actually say that but don’t kid yourself, whether you say it of not, they may well be thinking it.

Being “fashionably” late has become socially acceptably and society is worse off for it. Business is worse off for it and you are worse off for it. 

Live for one week as if being on time was of major importance and you’ll be on time. I’m not talking about just work stuff, I’m talking about family and social events too. People who are chronically late are chronically late for everything. 

You can separate yourself from your professional competition by always being on time and you can show respect for family and friends by never making them wait on you.  

If you need to be somewhere in 60 minutes then give yourself 70. Not only will your punctuality improve, your stress levels from “just making it there” will go way down.

Punctuality is a choice, I encourage you to make it your choice today.