Since my post the other day about habits I've been thinking a lot about them. And I think one of the worst habits there is, that almost everyone is guilty of, including myself, is being late. People are late all the time. And I get that sometimes there's traffic or your train gets stuck, but a lot of times there isn't and we are just plain late.
Have you seen the movie Pay It Forward? One of my favorite parts of that movie is when the mother, Arlene, is running late for a first date with her son's teacher, Mr Simonet. Her son frantically explains that when you are late, Mr. Simonet thinks you don't respect him, a lesson the teacher has clearly tried to impress upon his students. When Arlene finally makes it to meet Mr Simonet, she catches him right as he is about to leave. She runs in, almost losing a shoe, shouting, "I respect you! I respect you!"
This scene may seem a little dramatic, but Mr. Simonet is exactly right. Being late means you don't respect the person that you are making wait. You can argue that that is not what being late is about, but Ya-huh, it is too. When you are late you are sending a message to that person that says, "whatever I was doing was more important than your time." If you truly respected that person, you would understand that their time is just as valuable as yours. So why should they waste their time waiting for you?
Would you ever tell a friend, your boss, or a client that their time is not important? Heck no! But when you are late to a dinner or a meeting or even a conference call, what you are doing, even though you probably don't mean it or even realize it, is making the assumption that they don't have anything better to do than wait for you.
Think about the reasons you are usually late... you pressed snooze an extra time, you couldn't figure out what to wear, or you wanted to read just one more email. Well I'm sure the person you are going to meet would have loved an extra 8 minutes of sleep, a chance to put on a better outfit, or to read just one more email, but they chose to be on time. And when you are late you are saying that your 8 minutes is more valuable than theirs.
And being late is a tough habit to break. Believe me! I'm late for stuff all the time. But I was thinking about how pissed I get when people are late to meet me. You just have to make being on time a priority and they watch the punctuality flow into your life.
I have a great friend, a very sweet and considerate friend, but she is always late. She says her family was always late when she was a kid and now as an adult she is still late for everything. She is just in the HABIT of being late. I was meeting her for dinner the other night and of course, I assumed she would be late. But when I got there, guess what? She was early! I couldn't believe it. I know it sounds silly but I was so appreciative. She said that she felt bad that she was always late and that night had vowed to be on time. A simple gesture, but a very thoughtful one.
I don't mean to be pointing fingers. And as I said, I'm late all the time too. I just think that on our quest to be a Positively better people, the little things are just as important as the big ones. We need to give to charity, try to solve world hunger and cure cancer but we also need to just be good friends and be respectful of each others time. So I'm setting my alarm a little earlier, picking out my clothes in advance, and hey, if I don't get back to your email right away, it is just because I was on a quest to be on time.
Song of the Day:
And according to a surprisingly large number of songs, being late will get you dumped! Please enjoy Barenaked Ladies' Too Little Too Late.