There are some things that I am absolutely obsessive about and top of that list is punctuality. I would rather be an hour early than one minute late and I also don’t want to have to rush so I always allow plenty of extra time to get to where I’m going. This, of course, means that sometimes I am very early and have to hang around but that’s what coffee shops are for, isn’t it?

Seriously, it amazes me how few people put any emphasis on being on time. Their attitude seems to be “I’ll get there when I get there and, if I’m late, it’s no big deal”. The problem with this is that they don’t realize that they are actually saying “Your time isn’t valuable to me” which is not a good way to behave.

One of my oldest friends is habitually late and I made allowances for it because he was a friend. That is, until one very cold winter’s evening, when we had arranged to meet for dinner in the West End of London at 6pm. I stood at our meeting place, in the freezing cold, until 6.45pm when he finally turned up. By this time, I was more than a little annoyed so when he arrived, I said “Martin, I’ve just got to run around the corner. I’ll be right back so stay here.” He nodded and I did, in fact, go around the corner but continued on to the train station and went home.

A couple of hours later my phone rang. It was Martin and he said “What happened to you. I stood there for an hour waiting for you to come back.”

“Was it cold?” I replied.

“Freezing”, he said to which I replied.

“Now you know how I felt waiting for you. Don’t ever be late again for a meeting with me unless you cannot make it on time and then you call to let me know.” At that point, I hung up the phone. To his credit, he called back and apologized and has never been late since; at least not with me.

If you are one of those people who are always running behind schedule, then you really need to start thinking about the message you are giving and adjust your timing accordingly, because, I can, absolutely, guarantee you that, sooner or later, being late is going to either cost you a job or an opportunity.

If you are on your way to an appointment and there is the slightest possibility (due to traffic or some other unforeseen problem) that you cannot get there on time, call and let the other person know that you are on your way and may be just a few minutes late. That simple act of courtesy will be much appreciated.

Just remember the saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’ and you’ll never be late again.

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