I had a client meeting today and arrived a few minutes early. My primary contact was already in the room, and commented about me arriving early. They grew up with a boss that thought fifteen minutes early was on time, so they learned to value people who arrive early. He appreciated that I was ready to start before the meeting actually started.
I had a boss who waited for everyone to arrive before starting meetings. There was one person on our team who always – and I do mean always – arrived late. After many months of waiting in rooms for the late one to arrive, I spoke to my boss privately about how disrespectful I thought this practice of waiting had become. That boss was so afraid of rocking the boat that they would rather have ten people sitting there for ten, twenty sometimes thirty minutes chatting and doing nothing rather than talk to the offender about being on time. Next time that person was late I spoke up in front of the room and asked them to stop disrespecting our time. The excuses started flying and I simply mentioned that what may have been an excuse had now become acceptable as normal behavior, and that “normal behavior” was anything but normal. Funny how next meeting they showed up on time. Everyone else in the group thanked me for speaking up.
There is so much out there about time management, time scheduling, time leveraging and how to use our time to our best advantage. There is very little out there about respecting other people’s time. We have the opportunity every day to tell people what we think about them and how we feel about them by the way we respect their time. Be it a colleague, friend, our family, or even ourselves, wasting time is a nasty habit and a very selfish practice. Yes life gets in the way sometimes, and sometimes we build habits and excuses around our lack in things that we have no awareness about how it impacts others.
Time cannot be bought, sold, built or won back. Once it is gone, it is gone. I ask you to be aware of how you are treating the most precious commodity you have and others have. Plan ahead, be prepared, arrive on time or at least early, and let your actions be what people remember not your excuses and bad habits. Time will tell how your behavior impacts your relationships, so choose wisely how you use time.