This is a great post from my friend Dan Campbell. Dan is an instigator of good stories, the kind of guy you want on your side when you’ve got a great idea to pull off. I hope you connect with his writing as much as I do!
That word gives me the creeps. It makes my skin crawl. I have nightmares about showing up to a party at the time printed on an invitation or being early to a work meeting. This isn’t a new thing; for as long as I can remember I’ve struggled to be on time. It seems like I was born with the remarkable ability to find a way to always run a few minutes late.
I envy you punctual people. You probably enjoy getting up early in the mornings, sit in the front of the classroom, and have already finished your Christmas shopping. For you, punctuality is in your DNA. Being on time is second nature. But for those of us who, like me, could write a book on One-Hundred and One Ways to be Late—this one is for you.
It took an intervention to really learn I had a problem. It wasn’t a planned intervention, it just kind of happened one day when I was late. Very late.
There was a group of three guys I met with on a weekly basis (we called it a discipleship group) to talk about the bible, life, work, girls, whatever. One particular day, I was forty minutes late. You heard that right: forty. And we met every single week, so it wasn’t like I had an excuse which made it particularly deplorable.
Not only was I forty minutes late, but I had racked up quite a debt of lateness. Most weeks it was between 5-10 minutes. This time, however, they weren’t going to let it go. They grilled me on why I was constantly running behind and if I had any plans on fixing it. One of the things said that day punched me square in the face:
“Since you’re late all the time, it makes me think you don’t even care about this group.”
That hurt. In a good way.
You can insert anything for “this group.” It can be “this class,” “this job,” or “this appointment.” Whatever works for you.
The point is: being late says something about you.
In fact, it practically shouts it.
See, I believed the lie that if I was only a few minutes behind no-one would really notice. I even thought it might make seem like I was incredibly important. Don’t believe this lie.
People notice and you’re not that important.
When I’m late, nobody thinks: “Wow! He must’ve rescued a kitten before he got here!” In reality, they’re just annoyed. They probably had to mindlessly scroll through Twitter for a few more minutes so they didn’t look awkward.
But I want people to know I do value their time. I want my boss to know I’m an employee he can count on. I don’t want to be forced into the half-jog, half-walk thing people do when they’re tardy for something. Simply, I want to be on time.
So as we approach the new year; a season where we reflect on the year that was and set goals for the year that will be, I’ve decided to work hard on being on time in 2016.
I’m almost certainly going to fail—I may genuinely get caught in traffic or sleep through an alarm—but I’ll do everything in my power to be punctual. A wonderfully simple, yet incredibly difficult task.
Maybe if I do it for long enough I’ll actually start being early to things.
Or maybe not.