I realize I may come across as unprofessional, which is not how I would describe myself, and possibly strange because my views are not widely held; however I feel compelled to share my point of view on time.
Without trying, I’m usually 10 minutes late for everything. But what is late anyway? Not “on” time. Yup. Behind? Not really. I didn’t get started yet. Delayed? Usually. If there is a last minute call from a friend in need or a printer problem undiscovered by all who have ever used printers since the dawn of printing, it will happen to me.
I know it isn’t politically correct to say that I’m late for most things. And, certainly, as a coach, I think there is an expectation that I’ve mastered time because I likely coach people on how to manage their time. This is actually true. However, mastering time on my terms and being on time are separate issues.
People in my life who love to be on time tell me all about the benefits of being on time. Three things I hear a lot are:
1. You get more done when you are on time.
2. It is more respectful to others to be on time.
3. You don’t have to stress about being on time.
In response, I want to carry the torch for the other team – the ISH time people, as in, “I’ll be there at 3ish,” – and share our different perspective because I know it to be a much more meaningful and peaceful way. So consider these ideas about time:
- It feels like being on time really means getting there early, only to wait for other people to be on time, who are very often running behind. Hmmm. As a child, my mom used to arrive with us early for everything. We got front row seats but we were usually helping the staff put out the seats too. Given how many variables there are to arrive somewhere on time (wrapping up, transportation, other stuff, arriving), it seems like a miracle to me that people can actually arrive within a 60 second timeframe on a regular basis. Is this really necessary?
- Lateness results partly from the universe forcing me to (anyone who has spent a day with me will agree) but mainly from my desire to “do the right thing” in the moment. If a client needs a few extra minutes to get to the root of an issue, it makes sense to me to complete the moment vs. complete the hour. If all the people in my life know that they will benefit from what they need in the moment, surely they won’t feel disrespected when I arrive 10 minutes late.
- When you let go of the idea or showing up for something on time, you actually don’t feel stressed to begin with. It’s not as if you are completely unmindful of your commitments. Rather, there is great peace that comes with getting to people and places within a comfortable zone vs. running and stretching to make a 60 second deadline.
How does your relationship with time serve you?
Makes me think of my inter-cultural communications class in university years ago and how different cultures view time differently. There seemed to be a correlation between being on time and expecting things to end on time or conversely, being late and being willing to stay until the natural conclusion of the event.
Caucasions were most likely to be on time with native americans being more likely to move through life with a more “ish” orientation to time. Everyone else was somewhere in the middle.