Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Better late than . . . well, maybe not

Being late has its consequences and as this cartoon suggests, they can be significant!  Like me, you probably have some folks in your life that are habitually late (or you may that person in someone else's life.)  Sometimes being late is nothing more than a little inconvenient but sometimes it causes real problems and has real consequences.

Years ago, Sharon used to cut my hair.  No matter what time of the day or day of the week that I made an appointment with her, I could count on waiting 30 minutes to an hour after my appointment time before she would get started.  She did a good job of cutting my hair and had a pleasant personality but I eventually quit using her because of all of the time I wasted "cooling my heels" waiting for her.

I once had an accountability partner with whom I met weekly.  Regardless of the time or place that we met, I could always count on him being 10 or 15 minutes late.  It happened almost without exception.  Over time, I learned that he didn't single me out for the tardiness but that was just the way that he operated, consistently committing himself beyond his ability to meet those commitments.  The consequence was that I just let our accountability arrangement die a quiet death.
On the other hand, there are those who are more than punctual.  Pat was a woman in my small group who could always be counted on to be there 10 minutes early.  If she arrived exactly on time, she considered herself late.  If the hour arrived that our small group met and Pat was not there, then you could assume that she wasn't coming!  She was committed to being on time.

All of us are going to be late from time to time.  Stuff happens.  The world will continue to spin on it's axis even if I'm 5 minutes late to an appointment but consistent tardiness sends a message.  It says that I don't value your time or, at least, that I don't value your time as much as I value my time.  It says that I don't value the purpose of our meeting.  It may also indicate that I'm just a poor planner or don't know how to set healthy and reasonable boundaries that allow me to meet my commitments.  Even so, being consistently late costs both of us.  I may lose out on your business or even your friendship because of this.

How do you handle someone in your life who is consistently late?  How have you overcome the bad habit of tardiness?

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