Quick! What do you think of lateness, either theirs or yours? Have you ever had a problem with being on time, or have you dealt with others who do? When I committed to write this article, I had no idea how vast a subject I was taking on, in spectrum and substance. Not only is this a quietly hot topic, but it also has been studied by legions seeking solutions. Surveying colleagues and friends, I’m finding that most people like to be on-time and are secretly angry when others are late. Thoughts on both the causes and solutions vary wildly.
I first started thinking about lateness, when, as a child, I realized I knew one chronically late adult person (CLP) and one chronically early adult person (CEP). I noticed the CLP would go to everything 20 minutes late, thus—I finally realized—reducing the unpleasant event by 20 minutes each time. That’s a savings of 200 minutes across 10 events. The CLP would answer the phone, knowing that we should have left 10 minutes ago, thus ensuring that the 5 minute call made us 15 minutes late. But then it was “time to change clothes!” Sometimes, we got to the car door, and the CLP heard the phone, unlocked the house and went back in, to answer it. Pleading made no difference. It was agreed to set the clocks forward 20 minutes, to help the CLP, but of course, the CLP knew about the 20 minute “grace period” and maintained that margin still. The CEP liked to arrive early by at least 20 minutes, which served wonderfully for medical and business appointments. However, it caused an embarrassing strain for party hosts.
It has been said, humorously, by some who are often late:
Being on time never killed anyone, but why take a chance?
I encountered a stern standard for timeliness in “Omega Vector Training”. The leaders viewed lateness as something unnecessary, which you had created, to sabotage yourself. At the beginning of the course, you committed to be on time for sessions. “On time” was clearly defined as “in your seat, ready to listen and participate”. A one-minute piece of music was played to signal “move to your seats”. Neither stomach flu nor a flat tire was an excuse; these were seen as factors you had created. Participants not in their seats at the last chord of the music got to stand in front of everyone and be processed about their lateness. That training helped me to see life participation as a series of values-based agreements, with relationships bonded increasingly by the keeping of those greements. When we agree to an appointment, we are setting a verbal contract, and keeping it shows respect for both the party we are meeting and ourselves.
If we are late, is it possibly because we don’t really want to do that thing, or because we are afraid? Is it too many people, too much noise, or too much potential conflict? Might we be called upon to stand up and stand out to a degree we are uncomfortable with? Did that agreement get made for a time of day when our metabolism really can’t go at a reasonable speed? Looking at all the times we were ever late, if we’re honest, what were the causes? Could one cure be to change the way we make our agreements? Make notes for yourself with all your answers to these questions. What do you notice?
Would we be happier if we were always on time? Would our relationships be better? You choose. And that’s Upbeat Living!
Next time, we’ll discuss more causes, effects, and cures for lateness. Meantime, please keep sending your comments on lateness to email@example.com. Thanks!
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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