“I was born late!”
I was, in fact. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I was born two weeks after the due date. And for the past fifty years, I haven’t done much to catch up. I am consistently late.
Today I finally realized that I am highly skilled at being late. I can arrive 5-10 minutes late to almost any appointment, any meeting. Regardless of the distance to the meeting, regardless of the time of day, I can hit that 5 minute window with remarkable precision.
I realized this while traveling to a mentoring appointment, to which I arrived 10 minutes late. I also realized why I was realizing it. I am talking with this friend about life management, as a spiritual director of sorts. And to be helpful that way, there must be some personal integrity. And showing up late consistently lacks integrity.
I also realized it because I am looking at deliberate practice, at seeking to improve the weakest points of what I am good at. I am reasonably good at conversations. A weak point is starting them late. So I need to work on that particular skill.
My friend Kay helped me sort the problem through a bit:
Here’s why she’s right, at least for me.
I often show up late, I explain, because someone catches me with a question on my way out the door, or I need to grab something from the printer, or I need to grab a couple books for my briefcase or I remember one last thing I needed to ask.
If I’m honest, however, I’ll acknowledge that although the last 10 minutes before I walk out the door are a flurry of activity, they are preceeded by plenty of time of doing…or not doing…other things, things that can be adjusted, things that could be better planned.
In previous periods of my life, I was late because I had meeting after meeting, each one running a bit late. It is easy to blame others for making them run long. However, I’m the one that believes I have to stay to the bitter end because I might miss something or they might miss my significant input.
However, whether it’s because I want the attention of arriving late or the attention of being thought extremely busy or the attention of the last statement at the previous meeting or the attention of rushing about getting out the door, it all comes back to what I want.
And that is arrogant.
And so it’s time to start working on the skill.
In about 10 minutes.
So, how do you make sure you are on time? And are you an on-time person (in which case, I don’t care :) ) or are you a late person by nature who has changed your behavior?