Most of us have arrived late for something at some point. Stuff happens. But, some are consistently late. I once heard, chronic lateness comes from an inflated sense of self importance. At the time I thought this was ridiculous because I was often late. It took me some time to understand what that inflated sense of importance looks and feels like. Labelling problems or symptoms usually cause us to put up a wall of denial, or to not look as deep as we would if we were looking at someone else.
Years ago when I was out with friends getting some food, I think. We had another friend that was coming by my place. Our friend called, saying that he was had just arrived, so I wanted to rush, so he wouldn’t have to wait as long. One of the guys that I was with said, “Let me just get this one other thing. He can wait.” That day stuck out I my head because I saw something that existed in myself without realising it. While I never blatantly said “let em wait,” I was still saying that with my actions. But I’m not sure why.
To take it further, I once heard someone say, “It is no easier to be late than it is to be on time,” which is the gods honest truth. Being on time involves the same process, the same distance travelled, same prep time. The difference is, lateness usually involves squeezing another task in before hitting the door, I order to “make the most of your time.” This task that has been squeezed in may be another form of self importance. As if to say , I need to get this other thing done. But in doing that something else, we are simply creating an problem. I’ll say being late is more difficult, because of the stress involved in trying to make up time by going faster.
Inflated self importance also shows itself in the rush that follows not beginning on time. Can’t talk now gotta go, get out of the way I’m late, you’ve gotta let me through, I have some place to be! Amidst that stress, raised blood pressure, and increased heartbeat there is a sense that things will go wrong if we don’t rush. But the rush was only made necessary by our imaginary endless time to get things done in the first place.
Getting to work or to a meeting late causes that stress. The rushing, the waiting at lights, traffic and slow elevators, then acting like you have it all together when you finally get there late cause a lot of discomfort. That feeling of the uncomfortable rush follows you for a big part of the day. It’s almost like you’re about to get into trouble because of a bad report card. Come to think of it, it might be shame, or a feeling of inadequacy.
Since we all hate waiting, we may deep down prefer the other guy to wait. If we arrive late’ they wait for you. The idea of being too early may even seem weak or needy to some. Showing up to a party late is the thing to do, because you don’t want to be there early, awkwardly waiting for the others to arrive. Better if I’m the one showing up to a party that’s already underway. Work isn’t the same as a party, but I think we think of it in a similar way. Instead of waiting for the party to start, it may be the idea of showing up before its time to start getting paid. If your presence should be paid for, you shouldn’t be early right? You’re too valuable to be giving time away right?
Once I saw some of these things in myself, I went out of my way to change. Funny enough, when I would leave earlier, thinking that I’d be really early, I wasn’t as ridiculously early as I imagined. That means in tea past i was cutting it way too close as far as giving myself sufficient time to show up. More importantly though, the stress of the commute has been drastically reduced. I now have time for traffic. I also enjoy what I do more and perform better when I arrive without the nagging guilt or racing heartbeat of arriving late.
I have gained the relaxed feeling of not worrying and racing the clock.
Unfortunately, there are no rewards for showing up on time. But people remember when you’re late.