I was in the only place I can get any reading done the other day, and the book of choice was “Time Management for Entrepreneurs.” (Longer title: “The Ultimate No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Time Productivity and Sanity.”) It’s by Dan Kennedy, who has a series of harsh but awesome books on marketing, entrepreneurship, etc.
He had a chapter called “The Number One Most Powerful Personal Discipline in All the World.” I’ve excerpted some relevant bits below, and I’ve got to say, it’s right on. Sometimes there are unforeseen factors that makes it impossible to always be punctual, but it reminds me that there ARE still processes we can employ to avoid those unforeseen factors.
I’ve said it again and again: half the reason we get good reviews – more than half, easily – is that 1) We show up, 2) We show up on time, 3) We show up on time ready to work. I can’t tell you how many calls and e-mails I get from panicky people whose movers failed to show up, or called the night before to cancel. Now, my record isn’t perfect, but knowing how low the bar is, it’s easy to shine.
I'm sure there are exceptions somewhere, but so far, in 25-plus years of taking note of this, everybody I've met and gotten to know who devoutly adheres to this discipline becomes exceptionally successful AND everybody I've met and gotten to know who ignores this discipline fails. Is it possible that this one discipline alone is so powerful it literally determines success or failure?
The discipline that I am talking about is PUNCTUALITY. Being punctual. Being where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there, as promised, without exception, without excuse, every time, all the time. I cannot tell you how important I believe this is. But I'll tell you some of the reasons why I believe in its indescribably great importance.
First of all, being punctual gives you the right--the positioning--to expect and demand that others treat your time with utmost respect. You cannot reasonably hope to have others treat your time with respect if you show little or no respect for theirs. So, if you are not punctual, you have no leverage, no moral authority. But the punctual person gains that advantage over staff, associates, vendors, clients, everybody.
It is my conviction that a person who cannot keep appointments on time, cannot keep scheduled commitments, or cannot stick to a schedule cannot be trusted in other ways either.
Fundamental dishonesty expresses itself in many different ways, but this is definitely one of them. I think it is significant that the man I consider to be the most frequently and consistently dishonest and disreputable U.S. president of my lifetime, Bill Clinton--famous for his tortured deconstruction of the word "is"--was also notorious for being on "Clinton Time"--meaning anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours late to everything, thus being disrespectful to everyone.
There is a link between respect for others' time and respect for others' opinions, property, rights, other kinds of agreements, and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality. So, as a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone. And, when I violate this, as I occasionally foolishly do, I always get burned.