A conscientious client sent her coaching meeting preparation notes to me an hour before our meeting rather than a day earlier as she usually does. In her email she also shared with me that she has been ill and in pain. In my world she was following her energy, even while honoring our appointment today. In my reply to her acknowledging receipt of her email I let her know that in my world she can never be late, unless, perhaps, she sends her preparation notes a day after our scheduled meeting. But, there, too, I think, perhaps not. Why late? What does that mean and why is it such a deep construct in our lives?
I was raised to be "on time." I used to get in trouble when I was a kid for being late. I recall that being even just 10 minutes late was a problem. As a result, I have a strong internal clock and am rarely "late" to a meeting, nor was I late to work when I used to have a job.
Being always on time or early, as was my way for years on end, caused problems too. It created a lot of stress for me on the way to an appointment. Traffic became a problem. And, worst, friends who tended to run "late" were a problem for me. It created tension between me and one of my dearest friends.
I am much more relaxed than I used to be though. It is a relief. Though I still some times feel a bit stressed when I think I might arrive later than agreed to, I no longer use the word "late" in my communication update. Instead I will say when I'm likely to arrive. It becomes an update of my status rather than a value judgment. I might say, for example, "I'll be there at 10 after (whatever the planned hour was)," or "It looks like I might be there 5 minutes later than we planned." (You can still detect that 10 minute window even in my writing. I'm still working on it!)
There is much to be said for being "on time." There are numerous situations in which being on time is preferable:
- In response to a 911 call
- When reporting to work to relieve a co-worker
- When meeting with the president of your country, and he or she only has 10 minutes to meet with you
- When meeting with a client and they're paying you for your time - or meeting with a consultant you're paying for their time.
MAYBE. But, look a little more closely at each one of the above situations. Isn't it more true that the importance of being "on time" eliminates the possibility that there is perfect order in all things that happen in life, even those we would prefer not to consider? Just asking.