When I was 12, I started playing Pop Warner football. My coach and the director of the program was the picture of the stereotypical football coach. He was large and loud. He demand perfection and would discipline when he didn’t get it. Equally, he would praise when we performed well. He was very organized and taught us all about “Lombardi Time.” Lombardi Time is the principle that you should be 15 minutes early or you’re late. This was a man who had a big impact on me in many positive ways and, 35 years later, I’m all about Lombardi Time.
Twice this week, I read about being on time. Terry Starbucker wrote about it in his blog post, “7 Ways To Lead Without Uttering A Single Word” and Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal article, “Sick of This Text: ‘Sorry I’m Late’. In Starbucker’s blog, he shares the impact a leader’s non-verbal actions can have on the people around them, arriving on time being one of the seven. Troubling is Bernstein’s take that the prevalent use of cell phones and texting make being late more acceptable because the offender can keep tossing out electronic excuses to keep the waiting party “informed” of their lateness. At the heart of both pieces is the issue of respect. Isn’t being late disrespectful? Is there really an argument otherwise?
I recall being a new college grad in my first job as a technology sales person. I was paired with a more senior salesperson as a “mentor.” We were scheduled to meet a client and we were going to be late. I was “freaking out” (to this day, I get anxious and start sweating if I think I am going to miss that 15 minute target…I got issues). I informed my “mentor” that I was uncomfortable with being late because I believed it reflected badly on us. He told me that it was no big deal. It’s okay to be 10-15 minutes late and the client even expects it (scary, but not the only time I heard this in my career). Are you shitting me??? I’ve been the client and, while I won’t embarrass you, if you’re 15 minutes late, I’m questioning your professionalism.
In personal life, Lisa and I always have a little tension when it comes to arrival time for a social date or event. Lisa’s a little uncomfortable being the first one to arrive and I have already covered my issues. I’ve actually heard it’s a social faux pas being the first one to arrive at a party. Can that be true?? How about being early?? The opinions vary. All I can say is if you ask me to be there at 7, I’ll be there at 7 (but sitting in my car down the street @ 6:45).