Everyone is late sometimes. We might be always on time for work, but always late when meeting friends. Or always late for family parties but always on time otherwise. Even people who are late 99% of the time can make it on time to an important job interview or court appearance.
We all know how to do it when we believe it really counts. Some things are so important we wouldn’t dream of being late. We build in a big margin of error to make sure we arrive on time. The international flight. The important job interview. The court appearance. We all know there are some things we would never risk being late for. But what do we put at the other end of the scale?
Hidden deep down in our minds, we check everything out on our “Secret Scale of Acceptable Lateness”. Or putting it another way, we CAN be on time when it matters.
We all have a list inside our heads which might read something like this:
ALWAYS BE EARLY FOR:
• Airline check-in
• Weddings and funerals
• Job interviews
REALLY SHOULD BE ON TIME FOR:
• Taking kids to school
• Medical appointments
• Client meetings
WOULD LIKE TO BE ON TIME FOR:
• Gym classes
• Hair and beauty appointments
• Leisure class
• Meetings with colleagues
DON’T REALLY NEED TO BE ON TIME FOR:
• Meeting friends
• Family parties
CAN ALWAYS BE LATE FOR:
• Dinner parties
• Music gigs (with support band)
• Movies (with ads)
This is why even the worst offenders never see themselves as always late. We can all be early when we have to, and these are the moments we like to remember. We all bury deep in our memories the “Oh sh*t!” moments when we wanted to sink through the floor with embarrassment. This explains why people we know as lifelong procrastinators can be so totally in denial “Me! Always late? You’re kidding! I can be on time if it really matters.”
The big problem is that the people whom we love the most are the ones who we don’t mind being late for. We can relax – we know they won’t hold it against us. But we might not realize that it’s always the same people we keep waiting – our friends and family. So although we see ourselves as being only late occasionally, they see us as ALWAYS late.
So take a look at your own Secret Scale, and see who in your life is always kept waiting?