Monday, December 15, 2008

Timing is not everything

I think there are some fallacies that ruin our day and create unnecessary stress.

According to some scientists, solids are not really solids at all at a deeper level. Clean air is a myth according to author James Michener who said in his novel “Centennial” the last bits disappeared over Denver in the 80s. Food isn’t always as nutritious as it looks (darn you ice cream!) or as nature intended (genes added or deleted).

And getting somewhere on time is more luck than anything else.

While at work, we can agree that on the hour, we all shuffle to another room simultaneously to have another meeting. But even so we arrive with 5-10 min. lag due to elevators and other meetings running late in other buildings. Even with starting in the same vicinity and moving to the same purpose.

Life, on the other hand, has people coming from opposites ends. The most organized of us still occasionally misplace our keys (or glasses, drat this morning!) losing a precious few minutes. Trains are late. Buses are early. Sometimes both. Puddles appear like black holes at the strangest of times. All the planning in the world can’t do more than control the little sphere around only yourself and then you get hit with the chaos that is the wider world.

And then comes the biggest unexpected of all… Running into someone you have not seen in years while late to get to somewhere else. Which is ruder: expressing dismay at the lost connection while continuing to run raggedly on to your first commitment? or taking 5 min. to focus on the person, get a phone number and then excuse yourself to pelt madly up the street making yourself officially late for your first appointment?

All this and you discover your socks don’t match.

Lateness, 5 - 10min, happens with the best of intentions. I try and arrive 5 min early to have some room for error. I believe in respecting other people’s time. However…

Showing up on time is second to focusing on the person before you.

I heard the gasps as I wrote that.

Relationship building - networking or mentoring - requires you to listen. To listen you must be present. To be present you have to stop looking at your watch or BB. Sometimes that means you’ll miss the chiming of the hour.

And sometimes you will be a little late but, if you’re known to listen, they’ll wait a bit longer to have you join them.

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