Does being on time, every time, assure success?
According to a recent post by my friend Chuck Rylant, it does:
When considering hiring someone for example, if they say they will call at 3:00 PM, when they call at 3:10 PM, I terminate the business relationship immediately.
It is interesting that Chuck chooses to be so black and white about it. I mean, what if he was hiring Donald Trump to speak about investing… if Donald showed up 10 minutes late, would that be it, finito?
This highlights an issue that drives me bonkers about our modern society. We expect it to run like a big clock.
Live by the clock, die by the clock. Really.
I don’t wear a watch anymore. I try as hard as I can to forget what time it is because I enjoy life more when I’m not focused on the clock.
For all of the millions of years of human development, we’ve had accurate handheld clocks for about 20 of them. That’s a tiny, tiny little slice of history. And suddenly, these little devices are making the BIG decisions for us, like whether to have a business relationship with someone?
When you’re hiring, it pays to be picky
I get it. When someone shows up late for a job interview, that is a really bad sign. There better be a very good reason. And, it better be clear that the person making the excuse is not just an excuse-maker in general.
However, just this one thing doesn’t say anything about whether that person is the best for the job. I’ve employed many people throughout my life, and some were more punctual than others. This was not always a direct correlation with who was more productive.
Clocks kill creativity (mostly)
Creative thinking is nonlinear. That means it is not predictable exactly when or where it will happen. It means that, even if you’re working around the clock, you may not get that idea you need to move the project forward. You may only get that idea when you take a day off and go to the beach.
When we try to box our creative thinking into little slices of time that are available during the working day, we limit it, we contain it, we corral it.
Maybe that’s why so few people call themselves “creative!” It may be that they’re simply doing things – like living and dying by a clockwork model of our lives. If they loosened up a bit, maybe the creativity would start coming, naturally.
Do what you say you’ll do, and do it with excellence
If I’m faced with a choice of whether to delay a project and make it far better, versus being exactly on time but delivering something sub-par, the automatic answer is not to always be on time. If someone needs something by a deadline, then being on time is more important. But in most other cases, actually taking a bit of extra time (a few hours or days) to do something that’s higher quality is always better.
The best of both worlds is, of course, to deliver on time and with excellence, every time. This is the gift of masters. There are very few of them who truly exist in our world – and they can charge insanely high prices because of it.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, let’s not try to live our lives exactly by the precision of the clock. We do not live in a precise world, no matter how much we want to try to slice and dice it into one.