My Proficorn Way (Part 19)

Punctuality

One of the good things that the lockdown has done is to make us Indians punctual! There is zero travel time so no traffic excuses. All one has to do is to click a link to join a meeting from home – so it becomes harder to be late. “My previous meeting ran over” can only work so many times.

Punctuality has been part of my DNA since I can remember. I don’t know when it began. Maybe it was because I grew up listening to BBC World Service radio – and news on the hour wouldn’t wait for me to switch on the radio!

I find my early attention on punctuality quite surprising since I haven’t worn a watch since I was 12 years old. (I had an old Favre Leuba wrist watch in school, and I lost it on a picnic to Gorai Beach – it fell out of my shirt pocket and got washed away with the waves. I was so upset with myself then that I decided not to buy another watch.) I soon learnt to estimate time quite accurately and realised that I didn’t need it – even in the pre-mobile era.

Punctuality is a personality trait. You are either punctual or not. There is no halfway house. And it is not difficult – one has to factor in a little buffer for meetings. You cannot expect others to be punctual if you are not. Of course, there are some unavoidable situations – in which case the host needs to be informed, even if it is a matter of a minute or two delay.

In business and in life, punctuality helps. It can be seen as a proxy for reliability and willingness to keep commitments – if you cannot be on time, what is the guarantee that you will honour a contract. This may be a bit of exaggeration, but given that many people neglect being on time, it becomes easy to stand out.

Starting meetings on time is the right thing to do – else you penalise people who are punctual. The “let’s give the others a few minutes” line is ridiculous – what it actually means is “it was stupid of you to come on time because the later-comers will decide when the meeting starts.” This attitude can easily spread to other aspects.

An entrepreneur needs many things to be successful – punctuality is one of them.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 20)