Issue Date: May 2010 Web Features, Posted On: 5/14/2010

On Time Is the New Late
By Kaiser Serajuddin

There's a lot more to punctuality than just a few wasted minutes; it's a matter of self-esteem, respect and image. You communicate a lot by how you value your time and the time of others. Valuing time management is a characteristic of only the top people in our society. If you don't have this control over your own schedule, you communicate to others that you aren't one of these top people.

But just being on time isn't enough. When it comes to punctuality I have a saying:

On time is the new late.

You can't just depend on being on time anymore--you've got to be a couple of minutes early every session. When your client, over the course of time, realizes that you're always early, that you're always there waiting and your serious about their session, they'll be more serious about the training themselves. They'll talk about you with others in a positive way, which is exactly the kind of effect you want.

So, if on time is the new late, what is late? Well, being late reflects that you're not serious about what you do. It creates a tremendous negative impression if a client who is not motivated about working out and has hired you to motivate them sees that even you're not motivated about the training session.

If you're constantly late, you need to ask yourself why. When I started out as a personal trainer, I was always exactly five minutes late to every training session. I couldn't explain it, but it was always five minutes, no matter when the session started. As I've moved on in my career and have begun dealing with employees, I've seen the same phenomenon and have begun to understand it: your punctuality is a reflection of your own self-esteem. If you don't really believe in yourself, don't believe in what you do, and your life is a raving mess, then no matter how hard you try, you can never manage to get yourself anywhere on time. You subconsciously make yourself late everywhere you go on purpose--a form of sub-communication.

Have you every known a sloppy person that doesn't really believe in themselves? There's always something wrong with them, like a stain on their shirt, or it's wrinkled and fitting poorly. It doesn't even matter if this person somehow earns a lot of money and can afford to do better; they just don't. What they're doing is sub-communicating their self-esteem to you. It's a completely subconscious process that tells the world what they think of themselves.

It's exactly the same with punctuality. That's why you'll hear some employers will immediately get rid of someone who shows up late to an interview; they won't even bother to see them. You might ask yourself, why are they being so difficult? The person might have been a good candidate, but they were just a little late. The reason is that the employer has found, through experience, that lateness is a sign of an even bigger problem. They probably learned that lesson the hard way, and so they choose to make this judgment call from the very first impression. You also hear about this with girls when dating; they'll dismiss a guy for some strange reason, like his shirt was too big or he had a bad haircut. From experience too, they've found that we communicate a lot through these non-verbal criteria.

In my case, I found that once I got better at this profession and had more success, I couldn't even imagine being late to a session; I couldn't fathom making a negative impression about the services that I worked so hard to build and believed in so much. The most important point is that this works both ways: If you want to improve your self-esteem and the quality of what you do, just improve your punctuality. It will force the quality of what you do to get better. This is called backwards engineering, and it's remarkable to watch it happen yourself.

When I was running my training studio, I'd often have as many as six clients starting their sessions every hour. Even though I had assistants, it was difficult to serve this many people, and if I wasn't careful, a few minutes might slip off of every session. But I refused to let this happen. I would grit my teeth and do whatever I could to make sure that every session started precisely on time. And I made sure my employees understood the importance of this as well.

Even though you may be busy, in the mind of your client, they're the most important person. Although they might not show it, they're watching every minute on the clock, waiting for this high-priced session they've pre-paid for with an alleged top professional to begin. They're not sympathetic to your problems or difficulties because they know that if you're on top of your game, you'll find a way to be on time. Remember that.

Topic: Jump Start Web Column

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Friday, May 14, 2010 2:40:02 PM by Anonymous
If you can't be on-time.. be early.

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