Is it worthwhile to develop punctuality as a habit in life ? In my view, yes and I learnt it the hard way. Based on my mistakes and experiences, I would like to share how it has helped me discipline myself.
Forty years back, when I was passing out of school I missed the opportunity of leading the school march past in our annual day since I was late by two minutes. The chief guest was the station commander of the Air force station in which my school was located and the function started punctually at 2 pm as planned . It was a missed chance and I will never ever get a chance to lead the school march past again in this lifetime.
This was a turning point in my life. I decided that I will never be late in college or thereafter in my career. I have tried my best to be in time always and this has helped me to build my credibility. As a student, self discipline helped me improve my academic performance and gave me ample time for my co curricular activities and also social service.
In my career, it has helped me to grow. Many a time my own children have asked me as to how it makes a difference to be on time in a public sector, where I started my career. I used to tell them that our actions builds our character and our character builds our legacy, which is the only thing we leave behind after we depart. I used to be happy that nobody could raise an eyebrow on my timeliness. In my understanding, timeliness not only means being on time every time, it also means living up to our commitments. If we are expected to deliver something or give a report or even share some data by a date and time, do we do it without reminders ? This builds our credibility and people start believing that they would like to emulate this quality. On the contrary, if we are never on time or do not deliver on our commitments, then it is the other way around.
Another interesting dimension is the concept of “flexitime” at work. While we have officially allowed flexitime in all our offices, many employees think that coming late is ok but don’t realize that one need’s to stay late to compensate for the same. We also think that if we come late or leave early, it is ok if nobody is watching or our boss is not in office. It does not matter if someone is watching you or not, you need to live up to your own conscience. This is the principle of self discipline.
I am reminded of a senior colleague in my career, who used to come late and leave early from work whenever his boss was on leave or on tour. He thought he was smart till the day I had to call and inform him that even the pantry boy in the office used to comment that on a particular day if his boss was on tour, he would vanish after lunch. This sort of behavior reflects on your character and nobody other than you can mould your character. So, I called and counseled him that everybody around observes us all the time.
I love the way, the younger generation lives life today. Their attitude to life and work is energizing. They wear their passion on their sleeves in whatever they do. It is worth remembering that while one can party all evenings, it is equally important to be on time the next day at work. This will be a true reflection of our discipline.
If you are on time, every time and live up to all our commitments, we evolve as a leader, who leads by example and will always leave a legacy behind us, wherever we go.
With best regards,
S Ramesh Shankar