It’s a topic I’ve played with mentally for a few days now – How much does timeliness play a part in what I’m doing? On the surface, it’s pretty easy: A tweet needs to be sent at certain time, our presenting sponsor needs to be at mid-field a calculated series of seconds before the National Anthem, and our first media timeout can only last 90 seconds without throwing a number of elements awry.
It’s been on my mind after a recent meeting in which I conveyed my frustration to a student who arrived to our meeting 10 minutes late. “I know – I’m sorry,” she began, “But it really isn’t that big of a deal, right?” I reminded her of the courteous professionalism that a prompt arrival conveys in the standard, quick lecture that I’m almost certain came from my Dad about arriving to practice on time.
I’m confident my ‘lecture’ made no difference but, in the moment, it felt like the thing I was supposed to say as the person helping a student. It was lame. I know. Forgive me.
Back to the point.
It matters. Timeliness, that is. My timing is what makes my sarcasm funny in a conversation. It’s what conveys wit in my favorite back-and-forth discussions. It’s how I know when to enter a conversation and when to store a topic away for a better time. Anticipation, discretion, foresight and more – Nouns revolving around timeliness that can either make a moment or create embarrassment with the lack-thereof.
An example: I use profanity. I throw in some among drinking buddies for emphasis, throw it at furniture when I inevitably run into something in the middle of the night, and pronounce some syllable by syllable in my head when something is going wrong in the middle of one of our games.
You know when I don’t use it? In front of my grandmother, around a random group of little kids, and to people I don’t know (among many, many, many other situations).
You’re thinking to yourself: “Jeff: You’ve wasted your time in typing this and my time in reading this.” Stay with me.
I’d argue discretion has become a lost art. I’m telling you that timeliness isn’t appreciated as much as it should be. Remember ‘Think before you speak’ being pushed between your ears? There’s a reason. I’ve had to bite my tongue throughout my first year as a full-time employee because I know there’s a time and a place. All the while, I’ve watched others place their foot in their collective mouths over and over. (Make no mistake: I have too, just not quite as often as some around me.) For now, it’ll provide entertainment for me. But it’s a topic worth rolling between your ears: Do you have that sense of timing? Anticipation and discretion? Think back over the last few days and look at it. It’s worth revisiting.
I’m just saying: Timeliness matters.