Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sorry I'm late, Boss, but the dog ate my BlackBerry

I am looking for a programmer who can build an app for me. I think it will be worth millions. Very simply, it works this way. When one of my (vendors, clients, contractors, etc.) that I gave a deposit or signed a contract says that they are going to do something for me by a certain time or date (and they don’t keep their promise) their phone starts screaming out “I’m late!” and the only way it can be shut off is with a password that only I can supply.

Being late for an appointment or a date can seem like a small thing that really doesn’t matter, but it communicates volumes, whether we mean it to or not. Being kept waiting is an experience that almost no one enjoys, because at best, it wastes their time, and at worst, it indicates a lack of regard. It’s as if we’re saying that our time is more important than their time, so we don’t need to honor them by showing up when we said we would. When we are running late, it means a lot if we call and let the person know, especially if it’s going to be more than ten minutes. However, if we are chronically late, it may take more than a phone call to properly address the issue.

If it’s become a habit of ours not to be on time, or worse – miss a deadline at work - we may want to look inside ourselves and see what’s going on. It’s easy enough to make excuses about our behavior, or to project responsibility on the other person, perceiving them to be uptight if they are irritated by our tardiness. What’s more difficult, and more meaningful, is looking at ourselves and asking why it is that we always, or often, show up late. Sometimes this happens out of a lack of self-regard, as if we aren’t really important anyway, so why will anyone care if we’re late, or don’t show up at all. Chronic lateness can also stem from being disorganized, or simply trying to do too much in one day. Another possible reason for being late to a particular appointment, or missing a project milestone, is that we don’t really want to be there in the first place. We communicate our disinterest or boredom by not showing up on time or in the extreme case, by not showing up at all.

In today’s Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, Blackberry, 4G laptop world, simply forgetting about an appointment or missing a meeting or a project deadline is almost impossible (for those who really want the job). Even blizzards, floods and other natural disasters cannot keep those responsible (who really want to do the work) from getting on with business.  Audio, web and videoconferencing allows anyone to work from just about anywhere. Skype, Instant Messaging, Voicemail, Video mail, cell phones, and other assortments of gizmos and gadgets makes it really hard for someone to make excuses in the new world of the Internet. The days of “my dog ate my homework” are long gone, both at school and at the office.

Ask yourself when was the last time that you missed a meeting, or simply forgot to do something, where you were not constantly reminded of the tasks at hand with an assortment of emails, voice mail messages, and all sorts of buzzers and alarms ringing your phones, laptops and assorted social media tools? Whatever our reasons, if we raise them to the conscious level, we have an opportunity to live a more conscious life. As we begin to understand the deeper reasons behind our inability to show up on time, or to complete a task on time and on budget, we have the option to communicate clearly and consciously about how we really feel, rather than communicating unconsciously by being late.

So, when the “I’m Late” app is ready for testing, I will have a free download on my website for anyone who wants to give it a whirl.  I have a few programmers who have promised me a working prototype by the weekend.  I hope they are not late, or they will (also) become my first customer.

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