Ready? And Prepared?

late travelerI was travelling recently and began to observe the behaviors of people preparing for subsequent legs of their journeys; how they schedule, allocate time, etc.

Over the years I’ve noticed travelers are either generally on-time, hit-and-miss on readiness (unpredictable on every occasion) or routinely, late. And, most folks seem to reside quite persistently in one of these brackets.

I’m one of those people that are always on-time. Any set-backs during preparations and I still stay on schedule. After all, if you’re ultimately ready several minutes early you can grab a drink or make room to move up downstream AIs. So, why not make the effort?

Yet this behavior is hardly the norm. Most travelling companions I’ve had over the years barely make it on-time or more commonly run a few minutes late and seem quite stressed as a result. And this occurs with people from a broad range of professional levels, skill-sets, ages and personality-types. Why is this?

Personally, I find risking schedules and having to rush to recover to be really undesirable. One more glitch can be a tipping point to a blown outing. Clearly, not everybody feels the same.

Certainly, everyone’s motivations are different, too. I find being ready gives me the capacity to adapt quickly if and when those unpredictable events occur, which they often do.

But from observing others it seems most people operate more from reaction than pro-action in preparedness. This is purely an anecdotal observation, but it’s made after many years bearing witness.

So why do most people appear to run late?

Procrastination means people will put things off. This can be caused by many factors; perhaps Fear of Failure, Dread of particular Events, or even Tiredness and Health Issues could all make people engage later than they should.

Whatever their reason, I don’t choose to be one of these folks who run late, miss appointments and need to react frantically when hiccups occur. And in my case, I believe this really is a choice.

Correspondingly, I’m guessing those same people who have such performance and schedule challenges have little desire to push themselves to be the always-on-time guy. It’s safe to assume that at some level this must be their choice, too.

The biggest problem I see with running late (or, close to failure) is that it appears to be symptomatic. And, those that practice this brinkmanship in the simple matter of being on-time for travel are usually the same folks who struggle more broadly with commitments.

The individual who generally fails to be on-time is typically the same person who doesn’t complete AIs in a timely manner, or blows hard deadlines and often seems unprepared, less able to respond to change.

Such performers appear unwilling (or unable?) to push themselves to achieve unless their hair is blowing in the wind as they play catch-up.

My personal philosophy is that we need to push ourselves to perform. If you give yourself too much slack you can hang yourself as a result. This does not mean we all must be constant, stoic Spartans. But we are usually better-off getting ahead of things and proactively addressing even those seemingly simple matters that have downside potential.

The reasoning for this is simple. You cannot manufacture time; it’s a critical dimension in an increasingly busy world. So, if you might run out of it, you’d better already be appropriately ahead of potential liabilities.

I’m not fanatical about risk, either. Allowing a little extra time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months or years, as is applicable) is generally a matter of Common Sense, Risk Management and Prior Experience. There is usually (NOT always) no point in overcompensating for low-likelihood setbacks.

So what is the conclusion here?

I don’t believe everyone can or should act, plan or schedule the same way. It’s improbable the huge range and variety of human personalities might easily align to prescribed, infallible, drone-like ways; certainly most would not wish to do so. Yet I do believe many folks would help out their Stress Levels, Health, Self and Professional Images if they didn’t underperform and fall-short in the described areas.

And being anxious, failing to achieve goals and objectives is certainly not a recipe for personal success.

Do you blow deadlines? Miss flights, occasionally? Show up late for meetings? Delay results to the frustration of others? If so, first just recognize the fact.

Next, I recommend you consider the consequences of these failings.

Lastly, when there are upcoming events where it’s a problem should you deliver late, be a little more proactive. Think things through and allocate more time. After all, when everything goes smoothly everybody wins in one way or another.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

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