It’s all about Priorities!

Aug 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Articles

There was this story I read a number of years ago, wherein two gentlemen wait for a third to join them at eight o’clock in the evening for a meeting that would become the crux of the story. A few minutes before eight, one looks out the window, sees no carriage stopping at their door and says, “I don’t think he’ll turn up.” Of course he had valid reasons for doubting the man’s word.

The other says, “He will. He is an Englishman. He will be here on the dot, at eight.”

Sure enough, midway into the clock’s chime, there is a knock at the door and the landlady announces his arrival.

Ever since, it has impressed upon me that all Englishmen (and -women) are sticklers for punctuality. That part of the story has also made me appreciate punctuality when I see it. However, closer home, I have noticed it comes few and far between. It is not that anyone wants to be late on purpose; it is just that being punctual is one of the lowest priorities of our everyday life. Very, very rarely do I see a person who is *consistently* punctual. Some are occasionally punctual, some are sometimes punctual, and some are never punctual.

A couple of years ago, I happened to attend a session on Leadership and Management skills – one of the usual trainings all employees are put through, time and again. As long as it guarantees no regular work for a day or two, coffee in the conference room and snacks twice a day, no one grumbles. Some of us had got a warning the previous day from the HR that the trainer is like one of them Englishmen, and worse – he would peel your skin off if you’re not in the room at 9AM. True to the word, after a grace period of ten minutes, he asked one of the trainees to note the names of the people who came in late. Giggling and chuckling, and every bit determined to have fun, she wrote down the names. To each one of the late-comers, the trainer asked for a very valid and convincing reason. One said he was caught in the traffic. Another was late because he had guests at home and had to drop them somewhere. The others also had similar tales to tell. He shook his head at every excuse. Finally, he asked, “Would these reasons still hold if, instead of this training, you had to catch a flight at nine?”

No one had an answer, naturally. None of them would have missed the flight for any reason whatsoever. They would have made arrangements to overcome traffic jams, guests and other miscellaneous and unexpected hurdles. They would have woken up an hour earlier than they did. It is true that the training did not have the importance that a flight would have had.

If we really think about it, he was right. Maybe you already knew it, but that was the first time I saw it that way. Our being on time depends on how important we consider the event to be. If your child was ill on the day of the training, you would waste no time in calling up the office to say, “I will attend the training next time. I need to take my son to the hospital.” On the other hand, if an unwelcome guest turned up at your door and asked you to accompany him on a full-day tour of the city, you’d remember that “there is this very important training at office I cannot miss.”

Our obsession with updating every second of our life to social networking sites lasts only as long as we have health left to do it. When we’re drained out with an illness that consumes us, our only wish would be to get back on our feet as soon as we can. We would not be really eager to let the world know if we brushed our teeth or had food on time. Life, it is said, is all about priorities!

The next time you find yourself before a handful of choices, ask yourself, “Which of these is the flight I have to catch?”

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Jeena R. Papaadi is a Bangalore-based Writer, Blogger, Mother, and Author of a collection of short stories titled "Tales from the Garden City." If you like her writing, you can read more on her blog, or you can follow her on Twitter

Jeena R. Papaadi has written 3 articles on The MAG. View all articles by

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