Failing Honestly

Written by on December 27, 2017

One of my favourite rage topics (next to uber drivers and the lack of listening skills) is definitely punctuality. In private as well as in my professional life I do my very best to always be on time for meetings and dates. I am quite good at it – despite traffic and unforeseen circumstances – majorly because it was a huge part of my upbringing. My Dad was strict, even 30 seconds after the agreed upon time was considered late and had a consequence often in the form of earlier curfews. So every minute my sister and me wasted of my parents we had to pay back. I wouldn’t use it in the same strict form as my Dad but I think it was a genius way of showing us that time is nothing that comes back and if you kept someone waiting that is time this person could have used differently.

As much as being on time I am a huge cheerleader for saying things in time. If you are late for an 10 a.m. meeting don’t tell me 10.15 a.m., ‘cause guess what: I already know you’re late… The least a person running late can do is inform the other/others before the agreed upon time. Not always, but sometimes that can open up the chance for them to run a quick errand before or call someone back or whatever, instead of sitting around and wasting their time staring at their phones and getting bored and in my case quite angry and annoyed with you. Possible consequence of me being annoyed by someone being late: If in a restaurant/café/bar I might just decide to order the most expensive thing and make you pay, if I am waiting somewhere outside for you – I’ll just leave if you someone takes to long. They can then come and find me wherever I am and they gave up their right to complain by being late in the first place. Let’s be honest, there are just very very few reasons for being late – for all Nairobians: traffic is none of them, because you KNOW there might be traffic and then it is on you if you don’t plan accordingly. Most things are lame excuses and stem from the lack of understanding that people waiting waste their time – they have lives, people to talk to, places to be, errands to run. If a friend gives you priority and decides to spend time with you, you should honor it. Obviously, the same goes even more for business meetings.

To come back to the point of giving information in time: That not just goes for being late, but for everything. In my professional life I am acting manager of colleagues and one thing I hate is having information to late. Especially if it is connected to deliverables and deadlines of colleagues. I would imagine it goes for many managers, the thing that bothers you the most is not necessarily that someone can’t keep up their deadlines or deliver on their tasks, but that people usually wait till the last second to let you know. It deprives every manager and supervisor of the opportunity to solve the problem, chip in some work hours themselves or redistribute tasks in time to meet deadlines.

Failing therefore is not always a bad thing, as we all can learn from our failings. We learn about our capacities, effectiveness, and many more things. Most of all we also learn what doesn’t work. That can help on the way of finding solutions. It doesn’t matter how or in which time you fail when you work alone, but if other people are involved and here failing and missing deadlines falls in the same category as running late you should acknowledge it on time if you can’t avoid it. For most things proper planning and personal time management help to avoid failing and being late. If you didn’t do it, then at least everyone should have the decency to own it. No one is perfect and no one needs to be, but what many people in many countries are lacking is owning their mistakes and the consequences out of it. To this I only can say: unless you are a child up to around 14 years you have responsibilities and you should keep them. Also stop blaming outside circumstances for your shortcomings. If you are late, that wasn’t the traffic. In the end it was you ignoring in your time planning the fact that there will be traffic. If you can’t fulfill a task and give other people stress in sorting it on short notice, that is also your fault that everyone involved might have negative outcomes for their own work.

Think ahead and plan, especially if others are involved. That safes yourself from stress and others as well.

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