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The virtues of punctuality

This month we celebrate Mandela month and one of the issues that received the spotlight is punctuality. Mr Mandela was a stickler for punctuality. He repeatedly stated his belief that tardiness in this department is a clear indication of a weak character. It is rude to be late. If you are late for an appointment you are actually saying to the other party that you have no respect for their own schedules and that you deem their time to be of no importance.

Tardiness seems to have become a common phenomenon in South Africa. We even have a term for it: Africa time. Adherents to Africa time think nothing of making others wait for hours. In their arrogance they justify themselves by arguing that they are busy, important, superior even and that their time is much more valuable than other people’s time. Strange that a really important and busy man such as Mr Mandela deemed the time of other people to be precious. He was never late for an appointment and he often took tardy people to task.

Punctuality is not just about being on time for appointments. It is also about turning up at work on time, delivering work on or before target dates, paying accounts on time and using time productively.

Many cases of tardiness can be ascribed to sheer arrogance, but lack of planning also play a very big role. If you have to drive to an appointment, plan for the possibility of heavy traffic or a hold-up. If you have a project to complete, be realistic when you set target dates. Do not make promises that you know very well cannot be kept. Do not cram your diary with appointments (doctors are often guilty of this).

Punctuality is a virtue and nobody has the right to waste the time of another. Cultivate a reputation for punctuality. You will earn the respect of others and you will show others that you have respect for them and that you deem their time to be as valuable as yours.

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