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Punctuality Is The Politeness Of Kings Essay Definition

"I could never think well of a man's intellectual or moralcharacter if he was habitually unfaithful to his appointments."
- Nathaniel Emmons, American theologian (1745-1840)
I was late for work once. Once, literally! And, believe it or not, I still remember what day it was − Monday 13 June 1994. I remember it not because it was the day Exxon was ordered to pay $5 billion in punitive damages as a result of the infamous Valdez oil spill. No, I remember it because it was the day we found my old man lying sprawled on his bedroom floor. That was the day Dad suffered a stroke and knocked himself out when he collapsed. More notably, I remember it because it was the day before he went for good. And so, after 10½ years of never having been late for work, that was how a blip finally made its way into my impeccable attendance record.

I take immense pride in my punctuality (at least two acquaintances have described it as "frightening") and vividly remember how my boss penned the single word "exemplary" under the column marked "Punctuality & Commitment" on the annual appraisal form for 2001. And this meant a lot to me: it showed recognition; more importantly, it showed appreciation of something I'd striven incessantly to achieve. That's why I find it sad that in some cultures punctuality isn't even expected − never mind observed − and being late is deemed "fashionable."

I do not hold in high regard those who think it's okay to be routinely late. I think they are undisciplined, indifferent and lack a genuine concern for others. In short, I think they don't give a damn. I also equate habitual lateness with rudeness. In fact, making others wait - or making others also late - is rudeness (and selfishness) personified. In my younger days, I looked down on people who were always late for school, for an appointment, for work or for a meeting. I still do. The fact is, lateness really bothers me − which is why it drives me up the wall when someone is unpunctual, be it family, friends, associates or those on my payroll.

Punctuality is a virtue, and like so many other virtues, it is one that's (tragically) disappearing with each passing generation. Far too many people, these days, have lost that sense of urgency which once drove humankind to progress and prosper. And that is probably why it's getting increasingly lonely for me, as well as those like me, here on Punctuality Street as our numbers continue to dwindle. However, I'm slowly learning to come to terms with that loneliness in the hope that, someday, tardiness won't bother me as much as it does now. Not that I'll ever condone it − quite the opposite.

I think in many cultures today the situation has reached a point where trying to fight or discourage lateness is a lost cause. How sad is that? Closer to home (and until such time that my ability to do so is hampered by sickness or physical immobility), I'll continue to strive to be strictly punctual. Why? Because I believe that being punctual is respectful. More importantly, I believe that being punctual is right.

"Punctuality is the politeness of kings."
- King Louis XVIII of France (1755-1824)
Amelia Q. (Malaysia): I will never forget the day my Uncle Vince told us the importance of punctuality at the dinner table. Haha!! From then on, I have always tried my best to arrive 1/2 hour before appointments. In the end, I always have to wait at least 45 minutes before my friends/clients/etc. arrive. Thank you, Uncle Vince
Vincent Quek responds: Thank you for remembering, Amelia.


"Punctuality Is the Politeness of Kings"
by Vincent Quek (Malaysia)

Today is Tuesday, so this post is on positive personal impact.

Here is one of the easiest ways to make a positive personal impact: show up on time.  Louis XVIII, King of France in the late 18th and early 19th century is reputed to have  said, “Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”  Nice turn of a phrase, Louis.

Seriously though, there is a lot in those six words.  Kings (especially before the revolution) didn’t need to be punctual.  They could show up when they wanted.  Afterall, people would wait for them.
But Louis suggests that one way a king can show respect for other people is to meet them at the appointed time.  If this is true for kings, it certainly is true for you and me. 

I often joke that I am cursed with being punctual.  Punctuality can seem like a curse because so many people are not punctual.  I often am the first one at a meeting – and I usually arrive about one minute before the scheduled time.  Other people routinely straggle in five, ten or even 15 minutes late.  Often, they say, “the meeting’s not going to start on time anyway, so why should I waste my time by showing up on time?"

There is some logic to that question.  However, it is bad logic.  If most people arrived promptly for meetings, they would start on time and the late comers would get the message and start coming on time.

However, beyond that, being punctual displays respect for the person you are visiting.  It shows that you value his or her time.  It shows that you are a person who keeps commitments.  If you say you’ll be there at 10:00, he or she knows that you will be there at 10, not at 10:10 or 10:15. 

This is simple common sense.  Honor you time commitments, and you present as a respectful, committed, organized person.  And those qualities define you as someone who makes a positive personal impact.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: www.CommonSenseGuy.com for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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