Thoughts on Time and Timeliness
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 4, 2016
"To-morrow, didst thou say?" asked Cotton. "Go to—I will not hear of it. To-morrow! 't is a sharper who stakes his penury against thy plenty—who takes thy ready cash and pays thee naught but wishes, hopes and promises, the currency of idiots. To-morrow! It is a period nowhere to be found in all the hoary registers of time, unless perchance in the fool's calendar. Wisdom disclaims the word, nor holds society with those that own it. 'Tis fancy's child, and folly is its father; wrought of such stuffs as dreams are; and baseless as the fantastic visions of the evening." Oh, how many a wreck on the road to success could say: "I have spent all my life in the pursuit of to-morrow, being assured that to-morrow has some vast benefit or other in store for me." "I give it as my deliberate and solemn conviction," said Dr. Fitch, "that the individual who is tardy in meeting an appointment will never be respected or successful in life."
This is an excerpt from How to Succeed, or, Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune by Orson Swett Marden, written in 1896 and yes that is correct, 1896. Why do I repeat the year it was written? Because if you read it carefully and accept that words such as “to-day” and “to-morrow” are spelled correctly for that period of time, you realize that Marden could say the same thing today about business people of all walks of life.
Have you have ever had an appointment to see a Doctor only to discover that several if not many others have the exact same appointment time and the appointment that should have taken but 30 minutes to accomplish takes upwards of 2 to 3 hours? Have you ever taken your car in for repairs and was promised that it would be repaired and returned to you in just one hour yet not done so for 2 to 3 hours; or promised in 24 hours that quickly extends to 48, 72 or even longer?
I have spent more than 33 years of my life in the real estate business so my specific knowledge of “time” relates primarily to REALTORS® all of whom are truly fine individuals. REALTORS® however should take the advice of H. W. Shaw who said, “The greatest thief this world has ever produced is procrastination, and he is still at large.” With few exceptions and based upon my personal experience, REALTORS® are notoriously late.
“Then you must get a new watch, or I another secretary,” replied Washington, when his secretary excused the lateness of his attendance by saying that his watch was too slow.
In business a loss of just one minute could cost you a sale yet minutes are constantly lost by all involved. The crime occurs when lost minutes are forgiven because there were no lost consequences. But here is the rub, when someone gets accustomed to being excused for being late, the lateness becomes a habit. While YOU may accept the habit of being late, your customers I can assure you have not. Being routinely late is a vile habit that sends repercussions throughout your business career. When you steal a person’s time, and that is what you are doing, stealing their time, you might as well steal their money for we have all heard the phrase, “time is money.”
To put this into its proper perspective, think of it this way. As a REALTOR® I would hope that the expenditure of YOUR time is worth as much as $50.00 per hour and hopefully much, much more. When YOU go to a doctor’s office and expect to spend 30 to 45 minutes of YOUR time, it is like handing over to the doctor $25.00 or more that does not appear on the bill given to you by your doctor as a reduction in your cost. Using the lowest amount of just $50.00 let’s assume you spend 3 hours waiting most of the time to be called in by the Doctor’s Nurse and then you wait in a small very impersonal examination room waiting another 15 to 30 minutes for the Doctor to make his or her appearance. Over the course of the 3 hours, you have wasted $150 of your time and probably much more; remember time IS money and in this case it is YOUR money. It is money that you will never recoup because it represents the loss of upwards of 3 hours of your time; time lost is time lost never to be returned. I have known a REALTOR® who after waiting for more than 3 hours for his doctor to complete the process, sent the doctor a bill for over $500.00 for HIS time while waiting. When the doctor complained, the REALTOR® pointed out that $500.00 is how much his time was worth to him sitting in the doctor’s office spending most of it just waiting. He did not charge the doctor for the actual 15 minutes of examination time; more than fair right?
For REALTORS® who may read this I want to point out that there are Left-Brain individuals in this world and there are Right-Brain individuals. To a Right-Brain person time is not all that critical and if your customer happens to be a Right-Brain person, being late for an appointment will not mean much to him, her or them. But if your customer happens to be a Left-Brain individual(s), time is of the essence I can assure you. Being late just minutes will be one strike against you and you haven’t even opened your brief case as yet. How do you know which type of individual your customers are? You probably don’t on the first meeting so why chance it by starting out being late as a lot of RELATORS® are.
I once wrote an article on the lateness of REALTORS® and that was over 30 years ago, it was not published by the Board of REALTORS probably for good reason. I joked in the article, that in Baltimore it was 9:00 AM, in Cleveland it was 8:00 AM but at the Board of REALTORS it was 9:35, better known as REALTOR® TIME. Anyone in the business for more than 3 years has definitely heard that term when referring to “certain” fellow REALTORS® who are habitually late for appointments. “They are on REALTOR® time.” Sadly that same attitude extends to others within the real estate business such as loan officers, appraisers, closing attorneys, home inspectors, etc.
Why does being late seem to permeate the real estate business? Because most people have come to accept it even though they do not like it. My advice to customers is to use Washington’s comment, “You must get a new watch or I a new REALTOR®.” If you are the Broker, Manager or Trainer, start your classes/meetings regardless of who shows up on time, you owe it to the people who do show up on time. I have known some Brokers who have actually locked the meeting room door to prevent any stragglers from entering the room.
Some of the, let’s say more productive agents, think being late for an appointment/meeting/class is their mark of distinction as they proudly enter the room late and everyone takes notice of them doing so and are rarely or ever reprimanded for being late. Personally I have always found being late a mark of rudeness and disrespect for those who are there on time and ready to work.
From Marden’s book: Frederick the Great had a maxim: "Time is the only treasure of which it is proper to be avaricious." In the event you might not know what “avaricious” means, being “avarice” is being greedy or covetous. Being greedy of one’s time is admirable. Disrespecting the time of others, is the equivalent of spending other people’s money without their permission.
I have become a lover of Marden’s books. When read, you must appreciate that they all were written in the late 1890s early 1900s. Shockingly they are more applicable today than when he first wrote them. Also very shocking to me is that as you read them you cannot help but think we as a society have learned very little since his books were written meaning history does repeat itself and we are all living proof of that as evidenced by the content of Marden’s books.
Here is the best part, you can obtain most of Marden’s books absolutely free if you access www.Amazon.com and search for Orison Swett Marden and select the Kindle version. Of those that are not free, they cost a whopping 99 cents. They are all PRICELESS! This Nugget is all about time and how precious it is. Sadly most waste their time on things and matters that do not advance them towards their life’s goal or mission assuming they have a life’s goal or mission. My advice is to spend a little of that time reading material that will help you attain your life’s goal or mission. Marden’s books are a great place to start that journey but very few will take this free advice. Maybe that is the problem, when something is given freely, others put little value in the gift and that is truly sad and set a horrible example for their children.