The Real Reason People Are Late (To Class, To Work, and To Events)

Are you a perpetually late person?

Maybe you have every intention to make it early to something, but end up waiting until the last minute to leave. Thus, surrendering yourself to the volatility of traffic, forgotten keys, and last-minute poops (LMP).

And every single time we're late for something, we think "Oh okay, I learned my lesson, but next time, I'm going to be there early."

What happens after?

"ZzzzzZzz..." Crap. Late again.

Teachers say that tardiness and absences are signs of "falling off the track" and signify behavior that will lead to a student failing at life.

"If you can't show up to class on time, then how ON EARTH can you expect to show up to work on time?"

School officials always use this comparison when trying to determine the character of a student. "Well, they don't show up on time, follow rigid rules, or listen to my authority, so they must be a bad kid. Let's place them in lower level courses and make them feel intellectually inferior."

But is there really a correlation between being late to class and being a bad employee?

I'd argue no. The motives are completely different.

With one thing, you have the mindset that "I've already paid for this, it doesn't matter whether I actually consume the content or not"; the other mindset is, "I need to go or else I don't get to eat."

When we get the thought that the class we're going to is not going to help us get ahead in life or the world doesn't change if we miss one class, it becomes very easy to just think about the alternatives we could be doing instead of class.

We start thinking about the opportunity cost.

What is more important to me, right now at this time?

Is it 5 more minutes of sleep?

Is it 5 minutes of listening to someone lecture me?

Or is it editing my travel video, writing a new song, or creating some art?

We choose to delay our focus because we realize how much more impactful other actions we take can be. If there is a clear benefit to something, we'll attend anything easily.

For example, I hated attending my Intro to Accounting class. I was mildly late every time. However if there is a seminar or speaker who I've read and really loved, I will wake up 2 hours earlier, prepare some questions, and bring a pen and pad to write notes because I see the value in it.

However, when there is uncertainty of arriving a little bit earlier your inner psyche tends to block your desire to show up early:

  • what if it's a waste of time?
  • I don't get along with the people here, so why should I?
  • I don't even want to go because I don't learn anything important

There isn't a resounding reason to go because there is no direct benefit or opening of our mind.

But when the value is ever so present, it becomes effortless to attend events on time.

Think about that time you woke up really early for something because you just couldn't wait for what was in store for you. This may have been an early flight to Europe. And for some people, it was that awesome professor or speaker that you absolutely needed to hear.

Let's assume the correlation of tardiness and work ethic is false.

Maybe the kids shouldn't be judged for their tardiness.

Maybe instead, the teachers and the schools should be judged for their value.