Last week I told you the story about my insensitivity in telling a story about being late to a woman who was late for unavoidable purposes. I had feared she might have taken it wrong and that wasn’t my intention. After I emailed her about my concerns – she sent me this story.
“I recently met with a networking contact, an established leader. I was right on time, and he was there waiting for me. I casually asked what time he had gotten there and it was 30 minutes earlier. He went on to say that earlier in his career he had met regularly with an established leader, and every time he arrived, that person was already there. He would come earlier and earlier, but could not beat this other person to the meeting place. He finally asked, and that person said that he would never be beaten. It was his way of showing respect. I thought that was such a picture of a leader with humility, besides all the practical reasons for being early rather than late.”
I love her story – and being early does indeed embody humility. We put ourselves second in order to make sure we honor the person we are with when we arrive early. If we can do it for an airplane, how much more should we do it for someone we either want to develop a relationship with or someone we already have a relationship with. It’s all about integrity.