An important meeting was being held for the leaders of India’s independence movement. Eminent persons like Gandhi, Nehru, Tilak, Azad and Patel were in attendance for chalking out the future strategy to throw out the British rule from the country. The meeting began, but Tilak could only come to the meeting five minutes late. Gandhiji stopped the proceedings, looked intently at Tilak and exclaimed: “If India’s independence from the British rule will be delayed by five minutes, Tilak will have to take the blame for it.”
Gandhiji was so keen on being punctual everywhere. He was always a man in a hurry. In contrast, some people, by nature, are always tardy for everything they attend. They procrastinate with things and as a consequence they can never meet a deadline or an appointment. This in turn can land them in trouble, as it affects their performance at every level – education, career, family, social life, etc. The one who is always late misses on the beginnings of things and events, which often are the best parts. There are many incidents of people missing trains and flights because of their compulsive nature of being late for everything. By being late, he is missing on opportunities for success.
It is said that the world today moves, not on hours and minutes, but on seconds and microseconds. Things keep changing in high speed. Payment for services are calculated by seconds, as for people today time is money and punctuality is the soul of business. Machinery and means of transport operate on the basis of perfect time schedule. The delay of even a fraction of a second can have disastrous consequences. Last year, an airplane was delayed by a fraction of a second to touch down on the ground and that caused a horrifying accident that killed nearly two hundred people.
The virtue of punctuality is both natural and acquired. It is said that some people can never get late for anything, anywhere. They have a natural tendency to be punctual, everywhere, at every event. They get restless when, even if not by their fault, they get delayed for something. However, even if it is not an inborn quality, one can acquire this virtue by practice, especially if we start at a young age. One who misses the deadlines and appointments everywhere is also likely to miss his final appointment with God when he comes calling him because it is said that God is always on time.
“I could never think well of a man's intellectual or moral character, if he was habitually unfaithful to his appointments.” (Nathanael Emmons).