Good Habits #13: Be Conscientious and Timely

By | July 19, 2015

[July 19, 2015]  I’ve been very fortunate during my lifetime to have had many people around me that gave good advice and lucky for me I actually paid attention and followed their guidance … sometimes. Imagine if you will for just a moment an Army Drill Sergeant screaming in your face, “Private, you don’t do your job, you’re late, and now you’re ass is on extra duty in the mess kitchen for a month.” Being conscientious and timely are good habits to possess. 

Some would call this social event with the Drill Sergeant a “motivating experience.” To me it meant more than that; but I guess you have to be there to appreciate the up-close personal interaction to fully understand. Actually I had a good excuse for being late and not doing my job that day but excuses didn’t rate very high on the defense scale so I kept my mouth shut (something that can be very rewarding in situations like this).

“Conscientiousness and timeliness are invaluable habits and character traits. As I tell my law clerks, I want my work done right and I want it on time. No matter what you do, do it right and do it on time.” – Justice Clarence Thomas

More often than not the advice given to me was helpful in both my academic endeavors and in my military career. Occasionally someone would publish a list of army rules that made things better for the Infantryman’s survival chances. For example, “Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.” While this was intended to be humorous it did contain an element of truth (see link for full list); like volunteering to be the point man on a patrol can be unusually hazardous to your health.

Being conscientious (doing a good job without others telling you to do it) and timely (being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there) would appear to be self-evident for leaders. Strike that assumption from your mind because leaders are just as likely to fail at their jobs and be late to work just as much as the next person (or army Private). For those that do possess these good habits, expect good things to come your way.

I paid attention to the Drill Sergeant screaming at me. Most people don’t need that extra social discourse to understand the importance of conscientiousness and timeliness. It should be a habit for life. Now that I’m retired from the military, I sometimes drive my wife crazy with these habits, which she then counsels me that it’s time to slow down.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.