By Allen Levin
When I was growing up my father was constantly late. It drove me insane. I remember multiple times waiting for him to pick me up where for over 3 hours I’d watch each car hoping it was him. He’s still late. He doesn’t understand that being on time is important. Until recently I’ve also had to rush to get to places on time. I’ve had anxiety in traffic. I’ve allowed myself to leave later than I meant. I’ve even taken risks while driving to “make good time.
This year all of that changed. I haven’t been late this whole year! January 1st I committed to myself that I’ll attempt to arrive 30 minutes early for work every single time I teach. It’s October 12th. I have yet to be “late.” I’ve been late for my 30 minutes early. That’s the point. Those 30 minutes give me additional time in case the unexpected (like a traffic stop) happens. I’ve have yet to be late to teach as my 30 minutes gives me more than enough of a buffer so that I’m not late to work.
Today I arrived at 10:17 am to teach a 10:30 class. That’s as close as I’ve been to being late all year. I felt excited. I got caught up in a conversation before leaving. I left about 10 minutes later than I meant to leave. Traffic was bad. Still I was on time! This is the first time I can remember being excited about my new policy. A year of not being anxious and stressing to get places on time. I’m converting as of now! I’m committing to this policy long term.
Why (particularly on the way to auditions) would we want to give ourselves unnecessary stress that could prevent us from booking the job? So many of our peers arrive that way. Let’s set ourselves apart by being relaxed. Being early is an amazing change of pace. I feel younger…. and lately I’ve had some pretty surprising comments from people that think I’m in my 20’s! I’m in my 40’s. I believe I’m appearing younger because I’m so much more relaxed.
Give this a try: For the next week attempt to be everywhere you need to be 30 minutes early. This is out of your car and ready to go 30 minutes before the meeting. You can take a walk. Grab a snack. Use the time however you like, but be there and ready to go. Have secured parking (if you drove) and be out of your car 30 minutes before your time. See if you can do this for a week. If you are less than 30 minutes early, you’ll see how good it feels to still be early. You aren’t late. The only person who will know you are later than you meant to be is you! How awesome is that? See if you like the results. I predict you will.
Being on time absolutely matters. Being accountable to your commitment matters. We are creating acting careers that are built on first impressions. Your first impression absolutely must be that of an artist who arrives on time. You can be counted on to be where you say you’ll be (when you say you’ll be there).
Most people you meet (particularly industry pros) will remember how you made them feel. If you are late they won’t feel positively towards you. If you are early or on time (Don’t go in too early. Be early so that you can walk in right on time or 5 mins early at the most. You don’t want to be an added responsibility that they don’t have time to deal with, before your meeting) they won’t remember you with a negative feeling, at least in terms of your being prompt. Promptness isn’t something we mention often, but it’s worth a full blog entry. Get it into your head: always be on time. Be early so that you are sure you can be on time.
LA Traffic still doesn’t get in my way. I feel happy when I’m in it! Imagine that! I’m not saying “Fuck you, cars!! Get the hell out of my way!” I’m just finding a radio station I like and I’m enjoying the sunshine. I know I won’t be late. If you live farther away, perhaps attempt to be places 45 minutes or an hour early. This one controllable factor will ultimately help you get more work. You’ll be closer with your friends and work relationships. Don’t keep people waiting.
Other people will be late. Forgive them. Bring a book. Bring a “smart” phone (book is way better). Bring something to occupy your mind so that you aren’t upset when they arrive. You are never late. You can be understanding when others haven’t adapted your new strategy. People will call you and direct book you when they lose an actor because they know they can count on you. Build a reputation on being a marine when it comes time to be anywhere. I’m excited about my new identity. I don’t show up late (anymore).
Onward and UP.