There'sa lot more to punctuality than just a few wasted minutes; it's amatter of self-esteem, respect and image. You communicate a lot by how youvalue your time and the time of others. Valuing time management is acharacteristic of only the top people in our society. If you don't have thiscontrol over your own schedule, you communicate to others that you aren't one of these top people.

But just being on time isn't enough. When it comes to punctuality I have a saying:

On time is the new late.

You can't just depend on being on time anymore--you've got to be a couple of minutes earlyevery session. When your client, over the course of time, realizes that you'realways early, that you're always there waiting and your serious about theirsession, they'll be more serious about the training themselves. They'll talkabout you with others in a positive way, which is exactly the kind of effectyou want.

So, if ontime is the new late, what is late? Well, being late reflects that you're notserious about what you do. It creates a tremendous negative impression if aclient who is not motivated about working out and has hired you to motivatethem sees that even you're not motivated about the training session.

If you'reconstantly late, you need to ask yourself why. When I started out as a personaltrainer, I was always exactly five minutes late to every training session. Icouldn't explain it, but it was always five minutes, no matter when the sessionstarted. As I've moved on in my career and have begun dealing with employees,I've seen the same phenomenon and have begun to understand it: your punctuality is a reflection of your own self-esteem.If you don't really believe in yourself, don't believe in what you do, and yourlife is a raving mess, then no matter how hard you try, you can never manage toget yourself anywhere on time. You subconsciously make yourself late everywhereyou go on purpose--a form of sub-communication.

Have you every known asloppy person that doesn't really believe in themselves? There's alwayssomething wrong with them, like a stain on their shirt, or it's wrinkled andfitting poorly. It doesn't even matter if this person somehow earns a lot ofmoney and can afford to do better; they just don't. What they're doing issub-communicating their self-esteem to you. It's a completely subconsciousprocess that tells the world what they think of themselves.

It'sexactly the same with punctuality. That's why you'll hear some employers willimmediately get rid of someone who shows up late to an interview; they won'teven bother to see them. You might ask yourself, why are they being sodifficult? The person might have been a good candidate, but they were just alittle late. The reason is that the employer has found, through experience,that lateness is a sign of an even bigger problem. They probably learned thatlesson the hard way, and so they choose to make this judgment call from thevery first impression. You also hear about this with girls when dating; they'lldismiss a guy for some strange reason, like his shirt was too big or he had abad haircut. From experience too, they've found that we communicate a lot throughthese non-verbal criteria.

In mycase, I found that once I got better at this profession and had more success, Icouldn't even imagine being late to a session; I couldn't fathom making anegative impression about the services that I worked so hard to build andbelieved in so much. The most important point is that this works both ways: Ifyou want to improve your self-esteem and the quality of what you do, justimprove your punctuality. It will force the quality of what you do to getbetter. This is called backwards engineering, and it's remarkable to watch ithappen yourself.

When Iwas running my training studio, I'd often have as many as six clients startingtheir sessions every hour. Even though I had assistants, it was difficult toserve this many people, and if I wasn't careful, a few minutes might slip offof every session. But I refused to let this happen. I would grit my teeth anddo whatever I could to make sure that every session started precisely on time.And I made sure my employees understood the importance of this as well.

Eventhough you may be busy, in the mind of your client, they're the most important person.Although they might not show it, they're watching every minute on the clock,waiting for this high-priced session they've pre-paid for with an alleged topprofessional to begin. They're not sympathetic to your problems or difficultiesbecause they know that if you're on top of your game, you'll find a way to beon time. Remember that.