My wife, Jamie, and I were thrilled about our weekend getaway to Chicago a few weeks ago. We had everything planned out perfectly—a hotel room in the city, tickets to a Cubs baseball game, and dinner reservations at fantastic restaurants for Friday and Saturday nights. We even squeezed in some shopping. It seemed like the ideal plan.
On Friday night, I reviewed the Cubs’ tickets multiple times, ensuring I had the game start time for Saturday locked in my mind. I calculated the walking distance from our hotel to the train station and estimated the duration of the train ride to the stadium. I had it all figured out down to the minute.
We set off at 12:30 pm the next day to catch the 1:20 pm game. It was a short eight-minute walk from the hotel to the metro station, followed by a few minutes on the platform. About 40 minutes later, we stepped off the train and walked the final block to the stadium. As we approached the entrance gate, the crowd was excited as the announcer’s voice boomed through the stadium speakers, reading the lineups. We eagerly joined the line, ready to get inside and enjoy the game.
When the attendant scanned the ticket on my phone, an unpleasant buzz filled the air instead of the familiar sound of validation. He tried again, but the buzz persisted. It turned out that the ticket on my phone was for Sunday, not Saturday. We were a full 24 hours off. It was a disappointing realization.
However, this unexpected turn of events made me reflect on the idea of being on the right track or path at the wrong time. We had followed the Red Line route perfectly, and our walk to the station was spot on, but our timing was off. This realization struck a chord, as it mirrored situations we often encounter in our work and careers.
You may attempt to launch a business but struggle to gain the desired traction. Maybe the timing just isn’t right. Or, you have a brilliant project idea you’re eager to present to your boss, only to be met with a “no” because the timing isn’t favorable. It’s crucial to recognize that sometimes, even when we’re on the right path, the timing might be off.
The next day, we decided to repeat our Saturday plan. We retraced our steps, walking the same path to the train station and taking the Red Line down the same track to the game. This time, we were on the right track at the right time. Despite the Cubs losing, we still had a fantastic time.
In addition to witnessing my wife Jamie’s incredible kindness toward me and my poor timing, this experience reinforced a valuable lesson about the role of timing in our journey. It’s important to acknowledge that success may require patience and a keen understanding of the right moment, even when we’re on the right track. Timing can make all the difference in our work and careers.
So, as you navigate your professional endeavors, remember to assess the timing of your actions. Stay on the right path, but be mindful of the right time. With patience, persistence, and the ability to seize the opportune moment, you’ll increase your chances of achieving success and reaching your goals.
- Can you think of a time in your professional or personal life when you were on the right path, but the timing wasn’t favorable? How did you handle it?
- How do you typically assess the timing of your actions? Do you have a process for evaluating when to move forward and when to wait?
- What strategies can you implement to ensure you’re making the most of the moments in which timing is in your favor?
As you make decisions today, stop and consider whether the timing is right for your desired outcome.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.