If you are not on time, you do not exist. During the earliest days of my internship at Hannum’s Harley-Davidson I learned my most valuable lesson. One morning I found myself with the rare opportunity to spend a few minutes talking with one of the company’s Executive Managers of Operations. Really cool guy and gracious of him to lend me some of his valuable time between meetings to have a conversation, and briefly share with me his wealth of industry knowledge and insight. We talked about the shop. We talked about Harley-Davidson’s new fore into the EV and Dual-Sport Adventure Touring markets with new product development in the LiveWire and Panamerica, respectively. We talked about HD’s position in the market and its efforts to expand the reach of the brand to younger demographics. All good stuff and important to note, this is not a person who had any direct involvement with my day-to-day tasks working as an intern in Business Development and Marketing. Regardless, I capitalized on the chance to pick the brain of a person, who has cultivated a successful career.

Once our time was up, he welcomed me to the team, wished me luck, and in response to my questions about advancement and making the most of my time with the company, he left me with this profound piece of advice: If you are not on time, you do not exist. These words stuck with me for different reasons. On its surface, the immediate message is simple: don’t be late for work. If you were ever curious as to the why- then your interpretation of this trope reaches deeper into your psyche and makes a profound statement about your reliability and character; the way you conduct yourself professionally and the ultimate perception you create for yourself in the minds of your co-workers and superiors.

When you are punctual for work you make yourself available in the minds of people. You are in consideration as an option because of your ability to check the box of being serious and accountable. The reframing of a familiar concept from a new source can have a powerful impact. Hearing the right message at the right time can also have a similar effect. Furthermore, it was interesting to me that an upper-level executive whose job responsibilities require a “macro” focus made it a point to emphasize the critical nature of a fundamental basic for success in the workplace. In ten words the statement eloquently summarizes the only thing that really matters in the workplace and that is showing up on time. Once you show up on time, then you can “show up” and make positive contributions to the team.