Late always sucks

“Better late than never, but never late is better…” -Drake

This weekend, I had the pleasure of reporting to a customer that we were two days ahead of schedule and that we could launch early. They were thrilled at the news and I beamed when typing the message, irrespective of the response I anticipated.

I made a promise, kept it, and was ready to ship. Rah.

This isn’t the way every project goes, unfortunately. In one of my many roles (I know, I know…you have no idea what I do for a living. Join the club.), I implement technology solutions involving the software used to host websites.

On a good day, the only emails I get are from people wanting to throw money at me and telling me what a great job I did. Since I retired from exotic dancing, however, these “good days” are a rarity.

Instead, I often put out fires.

These vary in severity and frequency, but they always come. It’s just the nature of the beast. Because of this, how fast I get through my tasks changes…every day. Things typically blow up all at once, everywhere, so business hours during weekdays can get pretty exciting.

And by exciting, I mean an entire day can pass without me making meaningful progress on my important tasks. This is why it’s 10:30pm as I write this and I’m about to “go to work” 🙂

The point is, deadlines sometimes slip. It’s awful, I hate it, it’s preventable, and it still happens. I know. Don’t look at me like that.

Customers are generally gracious and understanding (most just want to be kept in the loop, few have deadlines that will end the world if missed) if you communicate properly, and for this I’m grateful.

But it’s still never fun to deliver a project late. It reflects poorly on me as a professional trying to build a reputation, reflects poorly on the mastery of my craft (if I were better at what I do, some fires would never happen), and reflects poorly on those who put their name on the line for me to be in the position I’m in.

Even if the deadline doesn’t matter and a final deliverable is received with a standing ovation, it still feels like I’m saying “Alright, here’s your broken promise — think of me next time you want to be disappointed!”

The best late can be is still late.

But shipping early is like delivering magic with a bow on it — few things compare.

More magic, coming right up.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.