I once heard a conference speaker tell the story about a certain "Jane" who came to him for counseling. Jane arrived for her first counseling appointment forty-five minutes late and in a fluster. After promising to do better, she arrived just as late the second time. And the third time. And on and on. Jane didn't mean to be late, just as she didn't mean for her whole life to feel like an undisciplined failure. She had every intention of being on time and even planned carefully to do so. But something would always come up. She'd stop to pray for someone or pull over to run an errand or say yes to a new request. Jane lives a priority-less life. Whatever was right in front of her became her new number-one priority. The speaker called her a wonderful woman you'd never want to hire.

It's taken me a while to see this, but now I do. And I absolutely believe it: I can't serve others effectively without setting priorities. If I respond to every e-mail, show ...

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