Ralph Reed on Focusing on What’s Important Rather Than What’s Urgent
The founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition on burnout and dealing with email.
When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Ralph Reed: I get dressed and head downstairs to my home gym for my morning workout. If I don’t exercise in the morning, I find it difficult to schedule later in the day. It also gets my brain and body functioning to begin my day.
TG: What gives you energy?
RR: Adequate sleep, which for me is at least seven hours and preferably eight. Also reading, especially for pleasure. It allows me to think strategically rather than tactically.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
RR: Creating a to-do list in the morning to help me remain focused on what is truly important rather than what is simply urgent or pressing.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
RR: The Bible would be number one. I read three chapters in the Old Testament, two chapters in the New Testament, a chapter in Psalms and a chapter in Proverbs every day. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is the best book I have read in recent years, an inspiring true story of forgiveness and redemption overcoming evil and cruelty.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?RR: No. I am on my phone too much in the day, but I turn it off at night.
TG: How do you deal with email?
RR: I budget time at the beginning of the day and the end of the day to deal with it. Beyond those specified times, I am usually am in meetings, reading, or on the phone.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it
RR: Think, plan, perhaps take a walk.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
RR: After the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, on which I worked as a member of the campaign team. I was in 33 states and three foreign countries as a surrogate or operative. I found it very hard to pace myself or take time to slow down given the magnitude of the stakes. Campaigns have a clear beginning and end (barring a recount like 2000), so I tend to sprint for the entire marathon.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
RR: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you…and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28–29
Ralph Reed is chairman and CEO of Century Strategies, a public relations firm that has helped some of the world’s leading corporations. Reed is a veteran of ten presidential campaigns and over 80 statewide campaigns. He served as a senior advisor to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and served on the faith advisory board for Donald J. Trump in 2016.