Dialogue with: Reagan Pugh, Texas State University Alum.
Reagan Pugh sits down with our own Chelsea McDonald to discuss the merits of self-reflection, leadership, and what makes you come alive.
By Chelsea McDonald, Texas State University
“It’s a great day to be a Bobcat.” A phrase ingrained in every Texas State student from the moment they visit the campus. This was not always the mantra of Texas State, it took one unique, brilliant, but extremely humble individual to find a saying that encompasses’ students time at this university as an experience, not an obligation, a phrase that resonates pride and prestige in the Texas Hill Country. Graduating from Texas State University in 2008, Reagan Pugh received a Bachelors of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in Political Science. During his time at Texas State, Pugh was elected student body president where he coined this phrase during his campaign. Little did he know, this would be the tip of the iceberg of his influence on his alma mater.
I had the pleasure of meeting Pugh after his presentation to my student leadership organization, University Ambassadors, at our fall retreat. He had a warm, but commanding presence. Straying from the typical, ‘please state your name, major, and home town’ introduction, he instead asked use to share what makes us come alive. His presentation was a breath of fresh air after a long weekend. He challenged us to examine our dreams, long-term goals, and daily lives in order to evaluate how we as individuals were incorporating the things that made us come alive in all of our endeavors. His presentation humbled, inspired, empowered and challenged us as human beings.
A day in the life of Reagan Pugh
After graduation, Pugh took some time to self-assess and contemplate what makes him come alive. He determined his passion lies in helping people deal with life’s big questions through creative language, whether spoken or written.
Pugh now works full time as a raconteur for Kalypso, an innovation-consulting firm that specializes in helping Fortune 100 companies improve the way they produce their products. For the past four years, Pugh has also worked as a facilitator for Stelos Alliance, a non-profit that provides a leadership development course called the Housley Principled Leadership Program. The program was developed in memory of the organization’s influencer, and through this program, Stelos Alliance developed a course that reflected the meaning and purpose the late Housley encompassed.
“The course is not offered for credit. Students get no grade. We have over one hundred students applying for thirty-five spots and they show up on a Friday morning. It is pretty remarkable. The best day of my week is on Friday’s when I teach this class at Texas State. We have 35 of the best students that join us for four hours to really dig into their personal development and ask hard questions. That is a hell of a way to end a week.”
Do you have any advice for young students or recent graduates?
“We can always be students outside of the classroom. The funny thing is, people already know all of the things that make them come alive and they already know all of the things that frustrate them. We already have everything we need inside of us. It is a matter of being aware enough. I think with enough introspection, anyone can stop and go ‘yeah you know what? This one feeling that I have about this one idea, has been echoing throughout my consciousness for as long as I can remember. There has got to be something to that and I should probably invest a little time in understanding more about that.”
What is one failure you have experienced and how did you overcome it?
Pugh wanted to start a literary journal for Kalypso, but failed when it came down to producing content and seeing the project through.
“I lost courage in the idea and I abandoned it for something that was easier and had a more defined outcome…I gave up on it because I didn’t know if anyone else would find it valuable and I gave up in my ability to make it come alive.
How would you advise others to overcome self-doubt?
“If you come to a cross roads and you feel like you are battling self doubt, fear, or resistance, especially at a young age coming right out of college, the answer is to do the thing that scares you. That is the right thing.”
What keeps you motivated?
“If you choose to do things that are new, uncomfortable, and dangerous for the first time we can slow down the span of our lives.”
“What gets me out of bed in the morning is this opportunity to live a story-rich life by choosing to do things that are uncomfortable and new. I believe that experiences are greater than things and I believe that the quality of life is measured by the quality of relationships and if you can mesh those two together and travel the world and do something that makes you come alive, I don’t think that it gets much better than that.”
Pugh continues to use the lessons he teaches his students by engaging in self-reflection and setting challenging goals for himself. In the future, he would like to pursue community theater and expand his knowledge of academia through the expansion of Housley to multiple universities.