Higher Ed: I'm Content. And Comfortable. And Don't Want To Change. Learn How To Do It Anyway.

Oct 6, 2019

"The only thing constant is change."

That saying, or some derivation of it, is attributed to the ancience Greek philosopher Heraclitus around 500 BC. But it certainly rings as true now as it did then.

In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss preparing students to handle life's big changes.

Earlier this fall, Ed announced that in January of 2020 he will leave his position as President of Southwestern and become President and Chief Executive Officer of the St. David's Foundation in Austin, Texas. After spending decades in academia, this move represents a big change for Ed.

So, why did he do it?

Ed says his long career in academia was actually one of the factors that propelled him to step into a different arena.

"We should not let our gifts and talents confine us to how we define ourselves and our future," Ed believes. "If there is something more that we want to do, I don't think we should use the fact that we are successful at something we're currently doing as an impediment to not go off; trail blaze; take the risk; effectively fail; and do something else."

Ed says much of what he has learned going through this process is applicable to students or anyone in a process of learning and discerning.

"How do you open your mind to looking at a future version of yourself that is a dramatic departure from where you are?"

Ed believes that question lies at the heart of launching into a big change. He says several steps are necessary to take a major, new step:

* "Your first have to overcome that inertia that says 'things are ok now, ... or things are great now, so let's not mess up the apple cart.'"

* "[Don't] be afraid of the emotional responses you will have to even consider such a move or such a change because they are real. And you have to balance all of that."

* "One needs to create the space in one's psyche to embrace this notion of change."

* "There's a mourning process. We need to give ourselves the space for us to mourn the loss of the bonds, the friendships, the community that we will be leaving. And then begin to imagine and be excited by a future community and a future life that will come next."

Listen to the entire episode to hear more about contemplating, navigating and executing a big life change.

Ed promised the newest puzzler would be tougher than recent ones. He did not change his mind about that; be ready for a tough one this week.

This episode was recorded on Sept. 25, 2019.

For all the Higher Ed episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.