Archive for April 10th, 2008

Yesterday, April 9, I read about Randy Pausch and his “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University (yes, sometimes I feel like I live under a rock). But, thankfully, I read the New York Times and journalist/reporter Tara Parker Pope’s article about Mr. Pausch, which drew me in. I was hooked on his concept of living life fully based on the dreams we established for ourselves as children.

Then, last night on ABC Television, the network aired a story in which Diane Sawyer interviewed Mr. Pausch and discussed his mind set behind not only the development and delivery of his Last Lecture, but about his thought process on how he lives joyfully each and every day – even at a time when he knows he’s going to die.

Let’s face it, we’re all dying. But Pausch learned he had pancreatic cancer in the Fall of 2007 and was told he only had three to six months to live. That was the impetus for his “last lecture” at Carnegie. If you haven’t seen the clips on YouTube or read the transcript, do it; do it now. It’s not morose. It’s not “oh, woe is me. I’m dying and I’m only 46 years old…life’s not fair.” In fact, it is quite the opposite.

From his childhood dreams, Pausch conveys the importance of living and living well. Developing friendships and nurturing them, challenging those around him to be their best, to take risks. As a professor, Pausch taught and mentored thousands of students. Through his work he touched the lives of thousands of people and what resonates so clearly for me in reading the lecture and hearing his story is that each person he has touched remembers and has somehow reflected back on him in countless ways. There are few people on the planet who have that kind of impact on others.

I’ll paraphrase a great deal here, but from the transcript of his lecture, Pausch believes that, in life, we all must strive to:

1) Bring something to the table

2) Accept criticism, because it means someone still cares.

3) Realize that experience is something you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

4) Get through the brick walls. Brick walls are in place to keep out the others who don’t want it as badly as you do.

5) Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you. No matter how angry you might be at someone, give it time.

There’s more to the story beyond my few hundred words here. In fact, there’s so much to Pausch’s Last Lecture that he’s written a book about it…a book I plan to buy today – several copies in fact, so I can share it with friends and family.

Most importantly, the Last Lecture, as Pausch so adeptly states, isn’t for the masses. It was for his three children. But through it, his story and philosophies on living have already touched the lives of millions.



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