“I have an engineering problem. While for the most part I’m in terrific physical shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and only a few months to live.
I am a father of three young children, and married to the woman of my dreams. While I could easily feel sorry for myself, that wouldn’t do them, or me, any good.
So, how to spend my very limited time?
The obvious part is being with, and taking care of, my family. While I still can, I embrace every moment with them, and do the logistical things necessary to ease their path into a life without me.
The less obvious part is how to teach my children what I would have taught them over the next twenty years. They are too young now to have these conversations. All parents want to teach their children right from wrong, what we think is important, and how to deal with the challenges life will bring. We also want them to know some stories from our own lives, often as a way to teach them how to lead theirs. My desire to do that led me to give a ‘last lecture’ at Carnegie Mellon University.
These lectures are routinely videotaped. I knew what I was doing that day. Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer, so I lectured.
I lectured about the joy of life, about how much I appreciated life, even with so little of my own left. I talked about honesty, integrity, gratitude, and other things I hold dear. And I tried very hard not to be boring. This book is a way for me to continue what I began on stage.”
~ Randy Pausch from The Last Lecture
Have you seen Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” YouTube video?
Over 20 million people have and, if you’re one of them, you know just how magnetically inspiring Randy is.
If you *haven’t* seen the video yet and don’t know who Randy Pausch is, here’s the short story...
Randy was a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When it became terminal, he gave his “last lecture.” The talk was recorded. It went viral. He wrote this book with Jeffrey Zaslow as a follow-up to that talk.
The book features fifty-three micro chapters—each telling a different story from Randy’s life. It’s packed with wisdom and I’m excited to share some of my favorite Big Ideas so let’s jump straight in!
btw: Randy kind of reminds me of a mix of NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield (check out our Notes on An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth), former Notre Dame philosophy professor Tom Morris (check out our Notes on True Success, The Stoic Art of Living, Plato’s Lemonade Stand and more...), Stanford Professor of Engineering Bernard Roth (check out our Notes on The Achievement Habit) and Mister Rogers (check out our Notes on The World According to Mister Rogers, Many Ways to Say I Love You, and You Are Special).
And, the fact that this book was based on a talk that went viral reminds me of Admiral William McRaven and his book Make Your Bed.
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