#1441 The Elephant in the Room

Might as Well Name It

In our last +1, we talked about Randy Pausch and his touching Last Lecture YouTube video and companion book.

I challenged you to consider what YOU would want to share with YOUR kids if YOU only had weeks to live.


I issued a much bigger challenge as I asked you if you were living in integrity with that wisdom because, of course, our kids don’t LISTEN to what we say as much as they MODEL who we are and what we do.

As you know if you are blessed to be a parent, THAT is one of the most sobering facts of parenting.

Today I want to chat more about the wisdom from Randy’s Last Lecture.


As I say in the Notes…

I’ve gotta say that Randy reminds me of a blend 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.

To be clear: That’s high praise.


Today I want to chat about The Elephant in the Room.

Here’s how Randy puts it: “I thanked the audience for coming, cracked a few jokes, and then I said: ‘In case there’s anybody who wandered in and doesn’t know the back story, my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it. If you look at my CT scans, there are approximately ten tumors in my liver, and the doctors told me I have three to six months of good health left. That was a month ago, so you can do the math.’”

He tells us that he “flashed a giant image of the CT scans of my liver onto the screen. The slide was headlined ‘The Elephant in the Room,’ and I had helpfully inserted red arrows pointing to each of the individual tumors.

I let the slide linger, so the audience could follow the arrows and count my tumors. ‘All right,’ I said. ‘That is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.’”

Randy says he won the parent lottery.

His dad was literally a hero. He earned a medal for heroism in World War II and was so humble that he NEVER even told his son about it. He was also a witty and wise human.

As Randy playfully quips, his dad taught him that when there’s an elephant in the room, you should name it.

The elephant in the room with Randy and the hundreds of people there to hear his last lecture on “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”?

His late-stage pancreatic cancer.


He threw up that slide of his CT scan with helpful red arrows pointing to each of his ten tumors as he let them all know he had months to live.


Then, before giving his inspiring talk and modeling the very wisdom he was talking about, he channeled his inner, wise Stoic and reminded us that, although we can’t change the cards we’re dealt, we CAN decide how we’re going to play the hand.

Although he also made the point that his talk WAS NOT about cancer, I’m going to take a moment to talk about cancer.

As you may know, several years ago my brother was also diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer—which, as you may also know, is among the very worst cancer diagnoses you can get.

I immediately read (and created Notes on) ten of the leading books on the subject and did everything I could to help my brother and his family with YOU and YOUR family in mind as I did so.

I also created two classes on the subject: Conquering Cancer 101 and Conquering Cancer 102.

Although we lost my brother after a two-year battle, I have been told by many members of our community that these Notes and classes have been powerful aids for them on their journey through their own or a loved one’s cancer diagnosis and I hope you find the wisdom empowering and encouraging when/if you or your family go through a similar experience.

Check out our collection of Notes on: The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters, Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease - Book (and - Journal Article) by Thomas N. Seyfried, Radical Remission by Kelly A. Turner, Tripping over the Truth by Travis Christofferson, Keto for Cancer by Miriam Kalamian, Outside the Box Cancer Therapies by Mark Stengler and Paul Anderson, The Truth in Small Doses by Clifton Leaf, and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

That’s Today’s +1.

Generally speaking: Let’s make sure we have the Courage to name whatever elephant may be in the room. Ignoring reality is never a good strategy if we want to optimize it.


If you or someone you love is going through a battle with cancer, I am sending all my love.

Day 1. Memento Mori.


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