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The Last Lecture

If you haven’t seen it, there’s this talk that’s been uploaded onto the internet for a while now that I highly recommend. It’s called The Last Lecture and it’s by Prof Randy Pausch. He talked at Carnegie Mellon University for a series called Journeys (previously called The Last Lecture series) and it basically provided professors to speak about personal experiences and lessons learned that they can impart on the students and brains of the future.

Randy was scheduled to present his talk in September of 2007. But that August, he was diagonised a second time with pancreatic cancer and that he should expect to only have three to six months of good health left. Despite this news, Randy prepared and presented his Last Lecture during his scheduled slot. His main reason for doing so was simply to have a recorded memory of his best advice so that his kids (at that point his oldest child was aged 6) could see their dad in his best element.

His amazing story comes with many lessons that we can take away into our every day lives. He tells this story about how he wanted to take this job outside of the university that was quite difficult for him to obtain. And the lesson was that there are always brick walls in life. Brick walls are there to show yourself how truly bad you want something; it’s to filter out those who aren’t as passionate. How amazing! How many times have I looked at a daunting task and turned the other way because I felt my efforts would get me nowhere? How fantastic it is to have this lesson retaught to us – I know I forget this sort of thing in every day life.

Randy also wrote a book before he passed away in July of 2008. The book is also entitled The Last Lecture, and I’m only half-way through reading it but I love it. The day the doctor told him that his time left was less than a year, he and his wife cried in the doctor’s office. After all the discussions, they left together and Randy thought about what he had told his wife just before going into the appointment:

“Even if the scan results are bad tomorrow, I just want you to know that it feels great to be alive, and to be here today, alive with you. Whatever news we get about the scans, I’m not going to die when we hear it. I won’t die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I’m enjoying it.”

I want this to be how I live my life, every day. And while I work towards this, I will also look to finding a brick wall I feel is worth it for me to climb over.

Please watch the lecture if you haven’t already.

One Response to “The Last Lecture”

  1. May 26th, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Elaine says:

    I’ve also seen this lecture (or at least listened to it at work) and found it incredibly inspiring. Perhaps I should listen to it again as my career is pretty uninspiring at the moment :)

    Hope you find that brick wall that’s worth climbing over. Or try anyway, sometimes you don’t want something that much until you actually go for it.

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