The Last Lecture

by buildingpharmabrands

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Randy Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008), professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University delivered the first of the university’s new lectures titled – Journeys on September 18, 2007. Journeys – lectures in which members of the university community share their reflections and insights on their personal and professional journeys.

Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: 3 to 6 months of good health left. And yet, he gave an upbeat lecture Journeys on September 18, just a few weeks after his terminal diagnosis. The title of his lecture, which he gave on September 18, 2007 was The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. 

He gave very valuable lessons in his Last Lecture, which every one of us can apply to achieve unbridled happiness in our lives:

  1. Give a feedback loop and listen to it. When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
  2. Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all my research team down to Disney World for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?
  3. Don’t complain. Just work harder. (Shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player) That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him.
  4. Be good at something, it makes you valuable.
  5. Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me, wow, you got tenure early. What’s your secret? I said, It’s pretty simple. Call me any Friday night in my office at ten o’ clock and I’ll tell you.
  6. Find the best in everybody. You  might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
  7. And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

So today’s talk was about my childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and some lessons learned. But did you figure the head fake (a sports term used when a player moves his head to fake a change in direction)?  It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It is about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

Have you figured the second head fake? The talk is not for you. It’s for my kids. Thank you all, good night.

Click the links below to download the full transcript of the Last Lecture and view the complete video of this inspiring Last Lecture.

The Last Lecture transcript

The Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University.