Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch - A TRUE Inspiration

You may not be familiar with the name Randy Pausch. If that's the case, you've likely been living in a cave or trapped at sea for the past year. But Professor Pausch passed away today from pancreatic cancer. He is a true inspiration to me, and I will never forget some of the things I learned while watching him give his last lecture.

Pausch was a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he taught computer science and human-computer interaction and design. In September 2007 Randy gave his "last lecture" to his students and peers. This was an odd lecture, because everyone knew that it would truly be his LAST lecture. The cancer was terminal, and Pausch was dying.

The title of his lecture was "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams." Before he even began speaking, the audience applauded and rose to its feet. Pausch humored them briefly, then motioned for them to sit down, saying "make me earn it." He began his lecture with a quote from his father to the effect of "if there is an elephant in the room, introduce him." He talked about his cancer, his current state, his condition. But the meat of his last lecture was about living your dreams formed at childhood. He referenced his own childhood and how he was always smiling in his pictures.

I took one specific story particularly to heart. Let your kids paint their own rooms. He, and his parents, encouraged their kids to express their creativity, and channel their art to the walls of their rooms. Too many families are so interested in having a neat, orderly, PLAIN home. Give your kids a brush and some paint, let them choose the colors, and help them paint their rooms. This idea instantly stuck with me. While I want to afford my kids all the opportunities in life, and I fully plan to suggest and steer them places, I sincerely hope they will develop their OWN ideas and passions. Karate? Fine. Bagpipes? Great. Dance? Hang on now... I very much hope to have the strength to allow my kids to follow their dreams. And paint their walls.

There was one particular quote from Randy's lecture that I found amazingly profound:

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people!" — from The Last Lecture

This is a selfish world. Brett Favre, one of my heroes, is willing to throw the entire NFL and his family into a tailspin because he just can't give up a game. you have any idea what Randy Pausch would have given up to spend more time with his family? Take a lesson from Professor Pausch's lecture and start making memories with your family.

If you have not read The Last Lecture I highly recommend that you do. You can also view the video clips all over Youtube. And Pausch's book is a best seller.

Thank you Randy for showing ambitious young parents how to encourage their children to find their passions and chase their dreams, and for showing people of all ages that their OWN childhood dreams can be realized.

Randy's Obituary

Download the transcript

Watch the video...


Mandy said...


Sister said...

Thank you for the inspirational story. I would have never heard of him or his Last Lecture. What an amazing man.

WishTrish said...

Hi. I found your blog as I searched for references to "Lift Where You Stand" as I am teaching that talk in RS tomorrow. In your October post that mentioned it, you referenced this post and I followed the link. I just watched the full Last Lecture even though I had never heard of Randy Pausch before. Thank you! It was a fabulous talk, and I am grateful to have been exposed to it. Have a wonderful day!