A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. But the lecture he gave–"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
Here are some of the author’s suggestions, quotes and rules-to-live-by:
- Don’t complain, just work harder.
- Treat the disease, not the symptom.
- Don’t obsess over what people think.
- Check egos at the door.
- Praise each other.
- Look for the best in everybody.
- Watch what they do, not what they say.
- Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
- Loyalty is a two-way street.
- Tell the truth.
- Never give up.