Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was asked to give a lecture to a general audience. Pausch had recently learned that he had terminal cancer and so this lecture was an opportunity for him to reflect deeply on what matters in life. The inspirational, hour-long lecture can be viewed online. This book expands on what he said in that lecture.

He is a man with a great deal of vitality as well as common sense. The wisdom he offers is useful stuff: how to go forward when you hit a brick wall; how to work well in teams; how to be self-reflective and honest with yourself; how to realize your dreams.

Before I learned to accept it about myself, I used to despair over my own earnestness, so I cheered when I read: "I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every time, because hip is short-term. Earnest is long-term. Earnestness is highly underestimated. It comes from the core, while hip is trying to impress you with the surface."

Pausch admits that he was a jerk when he was a young man. When warranted, he gives his students the kind of advice he was given that helped shape him into a better person. "I know you're smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn't enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone else feel happy to be here." Hooray to that as well.

"I came to a realization very early in my life. As I see it, there's a decision we all have to make, and it seems perfectly captured in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters created by A.A. Milne. Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore? Pick a camp." Pausch is clearly a Tigger, showing us how to grab life by the tail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the comment aobut ernestness since I, too, am the ernest sort. I've heard the lecture but not read the book so was very happy to read your review, Lindy. Keep 'em coming!