Book Talk

Book Notes: The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch.

Natasha Musa 2 min read
Book Notes: The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch.

In September 2007, Professor Randy Pausch delivered a lecture titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

His lecture was modelled after a series in which professors were asked to give talks based on a hypothetical question, “If you knew you were going to die, and you had one last lecture to give, what would you say to your students?” But for Pausch, this was not hypothetical because he was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months prior. Pausch's lecture was delivered to a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon in 2007.

You can view the actual lecture below, which has had more than 20 million views.

Pausch was inspired to write The Last Lecture to pass on his experience to his children.

I read the Last Lecture in 2008. At that stage, I was exploring and reading several personal growth books, biographies and memoirs, but Paush’s book was probably one of the first I've read that profoundly impacted my view of life. The book is 206 pages short yet filled with powerful messages that take the reader through the journey of the author’s life and, more interestingly, Pausch’s personal lessons on achieving childhood dreams and living life to the fullest.

If you haven’t read this book, you might expect it to be about death, but it’s not; It’s about living life.

Despite knowing he had a short time left to live, Pausch's life approach was inspiring.

3 Powerful Quotes on How to Approach Life according to Randy Pausch.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

We face many challenges and obstacles in life, but how we respond to them matters. Recognise that we can change the outcome of the events simply by changing our response.

Pausch relates this card game metaphor to his cancer diagnosis, and like a bad hand of cards, the diagnosis sucks. Still, he focuses on turning it into something positive by deciding to live his best life and maintain an optimistic attitude with whatever time he has left.

“Time must be explicitly managed, like money. You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.
Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?
Develop a good filing system.
Rethink the telephone.
Take a time-out.
Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.”

We always think we have time, but we’ll never know when our time will be up. So it's imperative to manage our time better as it is our most valuable asset. Spend it wisely and make the best out of the time that we have.

“I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play.”

We need to take it one day at a time, be in the moment, enjoy and make the best of each day we have while we are alive.

One last quote that I want to share from Pausch is the lesson he learned from his coach, “educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective.” As an educator, Pausch has done his job. Because as a student of life, this book has given me cause to pause and reflect.

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