The Last Lecture
But engineering isn’t about perfect solutions; it’s about doing the best you can with limited resources
What makes me unique?” That was the question I felt compelled to address. Maybe
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?
An injured lion wants to know if he can still roar
Whatever my accomplishments, all of the things I loved were rooted in the dreams and goals I had as a child…and in the ways I had managed to fulfill almost all of them. My uniqueness, I realized, came in the specifics of all the dreams—from incredibly meaningful to decidedly quirky—that defined my forty-six years of life. Sitting there, I knew that despite the cancer, I truly believed I was a lucky man because I had lived out these dreams. And I had lived out my dreams, in great measure, because of things I was taught by all sorts of extraordinary people along the way. If I was able to tell my story with the passion I felt, my lecture might help others find a path to fulfilling their own dreams.
Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ ”
When the waitress brought our meals, I congratulated her on her pregnancy. “You must be overjoyed,” I said. “Not exactly,” she responded. “It was an accident.” As she walked away, I couldn’t help but be struck by her frankness. Her casual remark was a reminder about the accidental elements that play into both our arrival into life… and our departure into death
the logo on my short-sleeved polo shirt was an emblem of honor because it’s the one worn by Walt Disney Imagineers—the artists, writers and engineers who create theme-park fantasies
I was paying tribute to that life experience, and to Walt Disney himself, who famously had said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
If you have a question,” my folks would say, “then find the answer.”
stories should be told for a reason
When I was studying for my PhD, I took something called “the theory qualifier,” which I can now definitively say was the second worst thing in my life after chemotherapy. When I complained to my mother about how hard and awful the test was, she leaned over, patted me on the arm and said, “We know just how you feel, honey. And remember, when your father was your age, he was fighting the Germans.”
Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.
IT’S IMPORTANT to have specific dreams.
As an aside, there’s a lesson here: Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.
It just proves that if you can find an opening, you can probably find a way to float through it.
You’ve got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work
Self-esteem? He knew there was really only one way to teach kids how to develop it: You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process.
Shatner, was the ultimate example of a man who knew what he didn’t know, was perfectly willing to admit it, and didn’t want to leave until he understood
I don’t believe in the nowin scenario.”
The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something
Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
but you are not more interesting than lunch. Delegate
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
In fact, it’s better to stand when you’re on the phone
Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.
I always saw the value in that, sure. But in my mind, a better number one goal was this: I wanted to help students learn how to judge themselves.
When you use money to fight poverty, it can be of great value, but too often, you’re working at the margins. When you’re putting people on the moon, you’re inspiring all of us to achieve the maximum of human potential, which is how our greatest problems will eventually be solved.
TOO MANY people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.
My favorite non-complainer of all time may be Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball. He endured racism that many young people today couldn’t even fathom. He knew he had to play better than the white guys, and he knew he had to work harder. So that’s what he did. He vowed not to complain, even if fans spit on him.
I’VE FOUND that a substantial fraction of many people’s days is spent worrying about what others think of them. If nobody ever worried about what was in other people’s heads, we’d all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and on our jobs.
Phrase alternatives as questions: Instead of “I think we should do A, not B,” try “What if we did A, instead of B?” That allows people to offer comments rather than defend one choice.
My colleague told me: “It took a long time, but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.”
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. That comes from Seneca, the Roman philosopher who was born in 5 B.C. It’ll be worth repeating for another two thousand years, at least.
I love a lot of pop culture clichés, too. I don’t mind when my children watch Superman, not because he’s strong and can fly, but because he fights for “truth, justice and the American way.” I love that line.
I love the movie Rocky. I even love the theme music. And what I liked most about the original Rocky movie was that Rocky didn’t care if he won the fight that ends the film. He just didn’t want to get knocked out. That was his goal. During the most painful times of my treatment, Rocky was an inspiration because he reminded me: It’s not how hard you hit. It’s how hard you get hit …and keep moving forward.
The other students came to understand: “First Penguin” winners were losers who were definitely going somewhere. The title of the award came from the notion that when penguins are about to jump into water that might contain predators, well, somebody’s got to be the first penguin. I originally called it “The Best Failure Award,” but failure has so many negative connotations that students couldn’t get past the word itself.
EXPERIENCE IS what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
Start-up companies often prefer to hire a chief executive with a failed start-up in his or her background. The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.
Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.
think that thank-you notes are best done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.
I’ve told her this story, and now she tells it to others. Despite all that is now going on in my life and with my medical care, I still try to handwrite notes when it’s important to do so. It’s just the nice thing to do. And you never know what magic might happen after it arrives in someone’s mailbox.
lot of people want a shortcut. I find the best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: work hard.
As I see it, if you work more hours than somebody else, during those hours you learn more about your craft. That can make you more efficient, more able, even happier. Hard work is like compounded interest in the bank. The rewards build faster.
I’ve often told my students: “When you go into the wilderness, the only thing you can count on is what you take with you.” And essentially, the wilderness is anywhere but your home or office. So take money. Bring your repair kit. Imagine the wolves. Pack a lightbulb. Be prepared.
I’d start by describing the two classic bad apologies: 1) “I’m sorry you feel hurt by what I’ve done.” (This is an attempt at an emotional salve, but it’s obvious you don’t want to put any medicine in the wound.) 2) “I apologize for what I did, but you also need to apologize to me for what you’ve done.” (That’s not giving an apology. That’s asking for one.) Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I feel badly that I hurt you.
3) How do I make this better?
IF I could only give three words of advice, they would be “tell the truth.” If I got three more words, I’d add: “All the time.” My parents taught me that “you’re only as good as your word,” and there’s no better way to say it.
My advice has always been: “You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”
No job should be beneath us. And if you can’t (or won’t) sort mail, where is the proof that you can do anything?
Rights have to come from somewhere, and they come from the community. In return, all of us have a responsibility to the community. Some people call this the “communitarian” movement, but I call it common sense.
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and it can lead to all your dreams coming true.
Ask those questions. Just ask them. More often than you’d suspect, the answer you’ll get is, “Sure
paused. The room was quiet. “It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s 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.”
All Excerpts From
Pausch, Randy. “The Last Lecture.” Hyperion. iBooks.
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