One of the greatest books I have ever read is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. He was a professor at Carnegie- Mellon and is asked to give his last lecture of the semester, simultaneously, it would be the last one of his life. Randy was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had a few months to live. He would be leaving behind a wife and 3 young children: two sons ages 5 & 2 and a one-year-old daughter. My heart absolutely melted and I fell to tears as this man shared his final attempt to leave behind the lessons he will never be able to teach his children. He wanted to teach his sons how to be good men and husbands, his daughter how to mature into a strong caring woman and most of all he wanted to teach his children how to fulfill the dreams, he would not be able to help come true. Instead of giving his lecture about dying, he lectured on living: how to live a happy and filling life. He spoke about enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment, and the importance of overcoming obstacles.
1. “The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
We all have brick walls: insecurities, tempers, immaturity, bad choices, stupid actions: they are all things that hold us back from happiness and a lot of times from other people. The trick to the wall is this: genuine people are the ones that find a way to knock it down instead of walking away from the wall, because the person or thing inside is that valuable. When you hit a brick wall, don’t give up or end your journey, patiently find your way through it.
2. “Not everything needs to be fixed.”
Problems arise, but if it still serves its purpose then there’s no need to try to fix it. Don’t get a new car just because it’s dented, don’t quit your job because the commute is a hassle, don’t end a relationship because certain problems cant be fixed. If it’s serving the purpose you need it to, then just go with it. Sometimes you are better off learning to cope.
3. “No matter how bad things are you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better.”
Remember there’s always something worse that can happen, so don’t pout, and overcome the obstacle and make it better.
4. “Time must be explicitly managed like money.”
Ask yourself if you are spending your time on the right things. If you are chasing your dreams at every opportunity and if the dream is even worth pursing.
5. “When 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.”
Not settling and reaching your highest potential is how solutions are found, when a team of doctors reach their highest potential there will be a cure for AIDS, when sex education reaches its highest potential, abortion will be unnecessary. When you reach your highest potential, your wildest dreams come true.
6. “Complaining does not work as a strategy.”
Any time spent complaining doesn’t make you happier. Apply the energy spent complaining to a solution and I promise there will no longer be a problem.
7. “Treat the disease, not the symptoms”
8. “If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you. Almost everybody has a good side. Just keep waiting it will come out.”
I lived by this the past couple of months. I kept reminding myself to patiently wait things out, because usually the storm passes. Patience will be both appreciated and rewarded.
9. “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.”
Learn from your mistakes, because with experience, what lies ahead becomes easier.
10. “Frustrated masses, yearning for simplicity”
Don’t over-complicate things. Simple is better.
11. “Loyalty is a two- way street.”
Can’t expect respect if you aren’t worthy of it.
12. “Work Hard”
Those words are how you will become more efficient, more able, and sometimes happier. Hard work is the key to success and even how couples stay together.
13. Apologizing 101: ” Bad apologies are worse than no apology.”
1. What I did was wrong.
2. I feel badly I hurt you.
3. How do I make it better?
The Last Lecture isn’t just a book, it’s a manual for living by a person who is dying. Weird right? But it serves as a conscious reminder of the lessons we often forget we have learned.