I know which books appeal to me the most – because the best ones for me always follows the same pattern:
1) Buy book
2) Finish book in 1-2 days
3) Put book away
4) Notice book a year later & re-read entire book again.
This book is one of those rare books – it was stumbling across the books website via some other research I was doing that had me dig out this book again.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie-Mellon University who after learning he would die within months talks about how he faced life after that and how he prepared for their university’s tradition of exiting professors giving one last lecture called the ‘Final Lecture”.
These talks by retiring professors were based on the theme of “What would be your last lecture, what last part of wisdom would you impart to others if you knew you were going to die or leave forever?” – and in Randy’s case, preparing for this talk and distilling life’s wisdoms into an 1- hour talk is what lead to a book, a widely viewed video and a website commemorating that night.
Even if you don’t read the book – check out the video online of his talk that night – great life lessons in there – and it reaffirms those things that are most important coming from someone who has been in technology their whole lives but now knows he had less than a few months to go at the time he gave this talk at his college – I would love to find a way to fit the viewing of this video into my son’s Boy Scout Troop schedule as it just seems like something that could resonate with young people as well. And during the video seeing his wife in the front row trying to hold it together about brought me to tears during his very upbeat and honest lecture on “How to Chase Your Childhood Dreams”.
The book focuses more on his decision to make the most of his remaining months, and continue teaching in relatively good health until the very end rather than chase down near-zero-chance treatments that would have left him very sick and energy-less his last few months, and the family struggles over that decision.
My favorite lessons from the book without giving anything away are –
Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted
and his answer to people asking him his secret for success?
Call me at my office at 10 PM on any Friday night and I’ll tell you my secret.
(I love this one)
Finally, Randy talks about the “head fakes” in life – the things we do for different reasons – he talks about how we don’t send our kids out for sports to be professional athletes or for the obvious purpose of exercise or skill honing, most of us send them out to hopefully learn secondary goals like teamwork, hard work, not giving up, etc – he calls these “head fakes” – doing something not really for the obvious purpose it looks like. And I won’t spoil the ending of his video or book but check out the last 4 minutes of the above video if nothing else – I loved the way he ended his speech to his friends, colleagues and loved ones.