Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Randy Pausch - Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Randy Pausch is the professor from Carnegie Mellon University that last year gave his now famous Last Lecture on "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." It is very stirring particularly since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and had been given only 3-6 months of good health. As you watch it, it's unavoidable to think, how can he do this and know that he dying soon? He has just recently died (July 25, 2008).
Only recently had I heard of Pausch and thought I've got to watch this. So I did and it was worth it. In this lecture he discusses his pursuit of his childhood dreams and some of the lessons he has learned along the way. If you want to know what his were and whether he achieved them go and watch the lecture! I will give some highlights and thoughts after viewing the lecture.
The main line is powerful: "Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things." We all hit brick walls in the pursuit of our dreams, it is our response that matters. Brick walls are opportunities to those who have the courage to scale them, and they keep the less earnest and eager out. That's the other side of the coin of achievement, if it wasn't hard it wouldn't be worth achieving. What would be the point of pursing an Olympic Gold Medal if they handed out at the door to all who merely showed up?
The other point that really stuck with me was this one: We often learn more from the dreams we pursue that we don't achieve than from the dreams we do achieve. He discusses one of his unfulfilled dreams but that he learned unforgettable lessons from the pursuit itself. Two points here. First, "fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals": "whatever it is that you are pursuing remember that you can't do the fancy stuff, if you can't do the fundamentals." Second, "when you are doing badly, and no one lets you know anymore, then no one cares anymore." Ouch. That is a terrible place to be. The take-away is to find people that really care.
You can visit Pausch's site, or the Wikipedia article on him. The lecture can be viewed on his website or you can download a great copy of it from iTunes from Carnegie Mellon's posts to iTunes University (all free, search for "Pausch" on iTunes).