"We cannot change the cards we are dealt,
just how we play the hand."
- Randy Pausch
This is by far the best memoir I have ever read. Randy Pausch was a professor who was diagnosed with cancer. Like most memoirs, I was expecting The Last Lecture to be another journey to redemption through a long and troubled past. Surprisingly every page of The Last Lecture breathes with optimism on how we can live our lives to the fullest. In fact it takes us through a journey where we are not left to draw the lessons from another dark and troubled past but from Randy's own conclusions from his own experiences. Each lesson is recounted in small chewable chunks - clearly illustrated with a short story. I found his narrative to be light and enjoyable, filled with, humor, truth, and a zest for life.
Randy Pausch's lecture is entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". But as I read through, I realized his intention was not to show how we can achieve our childhood dreams but how we should lead our lives. Because by leading our lives right, the dreams will come. His intention was also to leave his children with the wisdom they would need for life.
Here is a video of Randy Pausch himself giving his lecture before a packed audience in Sept of 2007, 10 months before he passed away.
The following are my favorite quotes from the book about work, marriage, and life in general:
- We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
- Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.
- I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.
- You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.
- When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. That means they've given up on you. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.
- Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
- Head fake learning is absolutely important, and you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.
- The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.
- It’s pretty easy to be smart when you’re parroting smart people.
- It’s very important to know when you’re in a pissing match. And it’s very important to get out of it as quickly as possible.
- Until you got ice cream spilled on you, you’re not doing field work.
- Use semantics to phrase anything in a positive light: What time will the park close? - The park is OPEN until 8 pm. How long before I die? - You probably have three to six months of GOOD HEALTH.
- People are more important than things. Automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status.
- Throughout the whole ordeal, I don't think we ever said to each other "This isn't fair." We just kept going. We realized there WERE things we could do that might help the outcome in positive ways, and we did them.
- I can’t tell you beforehand, but right before they present it I can tell you if the world (his students project work) is good by the body language. If they’re standing close to each other, the world is good.
- If you’re going to do anything that pioneering you will get those arrows in the back, and you just have to put up with it. I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
- Somewhere along the way there’s got to be some aspect of what lets you get to achieve your dreams. First one is the role of parents, mentors, and students.
- And he (Andy Van Dam) said, Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant. Because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life.
- You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore.
- I have a theory that people who come from large families are better people because they’ve just had to learn to get along.
- Loyalty is a two way street.
- 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 rmore efficient, more able, even happier. Hard work is like compounded interest in a bank. The rewards build faster.
- Syl said, it took me a long time but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.
- You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest.
I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.
- Apologise when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
- Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.
- Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it.
- Don’t complain. Just work harder. That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him.
Be good at something, it makes you valuable.
- Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
- Be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
- All my adult life I've felt drawn to ask long-married couples how they were able to stay together. All of them said the same thing: "We worked hard at it". Jai and I work hard at our mariage. We've gotten so much better at communicating, at sensing each other's needs and strengths, and at finding more things to love about each other.
- 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.
The Last Lecture is available at Fully Booked
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