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34 things I learned from The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

 Assume that you're on the verge of dying. You've probably a few months to live. You're suffering from some notorious form of cancer wherein you've very less hope of surviving.

And then you think that you've very less time for all the things you wanted to do, for all the things you wanted to say to your loved ones, to your children and to the world.

How would you want your children to remember you? Of what you thought about them? Your feelings for them?

A few days ago I read the book - The last lecture by Randy Pausch. Randy was a professor at Carnegie Melon University and the book and the lecture is about achieving your childhood dreams. But more than that, I found the book as a good resource on parenting.

Here are a few points that I found worth sharing:

1. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer. So I lectured.

2. Engineering isn’t about perfect solutions; it’s about doing the best you can with limited resources.

3. What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

4. I thought there were two types of families :
     1) Those who need a dictionary to get through dinner.
     2) Those who don’t?
     We were No. 1.
      //A thought that needs to be imbibed and practiced by many families today. We're so engrossed in the world of mobile phones and TV and the same is now incorporated into the lives of young kids. Reading must be give prime importance and should be woven into our lives with very less time for mobile phones and TV which are making us dumb.

5. The instinct in our house was never to sit around like slobs and wonder. We knew a better way : Open the encyclopedia. Open the dictionary. Open your mind.

6. Stories should be told for a reason.

7. I also think my dad would be reminding me that kids — more than anything else — need to know their parents love them . Their parents don’t have to be alive for that to happen.

8. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work.

9. “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore , that means they’ve given up on you .

10. There’s a lot of talk these days about giving children self - esteem. It’s not something you can give; it’s something they have to build.

11. When we send our kids to play organized sports — football, soccer, swimming, whatever — for most of us, it’s not because we’re desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport. What we really want them to learn is far more important : teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, an ability to deal with adversity. This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a “head fake.”

12. My parents were frugal. Unlike many Americans, they would never buy anything for the purposes of impressing other people, or as any kind of luxury for themselves. But they happily bought the World Book, spending a princely sum at the time, because by doing so, they were giving the gift of knowledge to me and my sister. They also ordered the annual companion volumes.

13. ... my father was a man of his word.

14. “Look, I’m going to find a way to be happy, and I’d really love to be happy with you, but if I can’t be happy with you, then I’ll find a way to be happy without you .”
     //Randy to Jai while he's still trying to woo her ;-)

15. Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

16. My parents had raised me to recognize that automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status...... my belief that you don’t repair things if they still do what they’re supposed to do. The cars still work. Let’s just drive ’em .”

17. Through the whole ordeal, I don’t think we ever said to each other : “This isn’t fair.” We just kept going. We recognized that there were things we could do that might help the outcome in positive ways…and we did them. Without saying it in words, our attitude was, “ Let’s saddle up and ride.”

18. His delivery was more fun than whatever he had for us.
     //Randy's father used to bring chocolates or some toys after returning home from office. And the way in which he used to deliver those little things to the children (as if demonstrating an act of magic) was much more enjoyable than the things he brought. This is a beautiful way of happiness in small things.

19. Time must be explicitly managed, like money.

20. Ask yourself : Are you spending your time on the right things?

21. Take a time out. It’s not a real vacation if you’re reading email or calling in for messages.

22. Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.

23. The only way any of us can improve — as Coach Graham taught me — is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. If we can’t accurately do that, how can we tell if we’re getting better or worse.

24. ....“I know you’re smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn’t enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone else feel happy to be here.”

25. I learned that my dad had taken a photo of our TV set the second Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. He had preserved the moment for me, knowing it could help trigger big dreams. We still have that photo in a scrapbook.

26. Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids’ dreams, too. Once in a while, that might even mean letting them stay up past their bedtimes.

27. Fashion, by the way, is commerce masquerading as hip. ..... You buy new clothes when your old clothes wear out.

28. Somehow, with the passage of time, and the deadlines that life imposes, surrendering became the right thing to do.

29. Randy to his daughter:
     (1) “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.”
     (2) ... I want her to grow up knowing that I was the first man ever to fall in love with her.

30. .... (there should be) healthy balance between optimism and realism.

31. One rule in our house is that you may not ask one - word questions. Dylan embraces that idea. He loves to formulate full - sentence questions, and his inquisitiveness goes beyond his years.

32. So my dreams for my kids are very exact : I want them to find their own path to fulfillment.

33. Kids, don’t try to figure out what I wanted you to become. I want you to become what you want to become.

34. “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 - Randy Pausch


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