Achieving Your Childhood Dreams – Randy Pausch

Welcome to Inspirational Tuesday! On my Facebook, I recently posted the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved 6,000+ Jews during the Holocaust. Many of you commented you had never heard of him, and it got me thinking: You know the Adam Lanza’s, the evil people of the world. Yet often, for some weird reason, the good people often go overlooked. Every Tuesday, I decided to balance it out by showcasing a courageous and inspiring person. Feel free to comment your requests.

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies.” -Hub, Secondhand Lions

Randy Pausch

In September 2006, professor and computer science geek Randy Pausch learned shocking and heartbreaking news: he had pancreatic cancer, and was told he only had 3 to 7 months to live. A year later, he delivered an incredible speech – entitled The Last Lecture, to students and colleagues in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

In the speech, instead of talking about dying or death, Randy decided to talk about living life to its fullest. Through luck, hard work, and a positive attitude, Randy talked about how he achieved his childhood dreams one by one – even the smallest ones, like floating in zero gravity and meeting Captain Kirk from Star Trek.

After the speech, he wrote a bestselling book based on the lecture. Through both, I felt Randy was very down-to-earth and honest. He talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles, never giving up, treating people right, and seizing every moment in life. And really, that’s what life is all about.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • A lot of people want a shortcut. I find the best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: work hard.

  • We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

  • The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

  • Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one tenth the enrgy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.

  • No job is beneath you. You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.

I’m not quite sure how to write an article on “inspiration” without sounding incredibly tacky. The Last Lecture is far from tacky, and he in fact wrote it for his very young children. Instead of the rest of my babbling, you can watch the full amazing lecture below. And if you haven’t read the book, I’d highly recommend you get a copy!

As an update, sadly, Randy died in July 2008, leaving behind his wife and three young children.

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