guest post by Craig McBreen
A Dying Man’s Perspective
Looking at the title you might wonder if a post like this belongs on Al’s blog. This is a place about gratitude, forgiveness and being positive, right? Bear with me, please.
Live your life the right way
“Do the right thing, and let karma take care of the rest, and dreams will come to you.”
This is an excerpt from Randy Pausch’s last lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” In fact, it’s a parting message delivered at the end of his magnificent, arresting, and uplifting speech.
You probably know the story
If you don’t know the story
Randy Pausch, A professor at Carnegie Mellon University, award-winning teacher and researcher, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2006 and given just three to six months to live. Happily married with three young children, he wanted to leave a legacy for his kids. In academic tradition, a last lecture is hypothetically what you say if you know you are going to die. His fate was confirmed, which makes the tone of the talk that much more amazing.
In the talk we see snapshots of Randy’s life, from a childhood dreamer, a kid fascinated with the NFL and Walt Disney, to his work in virtual reality and his experiences working with Disney Imagineering. For him, a dream come true. Presenting his background story, he infused many weighty, but valuable messages that stick with you. The speech was about life and childhood dreams, not death. Upbeat and inspirational and laced with fragments all about living each day as though it were your last. Powerful stuff.
Strangely enough, it was a dying man speaking about the best possible outcome.
He truly did want to leave a legacy for his kids, but the brilliance of the talk was how well he articulated several core words of wisdom. Pearls of advice about making the world a better place. I’m convinced his speech and subsequent book touched and changed the lives of many people.
As a child he dreamed of working for Disney, specifically an Imagineer. In fact after college he tried, but was actually rejected. Those first rejection letters were more inspirational than anything. You see, one of his lessons was: The brick walls are there for a reason: to let us show how badly we want something. He eventually went on to work with the company that lived in his dreams, as a virtual reality consultant.
He achieved his childhood dream, but the speech was about so much more. Remember, he was at death’s door at the time of this talk. A dying man enjoying life, celebrating life to the very end, but doing what he did best, teaching. The speech sticks with you, inspires and amazes.
Anything is possible
A precocious child, he believed that anything was possible. And he almost pleads with us to never lose that spirit or child-like wonder. But along the way, show gratitude, help others and don’t complain. Accept criticism as a form of help, then work harder and never, ever, ever, give up. And when you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
Some other fine pearls:
Decide early on if you are going to be a Tigger or Eeyore
Tiggers are adventurous, have fun, engage and explore. Tiggers aren’t afraid to ask questions. You all know what Eeyore was about. Randy was a Tigger, no doubt.
Work and play well with others
You can’t get there alone. Listen. Tell the truth. Apologize when you screw up, and mean it. Wait and people will show you their good side. No one is pure evil. And if you wait long enough people show you their admirable qualities.
After Randy’s father passed away they discovered something special while going through his things. His father was awarded a medal of valor while serving in World War II. Somehow it had never come up in 50 years of marriage.
And my favorite
Don’t bail: The very best gold is at the bottom of the crap barrel
The head fake
At the end of the talk Randy asks the audience if they figured out the head fake: The speech wasn’t about how to achieve your childhood dreams, really. They were duped. It was about how to lead your life. Remember the karma quote?
The second head fake? Addressing the audience, he said, “the talk is not for you, it’s for my kids.” He really wrote this speech for three small people too young to really have known him before he passed away.
He left a legacy for his family no doubt, but in the process created something truly special. The Last Lecture has been downloaded by over 14-million viewers. If you haven’t watched the talk, it’s an excellent investment of one hour and 16 minutes of your day, after all, it is about gratitude, forgiveness and being positive.
I’m sure Randy would have been a big believer in the C.A.R.E. movement.
Craig McBreen owns and operates McBreen Design, but you can also find him at craigmcbreen.com or Twitter. A rookie blogger and student of social media, Craig is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but now resides in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two kids.