I was deeply saddened to learn that Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, Randy Pausch, passed away last Friday at the age of 47 from pancreatic cancer.
Pausch became famous for his inspirational Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (see video below) delivered in September 2007.
Many professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture” in which they are asked to imagine that this would indeed be their ‘last lecture’ and to convey the most important things they’ve learned during their lives.
Professor Pausch didn’t have to imagine the scenario. He was one month into a cancer diagnosis that gave him only 3 – 6 months to live… and yet his lecture wasn’t the least bit sad, depressing or about dying. It was about making the most of every second you’ve got while on the planet. According to friends’ and family accounts on a Primetime tribute to him last night – bless him, that’s exactly what Randy Pausch did.
A video of the lecture was posted to YouTube and as of today has been seen by 5,312,956 viewers. His book, published in April 2008 under the same name, instantly became a #1 bestseller and has been translated into at least 30 languages.
His book, The Last Lecture, expands on the lecture, because as he noted “Well, the lecture was written quickly–in under a week. And it was time-limited. I had a great six-hour lecture I could give, but I suspect it would have been less popular at that length 😉.
A book allows me to cover many, many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them. Also, much of my lecture at Carnegie Mellon focused on the professional side of my life–my students, colleagues and career. The book is a far more personal look at my childhood dreams and all the lessons I’ve learned. Putting words on paper, I’ve found, was a better way for me to share all the yearnings I have regarding my wife, children and other loved ones. I knew I couldn’t have gone into those subjects on stage without getting emotional.”
If you haven’t seen the video – I highly recommend that you watch it. Or if you have seen it, watch it again. It might be the most inspirational message and sage advice you ever encounter about living your best life. In 76 minutes, he talks about honesty, the value of brick walls, love, work, laughter and so much more. He shares his message with intelligence, humor and deep-seated conviction. At very least, watching ‘The Last Lecture’ will brighten your day but it could also very well change your life for the better.
Thank you, Randy!