When 45-year-old Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he chose to focus on living rather than dying. As a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pausch was asked to deliver a “last lecture.” This well-known campus tradition allowed professors to share worldly wisdom with students as if, hypothetically, they were dying and had one last lecture to give.
The only difference in Pausch’s case is that Pausch really was dying, a fact that only motivated him more. He delivered his last lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” on Sept.18, 2007, to a packed McConomy Auditorium.
Pausch began by sharing several of his boyhood dreams, some which he had achieved and others he hadn’t. He described the importance of having dreams and how anyone can still learn a lot by reaching for those dreams, even if they don’t always succeed. He shared the values, learned through experience, which he hoped to pass on to others: integrity, honesty, character, hard work, laughter and gratitude.
Pausch’s last lecture received a great deal of praise and attention. It became a viral YouTube hit, and in October 2007, he presented an abridged version on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He turned the lecture into a book by the same name, which quickly became a best-seller. Readers were deeply moved by the book’s portrayal of Pausch’s lifelong philosophy and the way it revealed the ultimate source of his motivation—his three young children.
Randy Pausch passed away July 25, 2008, but his voice lives on in the recorded lecture and his book. He continues to motivate us all by encouraging us to never give up on our childhood dreams—a source of inspiration that can never run dry.
Motivation. Pass It On!
This billboard about Motivation features Randy Pausch (1960-2008); professor of computer science.