Have Your Childhood Dreams Escaped? “The Last Lecture” Puts It All In Perspective

If you haven’t heard the story of Dr. Randy Pausch, who received national attention when he began appearing on numerous television shows including Oprah last year, then you should especially stay tuned into today’s post.

Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer when he was asked to deliver his famous “last lecture.”

Nearly 400 students attended the lecture and when it was posted on YouTube, millions watched. He soon garnished national attention, and his story appeared on talk shows and news broadcasts across the U.S.

What Is “The Last Lecture”?

“A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture.’ Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?” according to the Amazon website description of Pausch’s book appropriately titled The Last Lecture.

When Randy Pausch was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the site says.

“But the lecture he gave on ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’ wasn’t about dying,” Amazon said. “It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because ‘time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think’). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.”

You can learn more about Pausch’s book by clicking here.

More about Dr. Pausch

Dr. Pausch was an award-winning teacher and researcher, and worked with Adobe, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), and Walt Disney Imagineering, and pioneered the non-profit Alice project –Alice is an innovative 3-D environment that teaches programming to young people via storytelling and interactive game-playing, according to The Last Lecture Website.

He also co-founded The Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon with Don Marinelli, according the website. ETC is the premier professional graduate program for interactive entertainment as it is applies across a variety of fields, the site says.

On July 25, 2008, Dr. Pausch died, ending his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Watch “The Last Lecture” Video (

Courtesy of Oprah)

What Would Your “Last Lecture” Entail?

If you knew that your life would soon come to an end (and in actuality none of us know when that time will arrive, unless we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness like Dr. Pausch had), what parting words would you give your audience (i.e. friends, parents, children, spouse, distant relatives, colleagues, business partners, students, general public, etc.)?

I’ll end this post with a few of Randy’s most piercing, parting words: “If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you. If you live properly, the dreams will come to you.”

Continue to live your dreams. But most importantly, continue to devote yourselves in making a difference in the world.

Keep the Discussion Going

Dr. Pausch made a lasting impression by giving what would be considered his final lecture. But he made an even greater impression through the life he chose to live with gratitude, unselfishness, and a sincere consideration for others. He devoted himself to the work he loved, to his family, and to helping students become even greater than he.

What will be your legacy?
 Read my post about leaving a legacy, by clicking here.

About the Author

Emily Brown is the key contributor and creator of  TheCareerPioneer.com, a blog that delivers articles and posts about job industry trends; plus motivational, retrospective stories about career exploration and discovering one’s passion. A former business journalist at Bloomberg News, her work has also appeared in  The Wall Street Journal,  The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and others. Emily lives and works in Washington, DC. She can easily be reached at info@thecareerpioneer.com. Feel free to drop her a line to say “hello,” suggest an opportunity, or provide news of your own.