Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Randy Pausch: Last Lecture

The first thing I picked up was two quotes. They were "We can not change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." and "The inspiration and the permission to dream is huge." These quotes caught me, and I wanted to make sure to share them here. The first one is so true. The things that happen to us are something that we might not be able to change or control, but we can control how we react to things. If something happens and we decide that we have failed and are never going to be able to get ahead, we probably won't. If something happens and we decide that this is only a small setback, we will use it as a stepping stone to get ahead. The second quote got me because being able to dream is vital to making things happen for you. If you can't dream, how do you know what you want to achieve? Going along with this quote was his comment of having specific dreams. It is important to be able to dream about being an elementary teacher, instead of just dreaming of teaching children. You need to know where your dream is leading you in order to get there.

I found his reference to brick walls to be very interesting and true. In my life I have had brick walls crop up in my path, but finding a way around them has been so important. He said that the walls are there to make you find out how bad you want whatever it is. If you want something bad enough, you will find out how to get around that wall. For me, this can be seen in my life today. I want to teach. In order to teach, I need a degree. To get a degree I had to go to school. The brick wall in my life on my path to my degree is my family. It is not easy to go to school, be a wife, and be a mother, but it is not impossible.

I also found that this lecture just held my attention. He made me really listen and I took so many things from this lecture. A few of the other things I got from this are as follows: fundamentals - without them nothing is going to work, a very bad place to be is where you screw up and nobody bothers to let you know it, wait and people will surprise you, think about the way you say things because there is a bad way and a good way to same the same thing, the way people perceive you is important, focus on others, and apologize when you mess up. Another quote I will take with me is "experience is what you get when you don't get what you expect". He also spoke on perspective. His story was about him complaining to his mother about a class he was taking. His mother just leaned over and reminded him that when his father was his age, he was fighting the Germans. This is perspective, and it makes you think.

The most emotional part of his lecture came in three parts for me. The first was his comment about Moses. He said that like Moses he would only see the Promise Land, not set foot in it, but that was OK because at least he would get to see it. He was talking about the legacy he was leaving in all the students he had taught and all the programs he had started and built. The second was when he brought out a cake for his wife's birthday. I admit to getting teary thinking about what she might have been thinking. This was part of his thinking of others and not yourself. In the midst of a lecture, cancer, and chemo he was still thinking of ways to make his wife smile. The last moment was when he asked if we had figured out that this lecture wasn't for us after all. It was really for his three children. I cried.

I know that we were supposed to blog on the teaching methods he advocated and used at MIT, but that is not really what I got out of listening to his lecture, so I could only blog on what I got out of it. The main thing was just keep trying, and never give up.

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