All achievement in life begins with the spark of inspiration. If motivation keeps the internal fire burning while pursuing a goal, inspiration is the matchstick. And as the old saying goes, “You can’t light a fire with a wet match”.
Last night while doing a little reflecting, I remembered the incredibly moving talk by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007 titled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. The lecture was part of a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for retiring professors who were to give a lecture on whatever they wished to share with students as the last lecture they gave before they died—metaphorically speaking of course. The cosmic irony in this case is that Prof. Pausch had terminal pancreatic cancer at the time of his lecture (he passed away several months later).
The cancer did not stop him that day. His lecture was so profound that it ended up being watched by millions, converted into a book, and for a two hour presentation—it changed the world.
Here’s the video which I highly recommend:
To me, some of the most memorable life lessons that he shared were (my favourites in bold):
- Always have something to bring to the table- it helps (i.e. be good at something).
- Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
- Leadership is a highly valuable skill. In Star Trek, Captain Kirk was far from the smartest officer- but he had the skill of leadership.
- When you want something from someone, try to ask them at a time when they can’t say no.
- If you wait long enough, people will surprise you (i.e. if you’re pissed with someone now, eventually they will show you their good side).
- When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
- Don’t complain. Just work harder.
- When you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
- Be prepared, because luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
- Brick walls are there for a reason. They help us to prove how badly we want something. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their goal badly enough.
Randy Pausch’s last lecture will always be special to me, as a source of valuable lessons, and a personal inspiration.