Monday, September 1, 2008

The Last Lecture - reading to identify self and lessons learned

An incredible life journey for a common man with a common life reveals powerful lessons in life. Death of course is part of life. Early death is a tragedy. How do you turn a tragedy into a legacy for your family and friends? It has something to do with attitude. Here are the lessons I embrace from Randy Pausch, the author, who lived a life of only 47 years. I see him very similar to myself, so his book struck home very strongly for me. I hope that you read his book also and finish with a different circumspect vision of yourself as I did. This is the reason this book is so popular. It is a short but not one to be taken lightly.

  • Family is foremost in all things. The father and mother play very important roles in a child's life. Being a father is to see that the child gets the opportunity to dream and set his roots into his vision of life, but guided and encouraged by his parents to be his own individual person. A daughter is very special and a good father will recognize that and see to it that she has the relationship needed to eventually embrace life as a woman with strong family and interpersonal values. Who falls in love with your daughter first? It is the father! I too am a member of the "wrapped-around-my-daughter's-finger club". Both sons and daughters learn from team sports, which by the way are not an extension of the parents but a learning experience of the child. Give your children as many opportunities as you can for this indirect learning. It is a "head fake", the type where your children learn what you want them to learn without them knowing it. The relationship of man and wife is difficult to maintain and grow. Direct communication and the realization of gaps is very important. Acceptance of the our mate is paramount to a good relationship regardless of perceived flaws.
  • A positive attitude which seeks resolution on issues is like coasting downhill to happiness. Everything else becomes easier. Whining gets one nowhere; no one wants to hear it. When we're done whining, we are not any happier.
  • What others think of us is not very important. What we think of others is. Look for the good in others and good will eventually come of it, especially if you specifically note it. Apply this rule to your children. They want to know that you like and appreciate about them. Tell them exactly why.
  • Advice to a daughter - watch what the guys do, not what they say. Sweet talkers are a dime a dozen. The good ones operating from the heart are not so numerous.
  • Define experience - what you got when you didn't get what you wanted.
  • Be personal with people. Write notes by hand. You will be remembered and appreciated much more when picking the right time to write a note by hand. Typing on paper is impersonal. When meeting someone new, invest the time and effort to remember that person. At that time, that person is the most important person in the world to you.
  • Give what you receive. Call this "forwarding on". Your rewards will be numerous.
  • Preparation is a way to achieve and enjoy. Think ahead and do "what if's". That can improve the quality of your life tremendously.
  • There are three parts to an apology. Tell it like it is, not what you want it to be. (1) What did I do wrong? (2) I feel badly for what I did. (3) How can I make it better?
  • The truth will set you free. It also sets the stage for others to open up to you. Embrace it as a habit.
  • Inventory your childhood dreams and live them. Do not forget them. Set doable goals to achieve them. They are the backbone of your existence.
  • Remember your roots and the guiding compass you were given. Every step of the way is influenced by that compass.
  • One can live in two cultures, taking the best of the two together. Just identify the best and move on.
  • It is alright to be heads over heals in love with someone. Enjoy it.
  • We are given a hand to play. Play it!
  • The brick wall that we cannot seem to climb over is often our most valued asset. It shows us how badly we want something and when we do manage to scale it, we are much better off for conquering it.
  • Humility goes a very long way to acceptance and love. That trait is durable and worth every penny invested in it.
  • There are professional and personal legacies to be dealt with in this life. Take steps to ensure you have both in your sight long before you face death so you can look back on it and be consoled when you do eventually pass away. You never know when it will come.
  • Early death is not the same as late death but the approach probably should be the same. Treat life as if you have a short time to live. Every day, every hour is important. Manage your time.
  • In death, be reassured and give reassurance to those you love that in your passing, part of each person you love also passes with you. You take something of everyone you love with you to the grave. This is good and your family and friends should know that. You are comforted by that little something you take with you.
  • Understand that in death there are two types of insurance. The traditional financial kind and the less definable emotional type. Your job is to prepare both for your family.

    you read the book, I suggest watching the video of his actual last lecture:

If you have read this book, I would love to hear what you learned from it and how you feel about your life relative to it.