Several years have passed since I watched “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch on YouTube.  I’m not afraid to say that watching and listening to what this man had to say as he faced a prediction of 6 more months of living brought me to tears.  It also made me take notes.  Notes that I tried to re-read every so often.  Notes that I re-read less as time passed. 

Cindy just finished reading his book “The Last Lecture” and once finished she said it was a better version of the 1 hour and 15 minute compilation of videos we saw on YouTube years back.  So I read it too.  It is a version that shares more stories, more experiences and most of all more reminders of just how great life is and especially life with kids.  He reminds you of how caught up we can all get in the every day.  He reminds you of great lessons he has learned and most amazingly he does this while keeping an amazingly positive outlook even with death staring him in the face.  Courage, bravery and a conscious choice he makes.  The best reminder of all is that this is a choice we make.  I could remember this more.  Some other great reminders that I enjoyed from the book are:

  • At minimum, if you do nothing else as a parent, make sure your kids know you love them.
  • Self-esteem is not something you can just give to your children.  It is built.  Give them something they can’t do.  Allow them to work hard to do it until they learn that they can do it (sometimes with a little help).  Repeat often.
  • Don’t lead kids in the decision on what they should be when they grow up.  Encourage them to get there on their own and decide what THEY want to be.  Support them in each decision.
  • Experience is what you get when things don’t go as planned.  Not sure this is his quote or one he liked but it is a great one!
  • Be a Communitarian – pass on responsibility to people who will serve as role models and learn as they serve.  He uses a great example of his dad hiring older little league players to be umpires in the younger little league divisions.  The younger kids look up to the umpires as role models, the older kid umpires were chosen as an elite honor (and a bonus was none of the parents in the stands yelled at the umpires).
  • “Be the first penguin.”  Take failure as a good thing – it teaches.  It also teaches courage to try which is where many of the best ideas come from.  He awarded kids in the class who failed spectacularly at achieving  an outcome (but put in a great effort) with the “First Penguin Award.”  The first penguin is the one who jumps into the sea at risk of a predator gobbling him/her up.   Plus it sounded better than the “Best Failure Award.”
  • “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”  Again – not sure where this quote comes from (him or someone else) but a great one nonetheless.
  • If he could give kids only 3 words of advice they would be:  “Tell the truth.”  If he got another 3 words on top of that they would be:  “All the time.”

There are so many other gems in this quick read and little sadness about what is ultimately a sad topic.  It would be hard to read this book and not embrace life a bit harder when you are done.  I know I am!


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