Randy Pausch’s ‘The Last Lecture’ offers touching inspiration

Do you find that folks in a computer science profession aloof? Are folks in the Information Technology department at your workplace a touch odd, shy, and lacking in the panache of personality that you crave? With the life lessons and experiences shared by Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University in his 2008 book The Last Lecture, the Pittsburgh-based computer science professor gave the presentation on life that forms the basis of the book The Last Lecture a mere ten months before his death in July 2008.

Last Lecture 2(Randy Pausch)

Prior to giving this lecture offered in the book, Pausch had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and less than 12-months to live. Pausch set about offering the life-affirming story of pursuing your childhood dreams in a fashion that belied both the preconception of people working in computer science as well as that of a talk about a man talking about death. The story was one of inspiration, life lessons that Pausch wished to leave for his wife and young kids, and paying forward the lessons that he, Pausch, had taken from those who influenced him.

Last Lecture 3(Randy Pausch delivering his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh)

Much of the stories within the lecture can be considered mini-essays about life. Pausch talks of the love he has for his wife, Jai. Pausch distills life lessons that he would like to leave for his three children, so that they had a first hand sense for the man that would be much more possible with this record than simply with the stories from his wife. The sense of humor, intelligence, and panache of his tales were engaging.

Last Lecture 4(Randy Pausch, left, and Jai Pausch (Glasgow))

Hearkening back to his larger audience at Carnegie Mellon University, where Pausch gave his last lecture, I like that he focused a chapter on sharing cliche. He focused on the general truths captured in them, and that students at a university (or younger) can benefit from the wisdom. Why? The benefit comes from their truth and that students by and large lack the life experience to know about them. Another favorite subject was the section / chapter on team dynamics. The key thing here is that many people are so self-focused that they do not really learn how to function with others or for others. This, in reality, forces computer science students, college students, and even his kids to hear a lesson that Pausch found telling and important.

Last Lecture 5(Randy Pausch with his three kids)

There is so much more to the lessons about life and self that Pausch shared in The Last Lecture that this offering does not do justice to the subject. The ending to the lecture punctuates the larger point that these life lessons all get back to the larger, more important point of leaving memories of yourself for those that you love most. These loves notes for Pausch were for his wife, Jai, and their three kids. The lecture involved a couple notions of the subject of head fakes, which get back to how lessons are taught using the cliche of lessons from a football coach that Pausch admired.

The engaging, touching quality of the message of the book stands tall for me. My rating for the book is 4.5-stars out of 5-stars. This book, though covering ostensibly sad material, is worth the read for me.

Matt – Saturday, March 31, 2018


Author: Matt and Lynn Digital Blog

Matt and Lynn are a couple living in the Midwest of the United States.

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