You may have already heard about the remarkable Dr. Randy Pausch and his "Last Lecture" presentation. Randy, a professor at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas in the summer of 2006. In August of 2007, Randy was told by the doctors that he had 3-6 months of healthy living left. A month after Randy was given just 3-6 months to live, he delivered an inspiring presentation at his university, a presentation that has touched millions of people around the world. His presentation is a remarkable contribution.To get some background on Randy's story and lecture watch this short video promo below from an ABC special on the "Last Lecture."
Below is the original presentation that Randy did called "The Last Lecture." It's 76 minutes long, but try and set some time aside to watch it this weekend. (Randy wrote a book as well called The Last Lecture along with Jeffrey Zaslow).
How do we inspire others?
Inspiration matters. A lot. Both our own inspiration and the inspiration we instill in others. Randy Pausch's presentations are great, and his words inspiring. But inspiration does not come from mere words, it comes from actions and behaviors. Words matter and words and speeches inspire and stories can change the world. However, it's not only the stories we tell, it's really about the stories we live. It's not about platitudes and wishful thinking, it's about this moment and about you and me taking the chance to reveal who and what we are and why it matters. Our daily life is our story, the actions and the behaviors of our everyday life is the story that can truly inspire others far beyond the ephemeral influence of a single presentation. Randy is a wonderful example of a man whose life is the story, whose life is the message.
Keeping the channel open
We are our stories — though thanks in large part to our education and habits — we have learned to doubt our stories and edit them; we have learned to doubt ourselves. This is the greatest shame of all. Randy reminds us that we can choose to live the life —and tell the story — that is truly within us. Randy's life story is perhaps a reminder to you: What's holding you back? We may each just be a blip on the continuum, but we matter while we're here, so why not make a difference? Why not make a big difference? This is my takeaway from Randy's amazing presentations. And this reminds me of a wonderful Martha Graham quote that was featured in The Art of Possibility:Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. I made the Keynote slide below with the quote and use it occasionally; in hangs on my wall next to my desk as a reminder to "keep the channel open." (Click for the full size.)
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
— Martha Graham
Your approach to today
About four years ago I read Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo. I loved it and quoted Philip a few times in my presentations. Then about a year later I found his website and started reading every word about his battle with cancer. I was at that time shocked and sadden to read that Philip had already passed on June 9, 2002 at age 42. Philip too was an inspiration to me, though we never met. Throughout his ordeal his message was clear: this is the moment, this is the day—we must live every moment as we live our life.The slide below features a quote from Philip's website. This quote is a take on the Japanese expression of ichi-nichi issho (within each day is a lifetime) that fits well with Randy's message as well.
• Randy's website including day-to-day updates from Randy
• Last Lecture page on the ABC News website