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A little guide to life.by Randy Pausch

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Hard Work and Feedback Will Help You Achieve Your Childhood Dreams

  • May 7, 2009
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I am not the sort that reads a lot of "self help" or "inspirational" books. Usually, if you simply stop and observe your environment or pause to reflect on your life, you should be able to discover some basic truths and inspiration. However, knowing a little about the life of Randy Pausch and the Last Lecture series, I made an exception in this case and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Randy Pausch (with Wall Street Journal writer Jeffrey Zaslow) has written an enjoyable, touching, and extremely worthwhile book.

Chapter 1: The Last Lecture
Chapter 2: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Chapter 3: Adventures . . . And Lessons Learned
Chapter 4: Enabling The Dreams of Others
Chapter 5: It's About How to Live Your Life
Chapter 6: Final Remarks

"The Last Lecture" series at Carnegie Mellon is an opportunity for outgoing professors to impart their life lessons to an audience of students, peers, and guests. It usually makes the audience consider their own lives and to wonder if they had one chance to make an impact on a diverse audience, what would they say? Randy Pausch, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction (read: virtual reality) and design, was given the opportunity to present a "Last Lecture" shortly after discovering that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. The Last Lecture doesn't contain the text of his speech but rather expands on it. And in the process, he has created a legacy for his children and an inspirational book for the rest of us. Starting with his thought process on accepting the invitation to present and ending with personal notes to his wife and children, Pausch reviews his life and the lessons he has learned. The value of the book isn't that you are required to radically change your life to achieve happiness, but to make little changes. These changes are presented in a clear and informative manner, using his experience to solidify the point. This is a very effective teaching method.

A small book, but one that should be on your bookshelf. I can see myself referring to this book many times over the years. Whether I re-read it or use it as a reference, it holds much value. If you are looking for a gift to thank an educator, this is the book that you should give. Pausch has very specific ideas on the role of educators, and those ideas are found throughout the book. It is, in my mind, a refreshing view of education and teaching objectives. Pausch recognizes the value of feedback and provides several techniques, not only for managers but for teachers and professors as well. Good or bad, feedback is key to the growth of students and employees. Another idea that has resonated with me when Randy speaks of being earnest. "Earnestness is highly underestimated. It comes from the core, while hip is trying to impress you with surface." This is a message about doing something for the generations instead of for the moment. His example is the achievement of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. This award is one where in your later years continues to impress people. It is, as he writes, one of the very few things a 16 year old can achieve that still has merit at age 50. While I have specifically noted several points in the book, there are many more that you will find valuable, useful, and motivational.

But the best part of the book is when he relates touching anecdotes from his life; his parents, meeting, dating, and marrying his wife, the birth of his children and the dreams that he has for them. This book will have an effect on me for long time. Not only for the excellent inspiration but for the life that it celebrates. With Randy Pausch's assistance, you, too, can achieve your childhood dreams.

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More The Last Lecture reviews
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
This book is great and it forces you to look at your own life and ask whether you are really appreciating life the way you should. Pausch is a great writer. So grateful for this book and my prayers are with his family.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
What an amazing man and a amazing book. One of my favorites.
Quick Tip by . July 07, 2010
Really puts the "big stuff" and "little stuff" into perspective. Organizes how one views life in its entirety.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
This is a true story from someone dying of cancer..
review by . June 23, 2010
This book is a perfect read for people who take their lives for granted. This is written by a beloved college professor before he died. It talks about the bridges we gross, the walls that stop us, and the people that guide us. It is a truely inspirational book that i think every adult should read in their lifetime. it talks about how to go for your dreams no matter how impossible they seem. Life is too short so you have to take advantage of the time that you have becasue it goes by way to fast. …
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Yes, the book has some great moments, but it is overrated. If it weren't for the author's struggle with cancer and sad death, the book would never have become such a highly respected bestseller. Don't get me wrong – it's worth the read. Just don't expect to be fully transformed over the course of a short book.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Inspiring piece of writing.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
i think everyone should read this book. its a true inspiration
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
loved it
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2010
About the reviewer
Gregg Eldred ()
Ranked #72
It never ceases to amaze me how many doors have opened up for me since I started reviewing the books I read. Publishers now send me free books to read and review. Authors contact me. Kind folks at Lunch … more
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About this book


"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Questions for Randy Pausch

We were shy about barging in on Randy Pausch's valuable time to ask him a few questions about his expansion of his famous Last Lecture into the book by the same name, but he was ...

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ISBN-10: 1401323251
ISBN-13: 978-1401323257
Author: Randy Pausch
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Entertainment
Publisher: Hyperion
Date Published: April 8, 2008
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