Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

"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. However, 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. - Excerpt from Review

My Review: It is challenging to comment honestly on a book written by a man who has recently passed away, and whose intent in writing was to give his children a way to know him. However, while reading, I found myself comparing this book to Tuesdays with Morrie. I believe this is the only other book like this I’ve read. In doing so I found it an interesting study between the advice given by a 40 year old father of young children, who is arguably “vigorous” until very near the end of his life and that of an aging professor who, aside from living a long, fulfilling life has slow declined into a nearly helpless state. I might as well come clean that I found Tuesdays with Morrie to be the more compelling of the two books, with nearly each page holding a universal wisdom. That is not to say I wouldn’t recommend The Last Lecture - it does have many interesting and useful concepts – it is just that a lot of the advice needed some refinement. And I guess this is the sad part of the story, the author just wouldn’t experience much more of life and its refining abilities. That said here is one of concepts Pausch presents that really struck me. (I will be summarizing this in lieu of searching the book for the exact quote, my apologies) There are a lot of intelligent and capable people working on any number of projects, industries, teams etc. In essence, there is always someone who can do what you do. In order to make yourself truly useful in a unique way you in addition to your skills you need to bring motivation and happiness to the group as a whole.

My rating:
3.5 stars - while the book wasn't a "fall out of my chair" revelation I think the purpose and context of the writer-ship is admirable.

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence it would be:
A good book to read bits and pieces of on Sunday afternoons.


MindySue said...

Nice to see you on here! I haven't read this one but I did read TWM and I thought it was a really good book...but I guess that I felt I had heard it all before. I guess I was blessed enough that none of the things he presented were revelations...truths? absolutely. revelation? no. so it wasn't as earth-shaking for me as I expected.

Kristy said...

One of my staple books getting through school for sure! Thank you for this review!


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