I know little of the late Dr. Randy Pausch. He was, by all accounts a remarkable man and beloved professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His work was on the cutting edge in the developing technology of virtual reality. His tenacity when confronted with obstacles was apparent. He helped people dream and have fun. He was a devoted husband and an extremely loving father. He died of pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008 at the age of 48. He was survived by his wife and three young children.
Dr. Pausch gave a speech a few months before his death entitled Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. It is more widely known simply as The Last Lecture. The full YouTube version has been viewed almost 15 million times since the release in late 2007. The reprised version from Oprah is below. It is an amazing lesson on life written for his children, delivered to his students, but important to us all. I have watched both versions often and learn something with each viewing.
Near the end of the presentation on how to achieve your childhood dreams Dr. Pausch makes the following point. “If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself; the dreams will come to you. If you live properly, the dreams will come to you.” It is a success strategy that we do not often hear. Whether your focus is on your job, your personal ministry, or raising your family how you live your life plays a more important role than the specific actions you might take. Some of the key facets of Dr. Pausch’s right way to live are:
- Be stubborn when confronted with brick walls
- Remain humble
- Value people more than things
- Never underestimate the importance of having fun
- Model integrity by telling the truth, apologizing with sincerity, and being patient with others
- Show gratitude
- Don’t complain, work harder.
Paul gave a similar message to the people of Galatia. He said, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
Communicating a vision, developing an action plan, flowcharting processes, and implementing specific tasks are all very important pieces to success in most any field. Those things, however, can never replace the true value of living the right life built on the models provided us by both Paul and Dr. Pausch. One day we will each be delivering our own last lecture to the ones we love but the example of our “right” lives and the human successes they bring will be more powerful than any final words.