One Sunday morning I was sitting in the pews of Pittsburgh’s First Unitarian Church, where I was scheduled to facilitate my first coaching-related workshop a few weeks later. One member, a Carnegie Mellon professor named Randy Pausch, announced that his pancreatic cancer had returned. He would be moving away with his family so they could enjoy their last few months together.
Amidst the tears, he exhibited exceptional optimism and authenticity. I had never spoken with Randy in person, but the life energy he exhibited despite his prognosis impressed me a great deal.
A few weeks later, someone at a social event asked if I had “heard the Professor Randy Pausch final lecture.” While the name sounded vaguely familiar, I didn’t connect the dots at first, and shook my head. Explaining that it related to the writing and coaching I was doing, she insisted that I view the online video of his lecture. She then broke out in tears and excused herself to be consoled by her husband.
Her reaction certainly piqued my curiosity. I later Googled “Randy Pausch” and was quite surprised to see the familiar face. I was even more intrigued by the title of his video: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Based upon a presentation that he had originally put together for his young children, it proved equally pertinent to adults. The famous “last lecture” has already been viewed online more than five million times, and Randy has since appeared on several national talk shows.
Because I’m still rediscovering and moving toward some of my own childhood dreams, and had been writing some book chapters related to this, his talk resonated with me. Coincidentally, his “last lecture” was the same night as my “first workshop” on a complementary topic just a few blocks away!
It is very telling that an individual with advanced expertise in the specialized field of entertainment technology would choose such a topic. He easily could have given a talk based upon years of amassed high-level expertise in his chosen field. However, he thought that a different type of message was even more important.
Even more telling is the massive amount of energy his lecture quickly generated overnight. Apparently a great number of us have an interest in living our childhood dreams, even if we aren’t yet doing so. As Randy modestly states on his website, “Rest assured; I’m hardly unique.” While Randy’s messages might not seem groundbreaking to those in human transformation professions, his life experiences and delivery have enabled a simple yet profound topic to reach the minds and hearts of many more people.
I also highly recommend Randy’s time management lecture. Following a few brief email interactions with Randy, I can vouch that he walks his talk in this area.
Thanks, Randy, for your inspiration.