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October - 2007 - issue > Editor's Desk
Dying-Professor's-LifeLessons
Pradeep Shankar
Monday, October 1, 2007
What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? Some of the universities in the U.S. have mounted “Last Lecture Series,” in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks.
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture last month, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. In his last lecture, he shared his thoughts on the unshakable power of imagination, will, and childhood dreams.

As a boy, Pausch painted an elevator door, a submarine and mathematical formulas on his bedroom walls. His parents let him do it, encouraging his creativity. “If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let ‘em do it,” he said. “Don’t worry about resale values.”

Whether it is at home or workplace, we should question ourselves, “Do we nurture creativity and enthusiasm, or squash it?” Pausch’s speech underlines the fact that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving our own. “You’d be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away,” he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

Pausch’s lecture is a call for all of us to do great things. We need to live our lives for now, to learn to be content with what we have, and yet always to reach for the stars. Let us also pledge that we will bring enthusiasm to our coworkers on a daily basis.
Make sure you check out on Google video for Randy Pausch’s last lecture. Believe it, every second you invest will be worth it.

Pradeep Shankar
editor@thesmarttechie.com


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