The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture


It’s common for professors to give what’s called “the last lecture”, a talk where they imagine they are about to die and describe what they believe matters most in life. In “The Last Lecture”, by Dr. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, he didn’t have to imagine he was dying. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given months left to live with his wife and three young kids. In this book he describes the lessons he has learned throughout his life, while encouraging others to live it to the fullest. Below are my personal notes:



  • “The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
  • Take actio “Go on those trips you’ve always wanted to take. Live in the moment.”
  • Time must be explicitly managed, like money.”
  • “You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.”
  • Have to-do lists
  • Ask yourself “Are you spending your time on the right things?”
  • Develop a good filing system
  • Delegate
  • Take a time out
  • “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca
  • “A Dutch uncle” – a person who gives you honest feedback
  • “I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.”
  • Temperature changes are hard on quadriplegics because they can’t shiver
  • Complaining does not work as a strategy
  • We have finite time and energy. Time spent whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals.
  • “If nobody ever worried about what was in other people’s heads, we’d be 33% more effective in our lives and in our jobs.”
  • “I love cliché’s. The reason clichés are repeated so often is because they’re so often right on the money.”
  • “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
  • “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. Hand-written thank you notes are the perfect example.
  • “Hard work is like compounded interest in the bank. The rewards build faster.”
  • “Tell the truth all the time.”
  • “It’s interesting, the secrets you decide to reveal at the end of your life.”
  • “Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.”
  • The questions are more important than the answers.



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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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