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Brick walls


Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
Randy Pausch: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

I don’t know about you but I have come across so many brick walls in my life. Some of them have been unbelievably high as I tackled life events that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, ever!

Mastering a brick wall takes courage, strength, vision, belief, determination, and hope, just for starters.

Today as I checked in with my blogging friends I was reminded of the power of brick walls to unleash their power within and get right down to the nuts and bolts of what life is all about.

I ‘d like to thank Patti Digh of 37 Days for introducing Randy Pausch into my life.

A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime
September 20, 2007; Page D1

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. “Make me earn it,” he said.

They had come to see him give what was billed as his “last lecture.” This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama 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. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

What did Randy choose to talk about? Childhood dreams and helping young people actually achieve them.

What makes this last lecture even more poignant and meaningful is that Randy is dying and this truly may be his last lecture, although I believe it will be one that will impact many more people than he ever could have imagined. What an incredible achievement for any teacher – to reach beyond your classroom and make a difference to people you would never ordinarily meet under any circumstance. Randy’s words will without doubt have a far reaching impact.

Late in the summer of 2006, I started having some unusual symptoms, culminating with jaundice. Scans revealed it was pancreatic cancer. At this time, my wife Jai and I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a three month old baby.

In August of 2007, we learned that the cancer had returned, having metastasized to my liver and spleen, which is a death sentence. At that time, the doctors gave me an estimate of having 3-6 months of healthy living left.

My wife Jai has been an incredible source of stability and courage through all this. We both agree that “you can’t control the cards you’re dealt, just how you play the hand.”

Randy Pausch, August 2007

Randy is considered a prominent teacher of video game and virtual-reality technology. He is Director of the Alice (a 3-D authoring system) software project. His comments in relation to how he will live on thanks to the Internet are …

Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don’t get to step foot in it. That’s OK. I will live on in Alice.

Here is a 10 minute abridged version of Randy’s lecture from his appearance on Oprah.

If you want more here is the full 76 minute version of Randy’s lecture:

More information, including the transcript of this lecture, is available from the Carnegie Mellon University web site.

Whichever version you look at doesn’t matter but please do take the time to listen to Randy. I am pretty certain this man will have an impact on you in some way. He is a wonderful example of the power of attitude.

There are so many incredible people out there in the world. I am always reminded that no matter how big that brick wall may seem to me other people have to tackle even bigger walls. I feel humbled by other people’s realities and motivated by their stories. I feel priviledged to have been able to hear this man’s story and I thank him for sharing it. Yes, I shed tears as I watched Randy talk; yet there was a joy inside. He is living and not wasting the time he does have. He is leaving a legacy behind for his children and they will be proud to know he is their dad. He is also leaving something to the rest of us. I feel so blessed that we are able to touch each other’s lives either virtually or in reality. It doesn’t matter how this connection happens, what matters is that we connect.

Our challenge is to think about: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

Do you know what you would say?

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2 Responses to “Brick walls”

  1. […] am in awe of Randy Pausch. Time is of the essence for this man, and his family, as he fights terminal pancreatic cancer; yet […]

  2. […] have written about Randy Pausch a few times in my blog. I feel as though he is a personal acquaintance yet I have never met this man and I never […]

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