Living Well

You may have heard of or seen the Prof. Randy Pausch final lecture. It has been getting a lot of cover (and is worth watching). My favourite part was when the terminally ill academic said that he wanted to address spirituality - 'here we go…' I thought to myself. He had, he said, "experienced a death bed conversion - I bought a Macintosh."

View Pausch's home page (some useful resources - including links to the open source Alice programming model that teaches kids to learn 3D
modelling and create virtual worlds - very cool).

You can also download the transcript of his talk: Here are some of the highlights for me:

On being refused a role at Disney's Imagineering department:
"…Remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people

On feedback:
"One other big success about the ETC is teaching people about feedback [puts up bar chart where students are (anonymous) listed on a scale labeled “how easy to work with” ] -- oh I hear the nervous laughter from the students. I had forgotten the delayed shock therapy effect of these bar charts. When you’re taking Building Virtual Worlds, every two weeks we get peer feedback. We put that all into a big spreadsheet and at the end of the semester, you had three teammates per project,five projects, that’s 15 data points, that’s statistically valid. And you get a bar chart telling you on a ranking of how easy you are to work with, where you stacked up against your peers. Boy that’s hard feedback to ignore. Some still managed. [laughter] But for the most part, people looked at that and went, wow, I’ve got to take it up a notch. I better start thinking about what I’m saying to people in these meetings. And that is the best gift an educator can give is to get somebody to become self reflective."

"The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else."

"…you just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or and Eeyore. I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important."

"Loyalty is a two way street."

"So. How do you get people to help you? You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term."

"Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap."

"Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it."

"Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?

Don’t complain. Just work harder. [shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player] That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him.

Be good at something, it makes you valuable. Work hard. I got tenure a year early as Steve mentioned. Junior faculty members used to say to me, wow, you got tenure early. What’s your secret? I said, it’s pretty simple. Call my any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you.

Find the best in everybody. One of the things that Jon Snoddy as I said told me, is that you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting,it will come out.

And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

The talk reminded me of when I read about Morrie Schwartz in Fast Company magazine:

"Much of his (Morrie's) advice may seem like common sense. Yet people often fail to act on such common sense, Morrie said, because they're either sleepwalking or sprinting their way through life. Dying provides the kind of clarity that people need earlier in life but usually lack, Morrie said. Why not practice that greater awareness in your daily life now? "We're involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going," he wrote. "So we don't get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? ... Dying is only one thing to be sad over.... Living unhappily is something else."

Get a copy Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson - from Fishpond

I am also reminded of Prof Richard Dawkin's remarks about experiencing life as it is. This is it. Enjoy it and make the most of it.


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