I never paid much attention to the lecture that got the rounds of blogs, press, and video-sharing sites featuring inspirational anecdotes by its lecturer, Randy Pausch, who announced at the event itself that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Probably I was too cynical to even watch a video that was supposed to cheer me up, or that I had had enough of stuff like Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven, or Paulo Coelho’s overrated The Alchemist. I still think Alchemist is overrated, the others are too pa-senti, and I don’t deal well with sentiments.

Carnegie Mellon University spearheaded a lecture series which it used to refer to as “The Last Lecture.” Professors were asked to give lectures as if these were their last. Pausch, who had less than a year to live at the time of his lecture, shared valuable wisdom on how to “really achieve childhood dreams.” He passed away last July 25, five months later than the deadline doctors gave on his lease on life, and after co-authoring a book that reached the New York Times best seller list and having a cameo appearance in a Star Trek film.

Sit through the lecture for it could be one of the most inspiring, feel-good 76 minutes of your life. The video received more than 4 million views on Youtube alone.

Some random lessons learned:

  • We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
  • Respect authority while questioning it.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • Never lose the child-like wonder.
  • Decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore
  • Help others.
  • Loyalty is a two-way street.
  • Never give up.
  • Brick walls let us show our dedication.
  • When you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
  • Get a feedback loop and listen to it.
  • Show gratitude.
  • Don’t complain; just work harder.
  • Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
  • Find the best in everybody, no matter how long you have to wait for them to show it.
  • Be prepared; luck is when preparation meets opportunity
  • Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly (or by “head fake”).
  • It’s not how you achieve your dreams; it’s how you lived your life. If you live your life the right way, karma will take care of itself.
  • You can’t get there alone.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be earnest.
  • Apologize when you screw up.
  • Focus on others, not yourself.