Sunday, July 17, 2011

My first lecture

As promised, my first real blog post is being put up today! Hooray!

I want to talk about something that I just watched a short while ago on YouTube. The video has been out since 2007, so I'm definitely a little behind the times, but I felt it was a very interesting video to watch. I'm talking about “Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.” If you haven't seen it, it's a recording of a university technology professor giving a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. He had been diagnosed with cancer, and was quite literally giving the last lecture of his life.

I generally cringe whenever I have to sit and watch a motivation speaker. They're like those motivational posters you see hanging in offices with things like “TEAMWORK!” or “SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE INTO YOUR FUTURE...AND TEAMWORK!” That is to say, they don't mean a whole lot, but you are forced to listen to it in order to bring about a sense of motivation and camaraderie. To be even more blunt, motivational speeches tend to be a complete waste of time.

Someone I knew recommended this video to me, and I knew he had basically the same opinion of motivational speeches as I do. I went in with some skepticism, but I must say I thought it was well worth my time.

The man was just so up-beat about everything he had ever done. He had helped to develop some amazing VR technologies and spent much of his life teaching youngsters how to develop their own talents in the tech field—even for the students who weren't Computer Science majors. He was laughing, he was making jokes, he was looking back at his life with nothing but fondness and contentment.

He did all of this, with the specter of cancer floating over his head.

It was truly remarkable watching Randy talk. This wasn't some guy getting paid to say a few fancy-sounding words of wisdom to a bored audience. The guy had a passion about his accomplishments, despite his ailments, and his way of communicating how important it is to just get out and grab life by the horns reached me in a personal way.

I don't want to poorly summarize his speech, so I'll give you the link below—it's an hour long and completely worth watching.

The video certainly puts things into perspective for me, as a young guy going out into the world. It's easy to lose track of where one is heading in life, or to become lost in the tangled mess that is our past experiences. I guess these would be the “brick walls” Randy spends so much time talking about, that prevent us from reaching our destinations.

It's important to stay focused on the things you want to do. As the Ricardo Montalban sound-alike guy on says, “The only limit is yourself!” And that is so incredibly true.

The brick walls everyone faces are meant to be climbed over and surmounted—the real question is, do you have the motivation to get over it? What else is stopping you from achieving what you want to achieve?

God, I sound like one of those typical motivational speakers, don't I? I'll stop before I get too full of myself, I think. But Randy Pausch has some good things to say about getting through life's troublesome periods, and is definitely worth a watch. If a man with cancer could look at life with fondness and a smile, then what is stopping the rest of us?

Remember, I'll be updating every Sunday with something new, so be sure to check in!

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