Last Lecture

April 8, 2008 at 5:05 am 4 comments

Have you heard about the Last Lecture?  It’s a thing universities do, where they invite popular professors to give a lecture as if it will be their last, giving sage advice from their experience, even if they are nowhere near the end of their career.

One physics professor was chosen to give the Last Lecture last year at Carnegie Mellon University, and found out sometime between his selection and the lecture day that he was dying of pancreatic cancer, at 49, with a wife and young children.  He was told by doctors he had a few months of good health left.

This lecture, on his life lessons and achieving his dreams, has taken on a life of its own on the internet and beyond, and apparently ABC News is doing a special on the professor Wednesday night. (The text of the lecture is there, too.)

The bulk of his message?  Follow your dreams.  Think of others. Ask for what you want.  Take feedback.  Don’t give up.  He considers his life a success, in large part because he followed his own unique path.  Not everyone will share his particular dreams, but his lessons on how he achieved them are clearly resonating.

And, he is yet another person who reminds us that life is fleeting and we must embrace each day fully.  Decide to be a Tigger not an Eyeore, he says.  Keep a sense of humor.  Learn.  Love one another.

What would you say in your Last Lecture?  Something to think about.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The World in Perspective Dandelions

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mrs. Jones  |  April 13, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    This was an absolutely magnificent Last Lecture. I’m so glad it got legs… so many people have and will continue to benefit from the wisdom of a joyful man. I’ve thought about my last lecture… I just can’t seem to sum it all up yet. I suppose that’s what the blog on Living is about. 🙂

    Hope to run into you at the beach some day!

  • 2. Bridge  |  April 15, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I saw his last lecture on Oprah, it was amazing! I actually think I should wathc it again to remind me.

  • 3. anniegirl1138  |  April 19, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I blogged about him last fall. I was surprised to see the recent article on him in the Globe and Mail because his prognosis was so grim. It made me glad for him and his family to know they have had so much time together. My own late husband wasn’t mentally aware at all, so this family is very fortunate.

    His message is a good one. So many people are too willingly to be herded. And the example he is should inspire us.

  • 4. Rene  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:44 am

    How inspiring Randy Pausch is! If you liked “The Last Lecture”, another fantastic memoir I just read and highly recommend is “My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Her TEDTalk video ( has been seen as many times as The Last Lecture I think, and Oprah did 4 shows on her book, so there are a lot of similarities. In My Stroke of Insight, there’s a happy ending though. It’s an incredible story! I hear they’re making it into a movie.


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To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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