Monday, October 12, 2009

5 Big Ideas from Randy Pausch

So I'm at a bit of a crossroads. Don't know where life is going, dislike work, don't know what to do, don't want to waste my life, etc. So I'm reading a lot. A LOT. The latest I've read is The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, a former Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon who died just over a year ago from pancreatic cancer. Also, the CMU homepage has a picture of an Indian professor (Pradeep K. Khosla) with a totally sweet mustache.

Anyway, here are the 5 salient quotes that I wrote down as I was reading them.

"When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better." Page 37. This especially hits home because at my last performance review my manager told me that one piece of feedback about me from my 'raters' was that I need to do more analysis projects. I asked him if he could elaborate. He could not but said he would get back to me. 4 months ago. Now, if I was truly interested I would have pestered him, or asked some of the people who I suspect rated me. But that hasn't happened. Which is just as telling as the fact that I have never gotten that advice in person.

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something." Page 79. Right now I feel like I am surrounded by brick walls, and either don't know what I want or don't know how badly I want it or don't know how to A) scale the wall or B) knock it down.

"Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier." Page 139. I complain too much.

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." Page 148. And luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Kind of cheesy but that doesn't mean it's false. And a reminder that we rarely ever get what we 'want' (or that what we want is what we need).

"If I do something, what's the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves?" Page 160. Don't be scared to try something new unless it happens to be in Yellowstone.

Pausch also describes his life in terms of achieving childhood dreams. But I think that is a pretty simplistic way of looking at life. Which I guess is the point of the book but still doesn't really resonate too much with me (maybe because I don't remember any of my childhood dreams?). That being said, I lost my dad when I was in college so parts of the book were extremely moving to me and I really did feel like it was a very inspirational story about how he lived his life.

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