Lessons Learned from Randy

Tribute to Randy Pausch on Google

I, like millions of people have watched Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture on YouTube. This lecture is extremely powerful, empowering and has been impactful in my life. I developed a great appreciation for Randy’s wisdom and the lessons this Carnegie Mellon professor had for us. This talk is meant to teach life’s lessons as his legacy in life.

Now that Randy has past away, how can his legacy live on in me? I am a firm believer in that everything that is put before me, there’s a lesson to be learned. So what are my, as Randy puts it, “Lessons learned…” What lessons can I get out of Randy’s life experiences, and his passing, to “achieve my dreams and enable the dreams of other.”

I thought about that a little bit more and went back to listen to the lecture. This is what I came up with – my list of 10 things I’ve learned from Randy’s lecture (in no particular order):

1. The Brick Walls are there for a Reason: Walls are there to separate those who do not want it bad enough from those with the dedication and commitment to live their lives to the fullest. It is there to allow us to climb over them and get to the other side even when we do not know what is on the other side. Reaching for what you want requires work – so work hard. Scale those walls and show that you have the desire.

Everyday life has a way of putting hurdles in our path. Some may seem insurmountable, but it is in my passion for life that I can overcome them. It is in me to excel and jump over those hurdles.

2. Disney Imagineering – The Nicest “Go to Hell Letters”: Anybody can get chewed out and rejected. It is in how you receive & accept the feedback (even just seeing it as feedback). Learning from the rejections & the failures is one of the biggest lessons in life. At the end of the lecture Randy says it is the rare person that can “cherish it and use it” to grow as a person.

3. Wait Long Enough & People Will Surprise & Impress You : Perseverance is the key. Give people the time & the space they need to find their own greatness. Guide them along their paths so they can get themselves to where they want to be. As Randy says, “Find the best in everybody; no matter how long you have to wait for them to show it.”

Give up whatever impression you may have of them. Don’t make them wrong and allow them to be themselves. You may be surprised!

4. Good Way & Bad Way of Saying ‘NO’ : It is in the attitude & in the words I use that I can influence/ get people to do what I want from them. It is a way of being that I can create for myself. I can have something worth saying but saying it to empower others (not to disempower them) is where the powers lies.

At the end of the lecture he shares something Andy Van Dam told him. “It’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you are going to be able to accomplish in life.” Randy continues with “What a hell of a good way to word – you’re being a jerk!” It was in the positive nature of the wording that this became a constructive conversation.

5. The Next Star Wars Film :When Tommy shared his dreams, Randy said “You know they are probably not going to make those next movies…” and Tommy said “No they are!” This shows me that no matter what people say or think, just live your dreams. Don’t let people dissuade you from living & achieving them.

6. You Obviously Don’t Know Where the Bar Should Be – You’re Only Going To Do Them a Disservice by Putting it Anywhere : Dream Big!! Randy was amazed that his students did not stop and “just kept going!!” Do not sell people short by my own limits and perceptions. Encourage people to give their best & they will surely do so. See people bigger then they see themselves and they will live into who you make them out to be. Create an energy where greatness comes from believing one is great!

7. My Favorite Moment in 10 Years is a Brilliant Ad Lib : “He pulls out his ninja sword and says – ‘I am dishonored!’ and just drops.” What I got from this moment is that the best naked celebrities part of life are the moments that are unplanned and are true and honest from the heart.

This is where we get to live our life to the fullest and where I can create a great bond with people. Being authentic, honest & real with myself will allow me to be just that with others.

8. The Yin and the Yang : The left and right side of the brain are essential for the success out of anything I do. The Geek and the Artist in me / the Good & the Bad are both necessary for being complete. One cannot live without sharing with the other.

9. Paint My Bedroom : Let your kids paint their bedroom. Allow them to flourish & encourage them to be self-expressed. His parents may have been reluctant, but they saw the spark in his eye and encouraged him to express his creativity. They allowed him to express himself – even if it was unconventional art.

As an architect, I know the value the environment can cause to spark the creative flame in people. And I also know the value I can create in my son by giving him the space to express his artistic flare.

10. Are You a Tigger or an Eeyore? : Are you going to live your life having FUN or not? You get to choose. Like Randy says, it is not only a choice but its a requirement. “I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it.” There really is no other option. We will all die and at the end of our lives, do we want to be remembered, like Randy, “as a person who had fun” or as a person who never allowed himself to enjoy his life. You choose!

OK, so getting ten powerful tenets from Randy’s lecture is incredible and an amazing contribution, on Randy’s part! And then I get to the end of his lecture and he throws out “How to get people to help you?” This hit home because it has been a big one in my life. Inspiring & enrolling others to follow me has been challenging. So what is the “lesson learned?”

You Can’t Get There Alone : Acknowledge the people in your life. Tell the truth to others & to yourself. Show gratitude & appreciation. Have an intention or purpose in your life to live for and share that with others. Live for others and they will give you your dreams.

Inspire in them their dreams & they will be inspired by your dreams.

Lastly Randy reveals the great “head fake,” the lesson we did not know we were meant to learn –

It is not about how to achieve your dreams, but how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the Karma will take care of itself.

“The dreams will come to you.”


So at the end of Randy’s lecture, I realize that in our daily life, we get caught up in the circumstances, the daily challenges and the hurdles we have to jump. Constantly bumping into the proverbial “brick wall” of life and constantly staying stuck inside my head. It is about getting outside of your ‘self’ & contributing to others. Being with others and giving of yourself to others. This is where life fulfills your dreams.

I have only one choice! I cannot stay wallowing in my junk. I must allow myself to experience life and to have fun while living it. There really is no other way to play it!

Thank you Randy for
who you were. Your legacy lives on!

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2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Randy”

  1. He did seem like an amazing man! His kids will have a great legacy & will know that their dad was loved & admired by many – me included.

    Thanks Holly for dropping by.

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  2. i met randy twice as part of my work. he was a fantastic dude.

    very nice tribute.

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