Lessons from The Last Lecture–A book Review


"Remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough."   – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

I avoided reading (or watching) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch for a long time – not because I didn’t think it would be worthwhile, but because I thought it would be depressing…and I tend to avoid those kinds of things when I can. 

If you’re not familiar with the book (or the video), there’s an academic lecture series called the Last Lecture where professors will share their best ideas as if that were to be the last lecture they would ever give…from their death bed so to speak.  In this case, Randy Pausch was invited to speak…and then learned he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  His last lecture really was his last lecture.

I was wrong about avoiding this book.  Yes the situation is grim and brings up lots of scary thoughts, but it’s also an amazing testament to the human spirit, creativity and the power of dreams.

There are lots of great ideas and lessons in the Last Lecture – as a book review, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you this is a book you should read (or listen to) and it should move to the top of your list if you haven’t read it already.

However I thought I’d share a few of the key things that stood out for me – I’m sure you’ll have several others that were meaningful for you.

Creativity and Dreaming

It’s critically important to be practical and down to earth if you want success…especially short term success.  However if you really want to go somewhere, if you want to create a bigger picture, you have to give yourself permission and the room to dream and be creative.

From a business perspective, if you can go back to Why you’re doing what you’re doing and tap into the inspiration that was there when you started your business, you’re going to be more energized and successful (and attract better employees and customers).

Have Fun

This is a lesson that resonates strongly with me, but I find to be very challenging.  The ‘fun’ gets lost in the stress of making it all work, find the best way to help people and consistently bringing my ‘A’ game.  However I know if I could keep the attitude of having fun around – I would ultimately be a lot more effective (and I’d be having fun…which is a big plus!).

"I don’t know how not to have fun. 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."

Perspective – what’s really important

I’m not in a situation where I have a finite number of months to live (that I’m aware of), but just thinking about it puts a whole different spin on how you look at things.  Time with your family and children takes on a whole new meaning, little things that are annoying become inconsequential and in general it gives you the ability to sort out what’s really important.

From a business perspective – you are working very hard to make your business work.  But you always have to keep in mind that the real purpose behind your business is to give you what you want and need out of your life.  If that’s not happening with your business, something needs to change…and change fast.

Life is too short to hate what you’re doing.

What about the book?

I already gave you the summary thumbs up, but here are a few more reasons why you should read this book.

It will challenge in a very personal way to look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

It will inspire you to think bigger.

It will put a smile on your face and make you think back to your childhood dreams.

And most importantly, it will make you think about a lot of things – and isn’t that really the best thing you can say about a book…that it really made me think!.

If you’ve read the book – what lessons did you get out of The Last Lecture?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “Lessons from The Last Lecture–A book Review”

  1. EMANUEL says:

    The #1 Lesson in the TLL-

    In my opinion is To Never Give Up!
    Even though life is not going your way- Keep fighting.
    Stay positive.

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