Best 10’s: The Last Lecture

I’ve gotten into the habit of earmarking the bottom of pages of books when I read something that I really like and would like to maybe one day go back and read again. I guess I could highlight or underline, but I sort of like going back to the earmarked page and reading the page and trying to see what struck me the first time and why I earmarked the page to start with. Usually, within a few seconds I’m saying to myself, “Oh ya, that was really good”.

I just finished reading “The Last Lecture” by Dr. Randy Pausch (with Jeffrey Zaslow). It has been on my “to read” pile for a while. I actually watched the Last Lecture a few months ago with a client for therapy one day, and knew I’d want to read this book.

Amazing, inspirational lecture. Amazing, inspirational book.

One of my kids asked me the other day, “Why do people always sing about living as if you were dying, or if today was your last day, or if I were to die tomorrow, would I be happy with how I lived”? Good question.

I guess we want to value our lives. Live and love to the fullest. Not waste a second, get all those teaching moments in, enjoy ourselves, leave a legacy, be remembered.

The Last Lecture is one of those books that does make you think and is inspiring. He truly had to live like he was dying. But he also had to live like he was living for the sake of his wife and children. What a special gift he have to his family when he wrote this book.

I went back to the earmarked pages of what struck me when I was reading the book. Here are the top 10 things I earmarked – which means, they made an impression on me. Some are quotes, some are his viewpoints, some are just thoughts. All, were things I want to remember.

1. “There’s a lot of talk these days about giving children self esteem. It’s not something you can give; it’s something they have to build. Self esteem: you give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process”.

Love this. So often we hear: “Good job”, “You’re awesome”, “You can do it” etc. and while verbal praise is important and likely contributes a bit to helping a child build their self esteen, there is no substitute for the pride that comes from real hard work, and learning that you can do it.

Zandra the other day said that she wasn’t sure she wanted to do the extended French program when she moves to middle school. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think her French was good enough. Now Zandra is a smart, beautiful, funny, sensitive, kind, amazing girl. I can tell her all that until I’m blue in the face – but I know she needs to do something that is “hard” in her eyes, and be successful at it, and that will build her up. I know she can do it (without a doubt). And once she learns she can do it, she will be stronger for it.

2. “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you”.

I tell the kids that all the time. I guess I can be a bit of a hard Mom/Smom. Part of that is my personality, and part of it is because of my job. I am known in my little field as being a very straight shooter. I tell it like it is. No messing around. That usually gets results – because
often people tippy toe around things and then nothing ever changes. I have expectations, and I push push push. But, along with the push comes love and support. So, I tell it like it is to my kids too. I tell them sometimes it’s too bad I love them so much otherwise I would just leave them alone and let them wallow in self pity, or put in half efforts, or take the easy road, or give up etc. I just love them too much to do that.

3.“Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as being so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life”. Translation: you’re being a jerk.

Love the little message in this: sometimes we need to tell people hard things, but sometimes we can word it in a “kinder” way that gets the harsh real message across.

4. Views on time:
– Time must be explicitly managed, like money
– You can always change your plan, but only if you have one
– Ask yourself: are you spending your time on the right things
– Develop a good filing system (everything has a home)
– Re think the telephone (don’t waste time on the phone)
– Delegate
– Take a time out

I am a huge advocate of managing your time, planning, taking breaks, stopping to ask if you are doing first things first etc. so I loved this entire section!

“Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less time than you think”.

5. ” Educators best serve students by helping them be self reflective. The only way any of us can improve is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves”.

Metacognition is a big buzz word in my industry. “The ability to think about your thinking”. Ability to reflect on our behaviours, attitudes, thinking. If my client has good self awareness, then I often know that their recovery is going to be much more successful. It’s something that I am trying to instill in my kids too. It’s not what I think that matters, it’s what they think. If they can evaluate themselves, they can do amazing things!

6. “I know you’re smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn’t enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone else feel happy to be here”.

Smarts are important that’s for sure. But I think strong character is way more important. The two together – dynamite:)

7. “Don’t complain. Just work harder. Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. If you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out”.

Need I say more? Work harder.

8. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”.

How true is this statement?! Makes you realize how important every success – and every failure – and every effort – is.

9. Go out and do for others what somebody did for you.

Pay it forward! Treat others how you want to be treated and it will always be the right way.

I was in the bathroom at the airport the other day and a little girl was struggling with washing her hands. I went and helped her. I actually thought to myself, “If mothers everywhere treated every child, (teen,young adult or person for that matter!) as they would hope someone would treat their child, what a different world it would be. I helped the little girl like I hope someone would help my child if they needed help – whether they needed a tiny bit of help, or a lot of help.

10. Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?

Do you hang your head, drag your feet, having the “woe is me attitude” or are you spunky, feisty and ready to face the world with energy and enthusiasm?

There were so many other good thoughts in this book – but these were the ones that touched me and were worth earmarking:) Now, I just need to apply them in my life!


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