My favorite passages from this book: *NOTE: these are all direct quotes from the text, not my words*
Part 1: The Last Lecture:
1. An injured lion still wMy favorite passages from this book: *NOTE: these are all direct quotes from the text, not my words*
Part 1: The Last Lecture:
1. An injured lion still wants to roar a. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. 2. My life in a laptop 3. The elephant in the room
Part 2: Really achieving your childhood dreams
4. The parent lottery a. Just because you’re in the driver’s seat doesn’t mean you have to run people over. b. Kids—more than anything else—need to know their parents love them. 5. The elevator in the ranch house a. Let kids paint their rooms 6. Getting to zero G a. Have specific dreams b. Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome c. If you can find an opening, you can probably find a way to float through it 7. I never made it to the NFL a. Sometimes you get more from pursuing dreams and not accomplishing them, than you do from many of the ones you do accomplish. b. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down, because otherwise the fancy stuff is not going to work. c. “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.” d. The second kind of head fake is the really important one—the one that teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process. 8. You’ll find me under “V” a. Give the gift of knowledge 9. A skill set called leadership a. He was the distilled essence of the dynamic manager, a guy who knew how to delegate, had the passion to inspire, and looked good in what he wore to work. He never professed to have skills greater than his subordinates. He acknowledged that they knew what they were doing in their domains. But he established the vision, the tone. He was in charge of morale. b. I don’t believe in the no-win scenario. 10. Winning big a. Tenacity is a virtue, but it’s not always crucial for everyone to observe how hard you work at something. 11. The happiest place on earth a. The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a change to show how badly we want something. b. It’s easy to look smart when you’re parroting smart people. c. Make “the ask”
Part 3: Adventures…and lessons learned
12. The park is open until 8 p.m. a. Even if the scan results are bad tomorrow, I just want you to know that it feels great to be alive, and to be here today, alive with you. Whatever the news we get about the scans, I’m not going to die when we hear it. I won’t die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I’m enjoying this.
13. The man in the convertible a. She had given me a window into myself. I was still fully engaged. I still knew life was good. I was doing OK. 14. The Dutch Uncle a. 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. 15. Pouring soda in the backseat a. People are more important than things. A car, even a pristine gem like my new convertible, was just a thing. 16. Romancing the brick wall a. The brick wall are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. 17. Not all fairy tales end smoothly a. Hot air balloon’s crash landing 18. Lucy, I’m home a. Automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status. b. Not everything needs to be fixed. 19. A new year’s story a. No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better. b. In so many words, they told the parents that, 1) your child is special and we understand that his medical needs are unique, and 2) don’t worry, we’ve had a million babies like yours come through here c. Let’s saddle up and ride 20. In fifty years, it never came up a. Randy Pausch’s father was issued the Bronze Star for valor, but never told Randy about it 21. Jai a. Jai handles me by being frank. When I’ve gone off course, she lets me know. Or she gives me a warning: “Something is bugging me. I don’t know what it is. When I figure it out, I’ll tell you.” At the same time…she’s learning to let some of the little stuff slide…Marriages like ours have to find their way to “a new normal.” b. It’s not helpful if we spend every day dreading tomorrow. c. There was one line in the film however, that remains with me. The apprentice tells the toymaker that he can’t die; he has to live. And he responds: “I already did that.” d. When Jai and I talk about the lessons she has learned from our journey, she talks about how we’ve found strength in standing together, shoulder to shoulder. 22. The truth can set you free a. Told police officer about having cancer when he was pulled over for speeding
Part 4: Enabling the Dreams of Others
23. I’m on my honeymoon, but if you need me… a. Time must be explicitly managed, like money. i. It doesn’t matter how well you polish the underside of the banister b. You can always change your plan, but only if you have one. c. Ask yourself: are you spending your time on the right things? d. Develop a good filing system e. Rethink the telephone f. Delegate g. Take a time out 24. A recovering jerk a. In the end, educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective. The only way any of us can improve—as Coach Graham taught me—is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. If we can’t accurately do that, how can we tell if we’re getting better or worse? b. Help students and children develop their own feedback loops
25. Training a Jedi a. 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. b. Luck is indeed where preparation meets opportunity. 26. They just blew me away a. OK. Here’s what you do. Go back into class tomorrow, look them in the eyes and say, Guys, that was pretty good, but I know you can do better…He was telling me I obviously didn’t know how high the bar should be, and I’d only do them a disservice by putting it anywhere. b. Show-and-tell days c. Entertainment Technology Center (www.etc.cmu.edu) 27. The promised land a. Walt Disney’s dream for Disney World was that it would never be finished. He wanted it to keep growing and changing forever. b. www.alice.org c. So it’s OK that I won’t set foot in the Promised Land. It’s still a wonderful sight.
Part 5: It’s about how to live your life 28. Dream big 29. Earnest is better than hip 30. Raising the white flag a. Now, all these years later, I’ve given up. I am so appreciative of my mother on so many fronts that if she wants to burden me with an unnecessary “oplh” whenever she’s around, I’m more than happy to put up with it. Life’s too short. Somehow, with the passage of time, and the deadlines life imposes, surrendering became the right thing to do. 31. Let’s make a deal a. If I broke the chair, I’d have to pay to replace not just the chair…but, as an added inducement, the entire dining-room set. 32. Don’t complain, just work harder a. 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. b. Jackie Robinson 33. Treat the disease, not the symptom 34. Don’t obsess over what people think a. If nobody ever worried about what was in other people’s heads, we’d all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and on our jobs. b. You don’t ever have to worry about what I’m thinking. Good or bad, I’ll let you know what’s in my head. 35. Start by sitting together a. Meet people properly b. Find things you have in common c. Try for optimal meeting conditions i. Food softens a meeting d. Let everyone talk e. Check egos at the door i. The label should be descriptive of the idea, not the originator: “the bridge story” not “Jane’s story” f. Praise each other g. Phrase alternatives as questions i. Instead of “I think we should do A, not B,” try “What if we did A, instead of B?” 36. Look for the best in everybody a. If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you. b. In the end, people will show you their good side. Almost everybody has a good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out. 37. Watch what they do, not what they say. a. When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. 38. If at first you don’t succeed… a. …try, try a cliché b. Dance with the one who brung you. c. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. d. Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. e. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? f. It’s not how hard you hit. It’s how hard you get hit…and keep moving forward. 39. Be the first penguin a. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. b. It’s a reminder that failure is not just acceptable, it’s often essential. c. The First Penguin Award went to the team that took the biggest gamble in trying new ideas or new technology, while failing to achieve their stated goals d. Start-up companies often prefer to hire a chief executive with a failed start-up in his or her background. The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls. e. Experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer. 40. Get people’s attention a. When we make something hard to use, people get upset. 41. The lost art of thank-you notes 42. Loyalty is a two-way street a. I enabled Dennis’s dream way back when he needed it…and now that I need it, he is enabling mine. 43. The Friday night solution a. Wow, you got tenure early. What was your secret? I said, It’s pretty simple. Call me any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you. 44. Show gratitude a. Go out and do for others what somebody did for you. 45. Send out thin mints a. I’d send a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints with every paper that needed to be reviewed. Thank you for agreeing to do this, I’d write. The enclosed Thin Mints are your reward. But no fair eating them until you review the paper. b. Sure, sometimes I had to send a reminder e-mail. But when I’d ping people, all I needed was one sentence: Did you eat the Thin Mints yet? 46. All you have is what you bring with you a. When trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst-case scenario. I call it “The Eaten By Wolves Factor” b. One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about because I have a plan in place if they do happen. 47. A bad apology is worse than no apology a. When giving an apology, any performance lower than an A really doesn’t cut it b. Proper apologies have three parts: i. What I did was wrong ii. I feel badly that I hurt you iii. How do I make this better? 48. Tell the truth a. Tell the truth b. All the time c. You’re only as good as your word 49. Get in touch with your crayon box a. I’ve often carried a crayon in my shirt pocket. When I need to go back in time, I put it under my nose and I take another hit. 50. The $100,000 salt and pepper shaker a. If I sent a child into one of your stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker today, would your policies allow your workers to be kind enough to replace it? b. There is more than one way to measure profits and losses. On every level, institutions can and should have a heart. 51. No job is beneath you a. You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail. 52. Know where you are a. OK, Professor Boy, what can you do for us? I had arrived in a place where my academic credentials meant nothing. I became a traveler in a foreign land who had to find a way to come up with the local currency—fast! b. If you can find your footing between two cultures, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds. 53. Never give up a. If you want something bad enough, never give up (and take a boost when offered). b. Brick walls are there for a reason. And once you get over them—even if someone has practically had to throw you over—it can be helpful to others to tell them how you did it. 54. Be a communitarian a. Rights have to come from somewhere, and they come from the community. In return, all of us have a responsibility to the community. 55. All you have to do is ask a. Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. 56. Make a decision: Tigger or Eeyore 57. A way to understand optimism a. It’s important to behave as if you’re going to be around awhile b. My personal take on optimism is that as a mental state, it can enable you to do tangible things to improve your physical state. If you’re optimistic, you’re better able to endure brutal chemo, or keep searching for late-breaking medical treatments. 58. The input of others a. Pay attention to any and all comments made by department chairs (When the chair casually suggests that perhaps you might consider doing something, you should visualize a cattle prod.) b. Stop sucking and live a life of abundance c. This woman suggested that Jai reassure our kids, as they get older, that they will have a normal life. There will be graduations, marriages, children of their own. When a parent dies at such an early age, some children think that other normal life cycle events may not happen for them, either. d. Krishnamurti, on the most appropriate thing to say to a friend who was about to die: “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.” e. If you cover the premiums on your emotional insurance now, while you’re feeling OK, there will be less weighing on you in the months ahead. You’ll be more at peace.
Part 5: Final Remarks
59. Dreams for my children a. As I see it, a parent’s job is to encourage children to develop a joy for life and a great urge to follow their own dreams. The best we can do is to help them develop a personal set of tools for the task. b. Kids, don’t try to figure out what I wanted you to become. I want you to become what you want to become. c. I would just urge my kids to find their way with enthusiasm and passion 60. Jai and me a. All kids need a fabric of people in their lives who love them…I think back to my own parents. They knew they couldn’t be the only crucial influences in my life. b. Jai and I work hard at our marriage. We’ve gotten so much better at communicating, at sensing each other’s needs and strengths, and at finding more things to love about each other. 61. The dreams will come to you a. It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, they karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. ...more