I was watching Oprah yesterday....yes, I admit it… while on the treadmill, and I caught the last fifteen minutes of her show with Randy Pausch, professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. What’s a popular computer science professor doing on Oprah? He was there because he’s dying. Randy is suffering from pancreatic cancer, and he’s passionate about sharing his experiences with others in hopes that the lessons of dying can help others improve the quality of living.
I was first introduced to Randy on September 20, 2007 through an article by Jeff Zaslow in the Wall Street Journal. Zaslow wrote about Randy’s “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon and called it a “a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.” I was so struck by the piece that I took the hour to listen and watch Randy. I am not alone. About a million others have also viewed Randy's lecture. The response was so powerful that Jeff Zaslow wrote a followup piece the next week. Randy then appeared on Good Morning America and ABC World News. If you have not yet watched Randy’s speech, I strongly urge you to. You will be moved to tears by the humanity of this man. And you’ll learn lessons that apply to leadership and every aspect of your life. For instance: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” I’m going to put that on a slide and use it in my speeches!
Randy is a role model for leaders. He demonstrates the power of being positive and resilient when faced with the worst of all outcomes. The response to his openness and genuineness clearly illustrates the kind of leader we desparately need in a crisis – someone who does not deny the diagnosis but defies the verdict. John McDonnell once said that “Adversity introduces you to yourself,” and Randy Pausch reveals a person who keeps hope alive. Thanks, Randy.
Posted by Jim Kouzes