Randy Pausch Taught Us All a Lesson About Life, Love, and the Real Meaning of Success
As we plod through our lives, wondering about and debating its meaning, just how we fit into the grand scheme of things, there remains forever embedded in the minds of millions the image of Randy Pausch giving the world a gift…The Last Lecture.
This is not a post about the meaning of Professor Pausch’s selflessly magnificent gift, it is simply a nod from one professor to another, one teacher who loved touching the lives of a few with his self and his message.
It has been a little more than a year and a half since the passing of this great man and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the message he left behind. Randy Pausch exited doing what he loved, sharing his knowledge with the world, his magnificent gift…The Last Lecture.
Ultimately, I believe a large measure of our immortality is based upon the impact we have had on those left behind, on how those we’ve touched remember us as they continue through life. If our immortality is measured by how people remember us, and for how long, Professor Pausch’s immortality is assured.
In marketing terms, we are remembered in terms of positioning and our differentiation.
In other words, positioning, how people talk about us when we are no longer around; and, differentiation, how we have separated ourselves from “the herd,” from the rest of the people, businesses, whomever or whatever we are being compared to on a daily basis.
One thing is an absolute certainty, Randy Pausch’s positioning and differentiation certain reflect the profound impact he had on the world he lived in, and the World as a whole; thus, making Professor Pausch one of the greatest men of our time. Randy Pausch’s loss is felt to this day by those who knew him…and by others who wish they had.
4) A video compilation that has since been pulled of highlights of Professor Pausch’s Last Lecture and a song by Eric Hutchinson. I have squirreled it away because it is has been pulled back by “the powers that be” and I have refused to take a chance of losing it…until now. It inspires me often, I hope in sharing it that it will inspire you!
The videos speak for themselves, enjoy a celebration of life and a demonstration of the true meaning of life, love, and success…Professor Randy Pausch.
Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr. 216-712-6526 (home) 440-821-7018 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org (personal email)
Life is funny…as in peculiar, perplexing, uncertain, difficult, a conundrum. And yes, sometimes life is also funny, as in ha-ha, amusing, and downright hysterical! Very often, it is somewhere in between.
Success in life, on the other hand, is elusive, perplexing, rewarding, frustrating, and amazing. In other words, success is the ultimate paradox, disconcerting and awesome, often all in the same moment, at times in the same breath.
Success is elusive because most people don’t understand what success is, perplexing because they are chasing something they think will define success, without actually understanding that success is nothing close to what they envisioned or imagined.
Success is rewarding because, when it comes, and regardless of how fleeting it may be, it validates our efforts and is one of the most amazing experiences we can have as human beings…providing we recognize it along the way!
Success is a paradox because it is often accompanied by incredible heartbreak, even failure; and, it tests our mettle in ways we never imagined, in the fires of life.
While exploring the rain forests of Central America we used to say Heaven and Hell were one in the same, around every bend, in every experience, in each and every moment.
The reason for this?
We had to endure incredible hardship on our way to amazing experiences. We had to endure incredible physical trials in order to get to pristine locations, places where few people had been for hundreds of years, untouched and unspoiled by humans. We had to endure bugs that would literally turn any exposed skin into sores, sores that, if scratched, increased in discomfort exponentially, all the while taking in some of the most incredible experiences of our lives. We had to endure intense heat and humidity, enough to stagger many in our party, only to jump into a river, clothes and all, a river so clean you can drink from it without fear of any of one hundred possible diseases or infestations. Imagine snakes and tarantulas along side of the most amazing lightening bugs imaginable, as big as silver dollars lighting up the sky. Imagine one hundred different tests each and every day while experiencing the time of your life, in each and every moment!
Life is like that!
Success is like that!
We often hear people say that life is a process, a progression, but deep down inside many still assign success to things instead of to experiences. Success, like life, is experiential!
Why is success experiential? Because it is a process!
That’s why people say it is a progression. Success is very much like life, in that as we progress through it we can either live one year 30 times or we can live 30 years.
Life, like success, is a process, a learning opportunity we are not meant to survive…but it can be amazing along the way. The end result is the same! It is up to each of us how we progress, how we experience the tests along the way.
I often mention Tony Robbins when I talk about success because I have been listening to Tony and people like him for decades. Napoleon Hill, then Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, J Douglas Edwards, Wayne Dyer, and others all have the same message, enunciated in different ways…but there is a common theme.
Build one day upon the one before!
*Whether as a template for a lifetime, as Napoleon Hill suggests.
*As a 30 day all out quest, repeated again and again, as Earl Nightingale challenges us to do.
*Or as CANI! Constant and never ending improvement! as Tony Robbins suggests.
The result is the same, an incremental approach to life. The method is similar, using forward motion, baby steps to build something amazing!
What About Bob? is one of my all-time favorite movies and does the whole baby steps thing in such a great way! Take the time, Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus at their best!
While we are on the subject of movies, and Bill Murray, watch Groundhog Day! Talk about a message cloaked in comedy! Do it over until you get it right, can you imagine? Can you imagine being given the chance to live every day until you get it just right?
Each and every day is a major do-over!
We have two choices, we can go on into the next day, week, month, year, decade in the same way as the one before…or we can have a do-over. Because every day we live is in essence a chance to reshoot the day before, to get it right…Groundhog Day!
If you haven’t watched those two movies, do so! They will not only make you laugh until you cry, therapy in and of itself, but you will learn something about life and do-overs! We all get them each and every day…it is all about perspective and about living each moment and building upon the one before, learning from our successes and our failures on the way to CANI!
Constant and Never Ending Improvement!
Well, enough for now! The video below will help you get a sense for the mindset I have been developing over a lifetime. I thought I might share a little of it.
Remember! Build, remember, and make it better each and every day. Your life will be amazing and success will be a done deal!
Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
Life, Success. and a Sculpture on Halloween!
As you may know by now, TuffGuy and I go for a walk every night at midnight. In fact, we will be heading out in just a few minutes for what promises to be an interesting excursion. It is Tuesday September 29, 2009 at 11:59pm Eastern and it is 50 degrees outside, raining, and the wind is kicking quite up a bit!
What does that have to do with tonight’s blog post? Nothing really, and everything! Nothing except for the fact that we seem to go out at all times, in all sorts of weather. And everything…because why would it be at all surprising that we run into all kinds of people on those walks?
Hence the picture!
And the real reason for this blog post!
The picture is the story, or one like it. The picture embedded in my brain, and perhaps my soul, repeatedly and on almost every walk for the past 3 months.
You see, we have made this walk a ritual, a part of our lives, TuffGuy and I, and it has been an education in people! All kinds of people.
Every walk is an education, except for maybe tonight’s walk. Because on a night like this, when the weather is so bad, or at least not great, there will be few if any people, smiling or not, young or old, hearty or frail. We will be alone in our thoughts.
Well, almost alone!
There is always the young woman in black. No matter what time we leave, regardless of the weather, she too is out walking. It seems we are in sync somehow. So there she is, night after night, afraid of others, perhaps more afraid of her self, she walks…or perhaps runs away…each night.
A guy nodded to me the other night from the doorway of a local bar down on Detroit Road, the young woman had just passed the bar and then TuffGuy and I, making a wide circle around all of us in order to avoid any sort of human contact or interaction. He said to me quietly, as if somehow I knew him and he was confiding in an old friend, that “she must be afraid of dogs.”
I chuckled, looked at him and said, “She is afraid of everything!”
He laughed, a drunk’s laugh, and I continued on my way, half sorry I said what I did…but only half.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine what would so profoundly affect a person so young and in such a manner as to provoke that sort of a repeated response.
But that takes me back to the picture again!
On Sunday, TuffGuy and I usually head out for a walk during the day (see YouTube Channel), in addition to our midnight walk, particularly if the weather is on the cool side and the sun is shining. This summer has been good for walks, not too hot and not too humid, so we have been able to go on a few Sunday excursions. This Sunday the weather was perfect and so we were heading to the Metroparks, a band of parks that surrounds metropolitan Cleveland called The Emerald Necklace, very nice and quite picturesque, when the full magnitude of my observations, what had been brewing in my head for months, finally gave rise to the thoughts you are now reading in this blog post.
It was a beautiful day and we passed quite a few people, some obviously on their way to or from some task, while others seemed to be out enjoying the day. The streets, so empty a few hours before (at 3am on another walk), were jammed with cars and people.
We passed an old Caucasian woman, hair still jet black and probably done weekly, not a hair out of place. She was seemingly first generation from Europe, probably here most of her life but never really letting loose of the “Old Country.” There is a large “ethnic” population in Lakewood, many own duplexes living in one half and renting out the other. They are nice people, a close-knit community, and generally friendly.
Well, TuffGuy was giving this woman a wide berth, I thought because he is people shy. TuffGuy had a very difficult time as a puppy due to an illness he contracted at a local puppy mill (read: pet store), he has never fully recovered and doesn’t really trust new people at first. A lesson is of sorts I am sure. But it was something else about this woman that TuffGuy sensed, something wrong with this lady, something very negative about her…and TuffGuy picked it up.
Well, this lady gave new meaning to the word dour!
Dour was the word that popped in my head. Of all the words, dour…but it fit!
* Marked by sternness or harshness; forbidding: a dour, self-sacrificing life.
* Silently ill-humored; gloomy: the proverbially dour New England Puritan.
* Sternly obstinate; unyielding: a dour determination.
The way she carried herself, her manner, even her response when I tried to say kind word…twice.
Dour was it!
More than any other emotion? I felt pity. How sad to be her age, somewhere in her 60s by my best guess, already old, and to be that sullen, that gloomy, that dour!
So, TuffGuy and I moved on, picked up the pace a bit to distance ourselves, and continued to smile, nod, and say hello whenever eye contact was made. I make a point of saying hello to everyone, everywhere. You never know when you might be the only person all day to say hello to someone. Never miss a chance to perhaps provide that personal touch in someone’s life, it can make a real difference!
The funny thing about eye contact?
In Manhattan, not making eye contact is a science, people really do have it down to a science. You see, people in Manhattan are constantly bombarded by people trying to hustle them…”hey buddy, wanna buy something”…that they never make eye contact for fear of being victimized.
Sounds like a social media commentary I did for another blog not long ago! Or was it for this one? Anyway….
There’s a marketing lesson there somewhere but we will save that for another time.
On the opposite side of the coin from the Manhattan ethos, the people of Belize, Central America. Walk or drive anywhere in Belize and people are always waving, greeting each other, smiling! You will spend the entire drive down the Southern Highway, from the capital city of Belize, Belize City, to its southern tip, south of Punta Gorda, waving and saying hello to everyone you meet along the way, in fact to everyone you pass. Truck loads of people traveling in the opposite direction will wave and shout greetings, it is an amazing experience,
What a happy and wonderful environment in which to live!
Well, somewhere in between you have Lakewood, Ohio, USA…a mix typical of many Midwestern small cities…neither closed in and down upon itself nor wide open and totally responsive.
The next person of note we came across was an African American woman somewhere in her mid-30s.
Jessie, she took the time to introduce herself, when all I got out of the “old lady” was a very, oh-so-subtle grunt, had on jeans and a white t-shirt, her hair was pulled back, and she was by herself; and, she was very beautiful. Striking to begin with, almost six feet tall and slender, when she smiled was gorgeous…and TuffGuy loved her! Her smile defined her, it immediately declared that she was someone worth knowing, someone it would be a pleasure to know. Of course she praised TuffGuy and we talked for a moment before moving on.
TuffGuy pranced away! It was funny because it was that noticeable…he had a new friend. So did I!
What a difference a quarter of a mile and who knows how much personal history between the two made! I went from thinking how sad one person was to how happy and joyous the other’s life must be…in the space of less than a few minutes and few more paces, my mood had shifted, as well.
Well, over the course of the afternoon and early evening the same scenario played out over and over again. I took notice of it more and more as the day went on. Interestingly, I kept coming back to the first two women, how different the two had been, and how different the effect on me was…not to mention the effect on TuffGuy!
Some people were closed in, apparently unhappy, seemingly defeated by the weight of their existence. Definitely not people you would want around on such a beautiful day, much less be around permanently.
Others? Well, some were obviously not as well off financially, but they were nonetheless happy, open and friendly…a pleasure to be around, if just for a moment.
The lesson here? I guess it is that how you carry yourself and how you relate to the world around you has an impact, a ripple effect throughout the world, often into areas you can’t possibly even be aware of. It is in a very real sense the Butterfly Effect in action.
Think about it for a moment if you will:
A lady smiles for a camera and somewhere in the world a man uses the picture, taken by another person, to bring home a point about the beauty inherent in a smile, the beauty we all have within us…if we will only let it out.
And the power of a single act, a smile or a frown, and how on another day at another time a person is writing about how that seemingly insignificant act can be have such a profound and lasting effect that another was willing to write about it and share his feelings on the subject with the rest of the world.
The Butterfly Effect!
We affect the environment around us, the people around us, in very significant ways each and every day, in ways we can’t possibly conceive of, because the full impact is beyond our reach, even beyond our understanding. Significantly, our actions often determine whether or not people choose to interact with us at all. Our kindness, our gratitude, our mental attitude (positive or negative), our empathy, our compassion, and a myriad of other qualities and characteristics all shape our environment, physical and social, and determine our success in life. So above all, be positive! Negativity is a disease, it is contagious, it is terminal, and it will kill your relationships with others and your chance for anything remotely resembling success in your personal and business lives.
Fear of fear! Fear of life! Fear of action! Fear of failure! Fear of self! Fear of fear!
It is incredible to me how many people are stuck in their own fear, their own inertia…never to experience life to its fullest!
Fear of silence, or listening to one’s own thoughts, one’s own feeling on the way to something great!
Is it easier to just pump up the volume and muddle through? Why is it so difficult for some to be alone with their own thoughts, taking in the quiet and the solitude of the moment…perhaps contemplating something great?
Life rushes past us as we keep our heads down, fail to connect, fail to communicate…fail!
The outside often reflects the inside…but not always. I have discovered gems in the most unlikely places, learned from the most improbable situations. By keeping a sense of openness, gratitude, and above all a sense of humor I have taken the ups and downs of life and gained immeasurably from the worst situations!
What I no longer bow to is fear, worry, anxiety or depression…they are such a waste of energy, of life!
As I walk each and every night with my little buddy TuffGuy, I experience something new, something amazing, something beautiful…even if it is just Jupiter in a new position or the doorman at the local bar telling me about his birds.
I almost missed it all and now I miss nothing, I take it all in on my way to where I am going…somewhere new, somewhere amazing, somewhere beautiful, somewhere different from the night before.
On my way to LIFE!
Wouldn’t it be terrible to get to the end and have to say:
“Huh? What? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that…I had my headphones on!”
“Huh? What? I’m sorry, I didn’t see that, I was too busy to look up!”
“Huh? What? I’m sorry, I missed that, I was too busy working to watch my kids grow up!”
“Huh? What? I’m sorry, I missed that, I was too busy working to experience my life!”
You don’t want to get to the end of your life and, on your death bed, mutter the words of the Wal-Mart icon, one of the wealthiest men in the world, Sam Walton:
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