Many of you will be familiar with Randy’s The Last Lecture which featured on YouTube and television since late 2007. University Professors at Carnegie Mellon University have the chance to give their Last Lecture. It is a time for them to consider and share with others what matters most to them knowing they possibly have the time to live it all out. Randy knew his Last Lecture was his last, he now had terminal pancreatic cancer. As I watched I thought about his courage and bravery with which he faced the end of his life as he talked about cancer, death and dying. His “engineering problem...and now doing the best you can with limited resources.” All the while focussing on life and living, and sharing his wisdom with us. However, the lecture is a ruse. He reminds us that “it was for my kids,” He was “trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children” (p.x).
The Last Lecture is now a delightful little book in which Randy tells us many humorous and inspirational stories. He offers “thanks to my parents who allowed me to dream, and with hopes for the dreams my children will have”.
The stories all provide beautiful prompts for reflection about my own life. One in particular, called A Skill Set Called Leadership (p.43, 44), tells us how his role model James T Kirk of Star Trek helped him be a better husband, teacher and colleague. He reports that Kirk 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.” Randy’s story and wisdom spoke to me of the skills we all bring to our work, but more so, the skills necessary to sharing leadership and how none of us have skills greater than the other just that what we contribute to our teams is complimentary and necessary to the function of the team or group.
I enjoyed this book and continue to ‘dip’ into it for pleasure and the reflective prompts and inspiration Randy provides. I recommend taking time to read it aloud and share it with teachers, parents amd your family. Our stories have the power to transform lives. Sharing them is important. Randy’s story will continue to transform.
Randy also had a website which you might be interested in.