Randy Pausch died this week. He first caught my attention when his lecture made the YouTube circuit and then as a Diane Sawyer interview. He gave a "last lecture" which is billed as everything you would want to say if you had one last time to teach. In his case, he knew that it really would be his last lecture because he had been told he only had months to live - that he was dying of pancreatic cancer that had spread - no cure. Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon who is probably most remembered for developing the Alice project - a system that teaches students programming while they are having fun. Just the fact that he figured out that students will do really hard work when they are enjoying it, is a lesson that we all need to be reminded.
His lecture is the basis for his book, The Last Lecture, which is on the bestseller list. I bought it the day I found out he had died because I wanted to contribute in some small way to his legacy and in a tangible way to his three small children. I read it in a single day - it's an easy read. I was impressed once again with the idea that we need to spend time with children encouraging them to articulate their dreams because dreams can fuel the passion that turns those dreams into reality. I think one of the great "head fakes" in life - head fakes is a football turn that means someone thinks you are going to do one thing and then you do something different - is that if you follow your passion your dreams will come true because the journey becomes engaging and fun and worth the hard work. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had a chance to base their life's work on something they were passionate about?