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Community, values and childhood dreams

That’s what my book club talked about last night. The book: ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. Pausch was a professor of computer science, human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University. His last lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in September 2007 became an Internet sensation. He talked to his coauthor on his cell phone as he took bike rides to create the book. Pausch died at age 47 in July 2008 from pancreatic cancer.

Building community
Randy did that in his courses by having students work in groups and the groups changed every several weeks. The students had to relate to one another in person, people of different majors and different backgrounds and experiences. They evaluated one another.
“Rights have to come from somewhere, and they come from the community. In return, all of us have a responsibility to the community….Everyone has to contribute to the common good. To not do so can be described in one word: selfish…When we’re connected to others, we become better people.”

Living your values
• Have dignity.
• Play fair.
• Be inquisitive.
• Be charitable. “There is more than one way to measure profits and losses. On every level, institutions can and should have a heart.”
• Encourage creativity and enthusiasm.
• “There is a skill set called ‘leadership.’…(he) knew how to delegate, had the passion to inspire and …established the vision, the tone. He was in charge of morale…..(he) knew what he didn’t know, was perfectly willing to admit it, and didn’t want to leave until he understood. That’s heroic to me.”
• Find a Dutch uncle, someone who gives you honest feedback.
• There’s a real power in humility.
• “The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone else feel happy to be here.”
• Do respectful, considerate things that will be appreciated by the recipient. Only good things can result.
• Tell the truth all the time. “..my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.”

Achieving your childhood dreams
Do any of us remember our childhood dreams? How long is childhood—end of grade school, high school?


Take two hours and read the book. It’s entertaining and insightful. And so much will make you think about matters of civility and how to savor life and the lessons along the way.

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