Randy Pausch, a computer science professor diagnosed with terminal cancer literally gave his last lecture a decade ago. It wasn’t about dying, it was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling other’s dreams, and seizing every moment. Essentially, it was about living and living with intention. Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
I have a friend who gave birth to a long-awaited child after several painful losses. Her ability to keep going in labor and delivery, even when she felt she could go no more, astonished her. When she arrived at what appeared to be a wall — her limit — she would find a way through it. On the other side of delivery, not only did she have a beautiful baby boy but also a personal breakthrough in understanding her own strength and stamina. There were times in her life that she’d decided she wasn’t strong enough. Today she realizes she has a reservoir of strength that has gone untapped. Intentional living requires resilience.
In Pausch’s last lecture he states, “At every disappointment, remember that experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Failure is not just acceptable, it’s often essential. A friend of mine, a mother of three, lives by the rule that everyone gets a “Do-Over.” When someone has a meltdown or a knee jerk reaction, they are asked if they’d like a do-over. At which point they return to the scene and walk back through the scenario asking the child (or the parent — parents need do-overs, too), “How would you like to respond this time?” In the middle of a do-over, this family gets to put into action all that they learned from the previous experience. Intentional living requires persistence.
Enabling Other’s Dreams
Most of us have one thing in common — we want to be significant. It sounds complicated and difficult, costly and overwhelming, time consuming and energy zapping. And yet, it’s really none of that. Here is a simple formula for significance: make a difference with others wherever we are with whatever we have, every day. Recently, I had the opportunity to turn to the women next to me, a total stranger, and express deep gratitude to her. It pierced her heart so deeply she stammered for a moment before she could formulate the words, “Thank you.” It was an unexpected significant moment for both of us. Significance comes when we invest in those around us.
Seizing Every Moment
It was a beautiful day, crisp air mixed with warm sun shine. The older gentleman had the top down on his convertible and the Frank Sinatra music up. He was tapping his fingers on the outside of the driver’s door and bobbing his head to the beat, all while soaking up the sun and breathing in the fresh air. The other drivers where zipping by focused on their final destination and missing the moment. If we’d had the opportunity to ask them about the drive, they would have given us a list of excuses about why they could not be in the moment. Intentionality is being present in the moment.
If you want to really live, Randy Pausch knows the secret — overcome obstacles, enable other’s dreams, and seize the moment. If your life isn’t as compelling as you want it to be, change it! No, it’s not easy but it is that simple.