Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I can sum up this book in one word, wow.

After hearing about the Randy Pausch story, I was compelled to know more about him. I wanted to know how he became the man that he was. For the past two years, The Last Lecture has been on my list of books to read and it did not disappoint.  I wish I had read it two years ago.

Many of you may be familiar with the name Randy Pausch. He was a Carnegie Mellon professor diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Sept 2006. At the time he gave his last lecture, he had 10 tumors in his liver. Although The Last Lecture is accessible to all of us, Pausch left this book as a memento for his friends and family.   

Even though Pausch was dying, this book is very much about living. I actually smiled through most of it! We get to learn how his upbringing influenced many of the decisions he made throughout his life. He walks us through how he achieved many of his childhood dreams. He credits people that helped steer him in the right direction as well as people that boosted him over hurdles that he couldn’t jump alone.

Pausch speaks about relating to people. He makes note of things that matter and things that don’t - and I trust that a man with only 2-3 months to live can discern between the two.  It doesn’t take long to realize why he became an overnight sensation and why so many people admire him.

Throughout Part VI of this book, I found myself trying to hold it together. Pausch speaks candidly about his kids. He introduces us to each of his three children and how he loves them equally yet uniquely.  He speaks about agonizing over the fact that they will not grow up with a father and that his youngest probably won’t remember him at all.

Finally, he dedicates a chapter to his wife. He speaks of her presence at his last lecture. He had the audience sing happy birthday to her since he felt he had not properly celebrated her birthday the day before. When she walked on stage to hug him she whispered in his ear, “Please don’t die”. I had to pause for a moment to go find a Kleenex.

After reading this book, I am renewed.  I thought about all of the reasons I have to be grateful. And I asked myself, if I knew how long I had to live, would I be satisfied with the way I am living? Would you? 


The Last Lecture

 Pausch kept a blog chronicling his battle.  I still remember the way I felt when I logged onto the site and discovered  that pancreatic cancer had finally defeated him. You can visit the blog Pausch kept from shortly after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis until July 25, 2008, the day of his death: 
UPDATED 3/14/2014 - The above link is no longer active.

Visit the official The Last Lecture site here:

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The Last Lecture on Amazon

ELEGANT vs ELOQUENT: Know the Difference?

I got these words mixed up in my last post. After comparing them, I quickly made the correction.


1. tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, design, etc.: elegant furnishings.
2. gracefully refined and dignified, as in tastes, habits, or literary style: an elegant young gentleman; an elegant prosodist.
3. graceful in form or movement: an elegant wave of the hand.

1. having or exercising the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech: an eloquent orator.
2. characterized by forceful and appropriate expression: an eloquent speech.
3. movingly expressive: looks eloquent of disgust.


Elegant: I aspire to be as elegant as Michelle Obama.

Eloquent: Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, and Susan Taylor are superbly eloquent speakers.

I gave it my best shot. Now it’s your turn to use elegant and eloquent in a sentence.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chazown by Craig Groeschel

Chazown is a Hebrew word for dream, revelation, or vision. This book was written to help each reader gain the ability to live his or her life with purpose and passion. Author and pastor Craig Groeschel promises that reading this book will change your life dramatically for the better. I agree.  And I found the numerous scriptural references to support Groeschel’s theories throughout this book to be refreshing. 

The first half of this book steadily exposes the reader to the reasons he or she should continue reading. I never realized I had so many questions – about myself! Groeschel makes one statement that I continue to think about, "You show me a person who has no motivation in life, and I'll show you  a person who has no vision. Every single time."  It made curious to know in what areas of my life do I lack motivation. It scared me to think those are the areas in which I have no vision.

Midway through the book, Groeschel introduces five major areas that must be nurtured to live out your Chazown.  The chapters that follow are divided into parts that allow you to choose which area of your life you want to focus on first. The intent is that all areas are addressed, but by order of area you think needs the most work. They are as follows:  Work, God, People, Health, Finances.

When dealing with people, repairing relationships is something I struggle with. Some relationships need to be abandoned but there are others that need to be repaired, no matter how much work it takes. How do we distinguish between the two? As with any good book, my question gets answered in the sections that follow.

I read something in the chapter on Health that made me do some additional research, "Obesity is the 2nd leading cause of preventable death."  Really!? Are we really eating ourselves to death!?  Something about that is perplexing to me.  Since 8 in 10 Americans over the age of twenty-five are overweight, 80% of us should buy this book, if only to read how the author eloquently expounds upon this topic.

Ultimately the point is: be intentional. Live your life with purpose. If you don’t have a plan for your finances, other people will. It only takes watching 30 seconds of commercials to realize that. If you don’t have a plan for your interactions with people, they will. How many engagements have you, or should you have declined because you needed to be doing something else with your time. And what about your health, have you paid attention to your favorite restaurants’ portion sizes lately?

The author makes an interesting point in that all of these areas need to work together.  We may have relationship problems and wonder why our work performance is suffering, never realizing that everything is related. Maybe compartmentalization isn’t as easy as we think!

I’ve read many spiritual and personal growth books. I just realized that none of them mention accountability. Maybe authors assume that since you’ve read the book, you’ll take the necessary actions. I appreciate this author for recognizing that sometimes we need to be prompted. Hold yourself accountable, which may require identifying and accountability partner.

I didn’t take the time necessary to fully think through all of the exercises at the end of each chapter - and they do require lots of thought.  But any amount of time spent is definitely worth it! This book will remain in a visible place so that I can refer back to it until I’ve completely absorbed all of its contents.  I’ve already written down several things that will help me become better and just in time for the New Year!

Have you defined your vision, purpose, and/or passion? If so please tell us how you did it? If not, how are you attempting to do so?

To learn more about Craig Groeschel and Chazown refer to the link:

Also on Reading Has Purpose: The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel

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Chazown on Amazon
View all by Groeschel on Amazon

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”