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One Book One College: The Last Lecture: Randy Pausch: Quotes

Notable Quotes

When there’s an elephant in the room introduce him.

 Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.

 If there’s anything I want to do so badly, I should have already done it.

 We can’t change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I’m not as depressed as you think I should be, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Work and play well together.

 Tell the truth. All the time. No one is pure evil.

Be willing to apologize. Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I’m sorry that I hurt you. 3) How do I make it better? It’s the third part that people tend to forget…. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.

Show gratitude. Gratitude is a simple but powerful thing.

Find the best in everybody…. Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you. It might even take years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting.

If you want to achieve your dreams, you better learn to work and play well with others…[you have] to live with integrity.

 Collaboration, treating others with respect.

 Never found anger a way to make things better.

How do you get people to help you? You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person any day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.

Loyalty is a two-way street.

Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it.

 Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.

 Persistence and hard work.

 When you are doing something badly and no one’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones still telling you they love you and care.

Don’t bail: the best gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap.

 Don’t complain, Just work harder.

 Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted

 Fun, wonder, living your dream.

 Decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eyeore. I’m a Tigger.

It is not about achieving your dreams but living your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.

Never underestimate the importance of having fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day, because there’s no other way to play it….Having fun for me is like a fish talking about the importance of water. I don’t know how it is like not to have fun…

 Never lose the child-like wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Help others.


 You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.

Better to fail spectacularly than do something mediocre.

 Parenting and kids.

 The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard is from flight attendants. If things get really tough, grab your own oxygen mask first.

Someone’s going to push my family off a cliff pretty soon and I won’t be there to catch them and that breaks my heart. But I have some time to sew some nets to cushion the fall so that seems like the best and highest use of my time and I better get to work.

I’m sorry I won’t be around to raise my kids. It makes me very sad but I can’t change that fact, so I did everything I could with the time I have and the time I had to help other people.

If you’re going to have childhood dreams you should have great parents who let you pursue them and express your creativity.

It is Important to have specific childhood dreams.

 Be good at something; it makes you valuable.

  I’ve never understood pity and self-pity as an emotion. We have a finite amount of time. Whether short or long, it doesn’t matter. Life is to be lived.

 To be cliché, death is a part of life and it’s going to happen to all of us. I have the blessing of getting a little bit of advance notice and I am able to optimize my use of time down the home stretch.   January 24, 2011