Five Professional Life Lessons from a Dying ManIdes Ofune 3rd March 2019 0 COMMENTS
Last week, I came across a video on Randy Pausch where I learned about successful living. Randy Pauch was a computer science Professor in the USA who delivered a lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” It was his last lecture after he learned that he had pancreatic cancer and had few months to live. He decided to give this last lecture as a legacy to his children and as a way of encouraging people to live their best lives. I read his book and decided to share some of the lessons I learned. Enjoy!
- Address the Elephant in the room: there may be times when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where there are issues that have not been addressed. This could be due to the seriousness, the negative connotation or the discomfort such issues bring up. The best thing to do is to address them no matter how difficult they may be. Just as Randy Pausch says “when there is an elephant in the room, introduce it.” What I have learned is that when you introduce the elephant, it helps everyone in the long run and eventually, people will be glad you did.
- There are no impossibilities: Although this is a cliché that has been used several times, it is true. No matter the obstacle that may be in front of you, take a step of faith. Sometimes the obstacles may seem too big or people might say it’s impossible but you could be the person to make it possible. I remember during my undergraduate studies, a senior colleague told me that it was impossible to graduate with a first class given that I had no previous knowledge of the course. According to my colleague, a “beginner” as it was called then, had never achieved such a feat in the department. Well, yours truly did it and the rest they say is history. Randy says “the brick walls are there for a reason. They are not there to keep us out. They are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” How badly do you want to fulfill that dream?
- Ask: Randy’s childhood dream was to work for Disney and be an Imagineer after visiting Disney Park as a child. When he became a professor, he heard that Disney was working on a project in his field of study. You know what he did? He called them out of the blues and told them he would like to be a part of the project. He also told them about his skill set and how they will be useful for Disney. Well, he not only worked on the project, he went on to be a consultant for Disney for ten years even as a university professor. Do you want something badly? A job, a project, a business? Make that call, send that email. Do it afraid. You never can tell the answer you would get!
- Have a great mentor: Randy had a mentor who helped him get a fully funded PhD placement in the university of his choice even after he was first rejected. His mentor knew he had a lot to offer and was ready to stick out his neck for him. It’s always good to have someone to guide you in your professional life. However, having a good mentor also means you are a good mentee. You should be ready to put in the work and prove to your mentor that indeed, you are ready to learn and have a lot to offer. I bet that mentor will go all the way out for you when you need it.
- Enable the dreams of others: on your way to the top or when you eventually get there, enable others to achieve their dreams. Give others a helping hand. This is one of the reasons we started #desertbloominitiative. To inform people about opportunities that will enable them get to their desired places in their academics/careers. To put a spotlight on individuals/organisations doing fantastic work in their own spheres, enabling them tell their stories and find collaborations in the process. What are you doing to enable the dreams of others?
The Last Lecture, lessons in living, by Randy Pausch can be purchased here
Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at email@example.com