I recently downloaded the shortened Oprah version of Randy Pausch’s LAST LECTURE for a leadership workshop my school was doing….I’ve been reflecting on it and while it may not be a popular thing to say, I have some criticism of this of this pop culture phenomenon.
This is set up as lessons learned about life and following your dreams from a man who is going to die soon(and did) which is fine….However, every one of Pausch’s anecdotes and examples refer back to himself and basically, whether he meant it or not, he is saying I am a great and special person which very well be true but that’s not a great life lesson in my opinion.
For example, he tells the story of working well with others but that turns into what a great guy he was because he took the graduate students who helped him with his PhD research to Disneyland and paid for everything.
Another example, he explains how he made his niece not feel uncomfortable about damaging his new car so she was okay about throwing up in it later and he did not get upset.
There is nothing wrong with any of these stories but this is not the approach I would use in a similar situation.
Too many times, Pausch falls into what the Buddhists call “the trap of self”….America with its sick celebrity addled culture and self-mythologizing, has replaced normal conversation with statements about self followed by other people making statements about themselves….This is not what the world needs….In fact what the world needs in this day and age is less the cult of individualism, more let’s work together to fix things.
America and the world need more humility and less ego….We can see that in every problem that is currently faced from global warming to terrorism and the Middle East.
Enough biography as life lesson! I would say….More I celebrate myself in the Walt Whitman way in that how about all of us have something to contribute and are part of a whole?
I salute Randy Pausch’s bravery and the fact he wanted to leave behind a record for his young children who will never get to know him….This is however not what the world needs today- a personal project that has been blown up to national proportions all to further establish the mindset of me, myself and I.