Over Thanksgiving weekend I read a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time. Called The Last Lecture, this book is a recounting of the final lecture presented by computer science professor Randy Pausch as part of a lecture series at the Carnegie Mellon University. Randy’s lecture was titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”, and although he talked about exactly this, it was far more than that.
Before reading the book, I knew very little about Randy Pausch other than the fact that he had delivered an extraordinary speech before his untimely death at a young age leaving behind his beloved wife and three small children.
It was an easy read and yet, even after reading as many books on personal growth and intentional, positive living as I have, he shared a number of wonderful lessons that I have been thinking about ever since.
The one that resonates the most with me is about perseverance and determination, and yet, is remarkably simple at the same time. Essentially, nothing that you or I haven’t heard before, but for whatever reason, his presentation of it reinforced my own sense of responsibility and personal power.
Randy says, “Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
BAM! What a simple and powerful statement!!
While reading this, I was reminded of just how persistent we must be when we really, truly want something for ourselves. So often when we come up against our own brick walls, we retreat in fear, frustration or fury. Instead of remaining committed to our goal and increasing our efforts to reach it, we view the obstacle as too big to overcome, to exhausting to deal with or too much to handle. You know what I am talking about?
These brick walls are given to us for a reason, and provide us with an opportunity not only to grow, but to review and revise our strategy for moving forward. It is all in the way that we view them and how we choose to respond to them.
Despite my best attempts, I too find myself occasionally giving up way to quickly and feeling frustrated at experiencing yet another roadblock. Or, worse, taking the “low and easy road” when responding and making the situation even worse for myself. Has this ever happened to you?
When going through and moving forward after divorce it can feel like you come up against one brick wall after the other and therefore the challenges also feel insurmountable and your dreams, vision and goals unachievable. But it is not true! It is only the lens through which you are looking…a lens that reflects your temporary exhaustion, sadness, fear and frustration!
Randy, through his last lecture, shares with us the gifts that our brick walls have to give. That they are there to inspire us, to raise our bar and fight through our fears as we push forward and go out and get what we want. His words are written so that his children will know who he is. So that they will understand his character and the values that he holds dear. At the same time that he helps us to reframe how we face our brick walls, he reminds us that our even greater obligation is to remember that we are modeling for and teaching our children and those we love. How we move forward sets the standard for our children and informs their values. How we live our life is the legacy we leave our children, our families and our community.
His message is powerful.
Randy’s book reignited a passion in me to focus on my dreams and commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve them.
Whatever your latest challenge, it will not be the last brick wall that you will be faced with. I hope that now, when it does come, you will choose to view it as an opportunity. And that you will not only get clear on exactly what you do want, but accept the challenge as a way for you to prove just how badly you want it!
As you embrace your brick walls, please share them so that we can all celebrate your courage, strength and perseverance!