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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Achieving your childhood dreams

Actually this was the title of the last lecture delivered by Professor Randy Pausch at the Carnegie-Mellon University to an audience of 400 people. There is a tradition that when the lecturers are asked to give their last lecture, they have to think deep and talk about a topic that will have a lasting impact on people's lives. For Professor Randy, however, it would be his last lecture because he was leaving this world because of cancer.

Not many of us actually can achieve our childhood dreams. For some of us, our dreams just fade away as we are forced to confront the realities our of lives. I have often thought that it important for us to have dreams, but more importantly, I think we must not let our dreams die. I believe dreams give us a purpose in life and the ability to fulfill it makes us feel complete of ourselves.

Can it be that dreams are little goals we have set for ourselves before we came into this world? And can it be that we ourselves set the challenges that we need to go through in order to achieve our goals? Assuming this is the case, I am really amazed to see how certain individuals have gone beyond the feats of ordinary folks like me. An example is this Paralympian athlete who dreams of competing with normal athletes in Beijing Oympics 2008. Check out Oscar Pistorius story here.

I consider myself lucky to have achieved most of my childhood dreams. Sometimes it amazes me how the pieces actually fall together in life. I got into science stream, did electrical engineering, majored in communications, researched into electromagnetic problems, worked at Bell Labs, worked on wireless products, got to do integrated circuit designs and made it to US. These were some of my dreams and I have achieved them.

Actually my dreams sort of revealed themselves as I moved forward in life. I have this superstitious belief that when you tell somebody about your wishes or dreams, they will not come true anymore. So it's better for me not to say anything about my current dreams. It may be confusing to you that while I am supposed to talk about childhood dreams, I am now referring to my current dreams. The way I look at it is that you have this big dream and in order to fulfill it, you need to achieve all the little dreams. Get it?

Now, Professor Randy also had his childhood dreams. You can watch his lecture on youtube, which is the full version, or the shorter versions you can find in my previous post.

Believe it or not, I think he has achieved most, if not all, of his childhood dreams. Like he said, even if you don't get what you wanted, you would have gained the valuable experience. One of his last messages in the lecture "if you live your life right, your dreams will come to you" was both inspiring and enlightening to me. What does he mean by living your life right? He mentioned a few, such as, "don't complain, work hard", "if you feel pushed, it's because they care" and "showing a sincere apology". He also co-founded the Alice, a computer program that teaches programming and this helped raise the level of interest and grades of female students in the computer science course.

If you need a good role model, I think Professor Randy will be one (and not the movie celebrities). He reminds us the difference between people and things, that it will be more fulfilling to love people that you care than material objects. He shows us how to be brave even in the face of death. He teaches us how to be good parents and allow our children to explore their world. He explains to us that the brick-wall is there not to stop you but to let you see how badly you want something. Above all, he wants us all to know that we can achieve our childhood dreams.

Thank you Professor Randy, may God watch over you.....

Some famous quotations

When you cease to dream you cease to live.
~Malcolm S. Forbes

To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan... believe... act!
~Alfred A. Montapert

Big thinking precedes great achievement.
~Wilfred Peterson