The Importance of Dying – Part 2

A week ago I posted a video of a 47-year old university lecturer and his last speech.

He is dying of pancreatic cancer.

If you haven’t watched it then check it out here:

The Importance of Dying – Part 1

The full version is 1 hour 44 mins, but the 9 minute interview is much more pithy.


How do you summarize a life in one lecture?


You can’t. Randy doesn’t.

As a counselor I wanted to let Randy Pausch present to you himself before I commented. Because I want to talk about his story behind the story, or at least what can be glimpsed from his lecture.

So many people come to me, and they tell me how wonderful life is for everyone else. Everyone else has more confidence, more success, more fun, more of whatever they feel they are lacking.

It’s not my experience.

I see people who come in and drop the facade that they present to others every day, and they are just as fragile underneath as anyone else.

From politicians to performers, from business people to house wives, I have seen them all in a very different light. My line of work gives me an alternate bias to understanding life.

I see its apparent failings more than its successes.

And so in the light of the inspirational video I want to give you this perspective too. That in all the inspiration there are very human underpinnings we all share.

Randy is not lying when he says “Don’t pity me”, and “I’m not in denial”, he is selecting. He has a purpose for the end of his life, and no time or opportunities to waste.

What you see compressed into his talk is like seeing the final work after you have put all the rough drafts into the bin. But he got there by the rough drafts, and don’t let anyone forget that when they try to emulate him.

His humor he acknowledges, tends to be black. He has had tears, and will have more. His death is unlikely to be pleasant.

He gives a lecture because that is what his training has been for much of his life. An artist might paint, a poet might write, but his self-expression is a lecture.

Could we all be an inspiration to others?

I say yes.

As long as you understand that there is 9/10ths below the tip of any iceberg, no matter how high it towers. Like Randy, at least acknowledge that the other 9/10ths exist, then ask yourself what you are going to put in that 1/10th and what flag you fly at the very top.

-Dr Martin Russell

Read The Importance Of Dying – Part 3 here…

In Decisions, Decisions

Ever been stuck making a decision?

Tossing up between one option and another?

Here’s the simple way to decide. Toss it up literally ie toss a coin.

Of course you do need to decide before you toss the coin, which option is for heads, and which option is for tails, but you already know that decision doesn’t matter so it’s easy to do.

[Actually it does matter because statistically the top face of a coin is more likely to show up when you toss it. The reason is that many types of tosses don’t turn the coin end over end, they just spin it around with a wobble that looks impressive, but the coin never really flips over. Anyway…]

Once you have settled on what heads and tails means, then toss the coin.

Watch the coin come down and land, and look at your decision!

If you actually have a dilemma in your life right now that you are needing to fix, then stop. Go and find a coin and toss it before you read on.


Do it. Toss that deciding coin first.


There’s a next step.

Notice how you feel about that coin decision.

If you are unaware of your feelings, notice whether your shoulders moved up or down, whether the corners of your mouth and eyes moved up or down, and also whether you went to reach out to flip the landed coin over.

Your emotional reaction is your best bet. Go with what your emotions decided. Doesn’t mean it’s always “right”. However it does mean it’s the choice you have the most investment in, and will be better prepared for making the best of what comes from it.

If you have bigger dilemmas in your life that you think the coin won’t solve, you can go here:

Or if you did the coin toss but can’t get yourself to trust your feelings, then you need a more fundamental shift and here’s my product for that:

-Dr Martin Russell