A powerful lesson from Randy Pausch, the author of the Last Lecture

the last lecture bookThis past weekend, my wife and I got to listen to Randy Pausch’s book on my 3 hour drive down from a friend’s cottage.  If you recall, Randy is the professor who found out he had pancreatic cancer and went on to give the “last lecture”.  Honestly, I could draw out so many good things from his book but I was impressed by one thing in particular that he wrote about and I thought it would be good to reiterate.

Randy told a story about a young lady that had submitted her academic credentials so she could get into a program within the Carnegie Mellon University.  Although her marks were good, she was just slightly below what was deemed as a minimum requirement for admission at that time.  Her file was set aside when Randy picked it back up for one last look.

After flipping through it again, he noticed a personal note to someone who had helped her in the past.  The personal note was a thank you to a non faculty member who had helped her getting some paperwork in order.  The note was not to the professors of the program and in no way was considered a “suck up” note.  Just a simple thank you note, to someone who had helped along the way.  The note was promptly put in her file which got included for the admission to this high level program.

Randy read the note and showed it to his fellow colleague.  They were so impressed by her character with taking the time to actually go out of her way to thank someone.  Randy and the other professor quickly agreed, that based on her note that she was someone who actually cared for others and was not just using people to move herself ahead.  This was someone who would acknowledge others and would actually take the time to properly thank them.

This young lady was accepted and quickly proved herself in the University as a leader and someone who created some outstanding work.  She completed her Master’s degree and went on to become a Disney Imagineer.

Wouldn’t this have been a shame had she been rejected by this prestigious University?  All things considered, she was very close to the cut off line but a simple 30 second hand written note was the deciding factor in her achieving her goals which lead to her achieving her dreams.

RandyPausch(500x340)I still to this day believe that hand written notes are a very powerful way to strengthen relationships by acknowledging others.   Human beings need to feel appreciated and acknowledged.

It feels great when someone sends me a note thanking me for helping them by sharing tips or coaching them through a problem.

Just by writing one note per day you can have a significant affect on how people feel about you.  Thanking people properly is such a rare thing these days because of social networking and technology.  Receiving a thank you through face book or email just doesn’t feel at all the same as to actually receiving a personal note.  Don’t get me wrong, thanking someone in any form is great but it goes a lot further if you take the time to write it down.

I have a desk drawer filled with notes that I can’t throw out because they all mean something to me.

So do yourself a favor and get into the habit of writing just one note per day and watch what happens.  I think you might be very surprised at the response and how it makes people feel.

Marty Green

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