Amy LaCombe, a popular Carroll School of Management and senior lecturer, spoke for the Last Lecture Series, on Tuesday evening, Dec. 4.
In these lectures, distinguished Boston College professors are given the chance to answer the question: “If you had the chance to give the last lecture of your life, what would you say?” The series was modeled after a broader movement, in which the U.S.'s top academics present what matters most to them in what is called a final talk. Basically,the Last Lecture Series allows BC professors to share a bit of non-academic wisdom with the student body, going far beyond what students experience in the classroom.
LaCombe’s lecture was both inspiring and relatable. LaCombe lectured on what it means to be human. She said that life is not about being perfect or focusing on the minor mishaps of our day-to-day lives; it is about reflection and self-improvement.
She used her experience as a member of the women's basketball team during her time as an undergraduate at BC as an example. During her senior year, when she felt she was in her prime, the coaching staff benched her, LaCombe said. According to her, they felt her game wasn’t up to par. She said she felt frustrated and angry towards the coaches in this situation.
As humans, our natural instinct is to blame others for our problems; we rarely see our own faults, according to LaCombe. However, in time she realized that the coaches weren’t the problem, she was, LaCombe said. She said she acknowledged her shortcomings, and worked to eliminate them. Eventually, she was back out on the court. The moral of this story is not that the clique belief that “anything is possible,” but that being human is about reacting to life’s events, not controlling them, LaCombe said.
The beauty of being human is that you can decide how you want to live your life, LaCombe said. College students are constantly caught up in minor road-bumps, like the one LaCombe experienced during her basketball career. But life goes on, and these road-bumps don’t define us, our responses to them do, LaCombe said. She suggested that we approach life with a sense of humility, self-awareness, and gratitude. We don’t need to strive to be perfect, just to become better human beings.
LaCombe’s advice is simple: take the time to reflect on yourself, and take ownership for your actions. According to LaCombe, a self-evaluation is all that is needed. It is so easy to get caught up in academic and social aspects of life that reflection on the little things is forgotten about. Rather, it is important to take the time to think about what being a good human being means to you, she said.
Additionally, LaCombe suggested the idea of “observing up” or noticing “the remarkable” in other people. In life, there is nothing more important and influential than our relationships with others, she said. LaCombe advised students to surround themselves with people that bring out the best in them, and make them reflect on their own behavior.
LaCombe described her relationship with one of her best friends in college, Carla. According to LaCombe, Carla and herself were very dissimilar: Carla was extremely traditional, and different from any other college student she knew. Carla didn’t drink, and while other players drank alcohol during their basketball initiation, Carla drank prune juice, LaCombe said. Carla was unashamed of her individuality and strong sense of self. She made LaCombe question her own decisions and actions.
In telling this story, LaCombe suggested that we befriend the people that intrigue us. Look for the people that are better than you, the people that you’d never expect to be friends with. These, LaCombe said, are the people that will inspire you.
LaCombe’s lecture was so poignant because of its applicability to our everyday lives. She suggested self-reflection, observation, and open-mindedness. Learn from your own actions, and the actions of those around you, LaCombe said.