Wednesday, 16 November 2011

THINK BIG : The Ben Carson Story



Dr. Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon in the US working at Johns Hopkins. He is known around the globe for breakthroughs in the neurosurgery that have brought hope where no hope existed. Carson is a professor and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

The report I’m going to write is based on what I personally read in two of his books Think Big and Gifted Hands. Basically I will center much on Think Big going through the acrostic of the word “THINK BIG”
Through his own personal life experiences and working with patients, Carson has a lot to tell the world. I wouldn’t mind sharing how I have personally become transformed by his story so far, as far as career development and achievement are concerned.

Carson and I strongly believe that our attitude plays a tremendous role in our wellbeing as well as our ability to fight disease. Our emotional state affects the hormones in our bodies. Hormones significantly influence white cells and the body’s ability to fight diseases. This means that we now actually have scientific explanation for the fact that people who become very depressed do not do well in recovering from disease. Pg.148
“A man named Tony undergoes brain operation and does well post operation. After his recovery his past girlfriend breaks up with him. The tumor grows back and he eventually dies”

This can be explained that if we allow ourselves to dwell on negatives, on hurts, on mistreatments, we will be negative thinkers.

In this part I will point out some basic guidelines that Carson emphasizes in his acrostic. For him, he decided to treat the letters as:

Although some people would object as to whether they have talents, the fact is, we all have talents often undeveloped, sometimes ignored and frequently used without our realizing that they are gifts to us from God.
If you recognize your talents use them appropriately and choose a field that uses those talents. You will rise to the top of your field.
We can also borrow Gaston’s philosophy “I saw needs and filled them” for him it is not black power, white power that matters but Green power. (God-given talent). The problems that we see should not only make us angry, but angry and committed to do something to change the condition.
In most cases we have been thinking of talents in terms of performances. Eg “I can sing”, “Play football” “play an instrument” etc. we seldom hear people say “I’m good at Math” “I’m a good reader, I can extract a complex concept from a written page” etc, yet these abilities are talents –gifts that not everyone possesses. These same talents make us unique and may push us to the need to do something to fill it.
How do you discover your talents? Follow me.
For those of age the following can work possibly, but for children adults may have a duty to help them sort out their talents.
Find a quite place where it is possible to think and not be interrupted. Then do the following:
• Ask yourself the questions below. You can also record your answers
• In answering, be honest but also generous (to do well at something does not mean you have to do it perfectly.
a) At what have I done well so far in life?
b) In what school subjects have I done well?
c) Why did I choose those subjects?
d) What do I like to do that that has caused others to compliment me?
e) What do I do well and think of as fun although my friends see it as work –or as a boring activity.
• Analyze yourself and your situation. (self reflection)
• Whether you can figure out the answers to these questions or you talk them over with someone else. Find someone whose judgment is respected, eg your parent, your teacher, your pastor, older family friend, your closest friend.
• Write down what is said by those in whom you confide.
• Compare those ideas with what you have written about yourself. Are the answers the same? What do you now see about yourself that you didn’t think of before? For 4-5 days spend some time each day thinking about these answers.

The biggest problem that is immediately at hand is that, “the parents who themselves never achieved, try to take over the life of their children and decide their future for them. The same is true for families that push their children into areas of study in which they themselves have achieved, assuming that their children must follow the same occupation. In both instances the parents are pushing the youngsters into areas for which they may have no talents. Pg 158
Just because the Great grandfather, grandfather and father were lawyers it doesn’t guarantee their descendants to be lawyers as well.
As educators we have the responsibility of taking these youngsters under our wings, to help them realize that they do have intellectual talents. Coming from an ethnic minority or a low social economic class has nothing to do with our innate ability.

If we make a conscious decision from the outset to be honest, decent, clean and not put skeletons in our closets, then we can concentrate on what we are doing. We will not have to worry about a knock on our door in the middle of the night, a telephone call, or a press conference that tells the world about our indiscretions.
Tell the truth. If you tell the truth all the time you don’t have to worry three months down the line about what you said three months earlier. Truth is always the truth. You won’t have to complicate you life trying to cover up.
Four points are particularly of significance here;
1) When we act dishonestly we cheat ourselves.
2) If we are dishonest we cannot hide it for so long.
3) Dishonest people get treated dishonestly. “if we treat others deceitfully we ourselves will get taken in by deceitful individuals”
4) Honest thinkers can Think Big. Dishonest thinkers are small-minded.
By being honest with ourselves and others, we move into that realm of Thinking Big because we not only want good things for ourselves but for others as well.

If we live by the rule of honesty and accept our problems, we can go far down the road of achievement.

Insight works in many ways. It does not have to happen in an instantaneous magical moments. It can also be a quality that we nurture and develop. Because some people unconsciously learn on their own insight, they are sometimes unaware that they possess it. It happens in the stage where we cry Ahaa!, or Eureka! {I have found it}
There are many doors through which insight can be acquired.
a. Listen to those who have already achieved and think that we can do likewise.
b. Understand that achievement does not just happen to few selected people.
c. Take advantage of the opportunities to learn from any source that can teach us.
d. Learn from the mistakes {as well as achievements} of others.
Besides consulting with and learning from experts and achievers, personal preparation is significant. In Carson’s opinion the personal preparation comes from reading than from any other source. That some people do not like to read much is really no substantive argument. The more we read, the better we read and the more we enjoy the more we enjoy reading. We cannot read too much –and most of us do not read enough.
After reading comes the crucial step –reflection. Think about what you have read.
We should try to go to those who have achieved, and especially those with similar backgrounds to ours. We can ask them the following questions:
 What brought you where you are now?
 What are the people who helped most?
 Who/what almost held you back?
 What did you do that you now wish you hadn’t done?
Some insightful ideals that achievers in life have accomplished are that:
 They decided {even if not premeditatively} that they were going to use their ability and their minds to achieve.
 They observed and asked questions.
 They figured out how to work intelligently by devising easier methods or cutting out wasted efforts.
All of us can learn from others. If nothing else we can prepare ourselves and avoid repeating mistakes.
People who tend to achieve little are frequently those who must make all the mistakes for themselves then spend so much time extricating from their problems that they do not have energy or the knowledge to move forward the game of life. It gives us a significant advantage if we learn to benefit from the mistakes of others.
Based on his own working experience Carson has developed four significant things which have become his habits and I wouldn’t mind sharing:
 Questioning the feasibility, the importance, and the need for a new activity. Feel that it is a cause that is worth the time and effort required.
 Talk extensively with more experienced professionals {for Carson’s case Neurosurgeons}
 Read the accounts of neurosurgical adventures and misadventures. That means consulting journals and keeping up with the latest research.
 Evaluate yourself with the gleaned information to help you make your decision
We must understand that we all have talents and limitations. We do not have to compare ourselves with others and think that because we are a nurse, or a lawyer, or a garbage collector that we are better or worse than a salesperson, a technician or a librarian. We need to say “this is what I am and as a professional or occupational person I will do my work extremely well. I’m god at what I do” this attitude determines whether we are successful –not the amount of money we make or the prestige our title carries.
Lastly, it should be made clear that, “having been born on the wrong side of the track does not mean that our birthplace has to remain a permanent address. It is not where we have come from but where we are going that counts.


Being nice covers a wide range of meaning such as: thoughtful, pleasant, polite, considerate, agreeable, congenial, helpful gentle, caring, etc.
“Be nice to everybody. You meet the same people going up as you meet going down”
For Carson, at Johns Hopkins, he realized that “Being a doctor at Johns Hopkins doesn’t make me better in God’s sight than the individual who has not had the opportunity to gain such an education but who still works hard.” Pg 190.

Some people have been noticed reacting to waiters, secretaries, and receptionist and who afterwards despite identifying name-tags and signs on those workers desks, could not tell anyone anything about these whom they considered just invisible, anonymous being –individuals not worth knowing.
But we should not decide on the values of other people before we knew them. We should treat everyone with kindness and giving every person a chance.

Being nice in this respect translates to accepting each person for his or her individual worth. These under recognized people can teach us, encourage us, and even be important allies for us.

Unfortunately, some people feel superior to others and treat specific class of others as being little more than human. This happens to some people especially when they append PhD or MD after their names. In their mind it is as if the degree or title elevates them above others and place them in a superior category. Yet no matter how famous they become or how much they achieve, we do well to remember that, they are still the same people they were before they had a degree before their names.

Here are few reasons why we should extend niceness to the people we encounter each day.
 Everyone in the world is worth being nice to, because God never creates inferior human beings. Each person deserves respect and dignity.
 We get out of life what we put into it. The way we treat other, is the way we ourselves get treated.
 We don’t lose by being nice. One gent once said “When I treat other people with kindness and love it is part of my way of paying my debt to God and the world for the privilege of living on the planet.”
 If we are nice to others, others respond to us in the same way, and we can give our best to each other.

Knowledge is power. There are many arguments that people speak against learning. They can generally be summarized into two sentences:
1. Too much learning overtaxes the brain.
2. Certain kinds of knowledge are irrelevant.
The first argument is untrue. The second one mistakenly implies that we need to learn only the material that we will actually use in our jobs.
All these arguments are invalid based on the following contentions:
1. We cannot overload the human brain. This divinely created brain has fourteen billion cells. If used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over.
2. Not only can we not overload the brain, we also know that our brain retains everything. The brain requires everything we encounter. The difficult does not come with the input of information but in getting it out. Sometimes we file information randomly, or tie significant bits of information to information of little importance and it confuses us.
All knowledge is important. One of the wonderful things about learning is that knowledge not only translates from one are to another but is also an avenue that leads to understanding and insight.
Some students complain that some courses are irrelevant but what they often do not grasp is that these courses broaden their mental horizon.

What you intend to know depends on what group you intend to influence.
 If your intention is to influence only those who live in your house, then you only need to know about those things that are important to the people with whom you live.
 If you intend to influence those in your neighbourhood you have to broaden your knowledge outgoing.
 If you intend for your life to make a difference in your city how can you do so if you don’t know what’s going on?
 If you want to help shape the nation or the world you will need still more knowledge and learning about what is significant in national and international scope.
People need to recognize that if we want to make our lives count for the betterment of human family we must acquire every bit of knowledge available to us.

If you have the knowledge of many things, who knows it may help you one day to cross the paths like interviews, winning scholarships, or gaining friends from distinguished classes –so called. You never know what you will be doing 15 years to come. You may find that knowing how to figure out the force field in a particular area will open a door for you that might otherwise never be opened. You never know how useful even seemingly even insignificant knowledge can be.

Aside from the question of significance, knowledge makes us valuable. When we have knowledge that other people do not readily have, somebody needs us. It doesn’t matter what we look like or where we come from or what class we belong to, when we have the knowledge that others have a need for.

When individuals who are disadvantaged by some unpleasant fact of life can acquire the kind of knowledge that makes them valuable, they certainly will have a significant advantage when it comes to equalizing or augmenting their opportunities.

Knowledge sets you free. It is like what Sonya Carson once said to Ben “if you go to an auditorium filled with the racist people you don’t have a problem. They have a problem because they are all worried about where you are going to sit. They are afraid you’re going to sit next to them. But you can sit anywhere you want”

Knowledge is a key that unlocks all the doors. You can be a green-skinned with yellow polka dots and come from mars; but if you have knowledge that people need, instead of beating you they will beat a path toyour door


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