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Student Survival Tactic: Think Big

Why Dr. Ben Carson's simple advice is more relevant than ever.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

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February 20, 2014 - 12:00 pm
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Most folks first became aware of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he dared to speak out against Obamacare in front of the architect himself at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Carson about 20 years earlier when my mother handed me his book Think Big. At the time, I was an above-average student who struggled in the public school environment. Despite being intellectually acceptable (but economically unqualified) for entrance into a prestigious private school, my own public institution refused to allow me to skip a grade because they felt I’d suffer socially.

As if being the #1 nerd in the room qualified me to be crowned Prom Queen.

An outcast, I’d spend most of my time feigning illness or sick with stress, looking for a reason – any reason – to get out of going to school. I knew my mother was right; I couldn’t run away forever. But, I didn’t have a reason to care enough to face my battles. What I needed then is what so many young people need now: A perspective greater than their own. They need to learn how to Think Big.

And so my mother encouraged me to encounter the story of Ben Carson, a young African American boy from the projects who rose out of the ghetto mindset by seeking a perspective greater than his own:

“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”

Carson’s illiterate mother required her 2 sons to turn into her 2 book reports a week. This practice turned Carson into a habitual reader, classical music listener, and Jeopardy! aficionado. His love of learning and imaginative fascination with science developed into the desire to become a neurosurgeon:

First, 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. Second, not only can we not overload our brain – we also know that our brain retains everything. I often use saying that “The brain acquires everything that we encounter.”

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Saw him about 15 years ago on C Span. Great American.
Loved the book, you will have tears in your eyes.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice article. I really dig Dr. Carson.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read him back in the 7th Grade. I pretty much owe him, because his experiences taught me to never underestimate the difficulty of College.

A good read, Gifted Hands. Was also pro-life and devoted to his faith.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>At an age when youth struggles to find their identity within an undifferentiated egomass, Carson’s challenge to Think Big makes the bold statement that difference is not a disability, but an opportunity to be exactly who you are meant to be.

Susan, I love this! I will be reading this to my family asap. Thank you.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Humble thanks - I pray Dr. Carson's book continues to inspire. :)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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