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If you like Ben Carson's story, you might also like:
Maya Angelou,
Keith Black,
Denton Cooley,
Paul Farmer,
Coretta Scott King,
Wendy Kopp,
John Lewis,
Rosa Parks,
Colin Powell,
Oliver Sacks,
Thomas Starzl,
Herschel Walker
and Oprah Winfrey

Ben Carson can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Ben Carson also appears in the videos:
The Health of America: Individual Responsibility
The Arts, Sciences & Creativity
Advocacy and Citizenship: Speaking Out for Others

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Ben Carson in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Advocacy & Citizenship
The Power of Words

Related Links:
Carson Scholars
Johns Hopkins

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Benjamin Carson
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  Benjamin Carson

You have said that you have a philosophy for assessing the risk of a given procedure. What is it?

Benjamin Carson: Sometimes people have said that I tackle things that other people won't tackle and so on and so forth, and it has nothing to do with that. It simply has to do with me asking the question: "What's the best thing and what's the worst thing that happens if I do something, what's the best thing and what's the worst thing that happens if I do nothing?" On the basis of those four questions, I can determine whether I should do something or not. If the best thing that's going to happen if I do nothing is that they're going to die, then I certainly don't have anything to lose by doing something. And, you can go through the combinations and you can see that they really would tend to lead you in the right direction. So, it's not a matter of being radical or daring. It's a matter of being logical, I think.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

It must take courage to do something that hasn't been done before.

Benjamin Carson: It can sometimes be challenging because sometimes people put obstacles in your way and certainly, I remember one case where a very well known neurologist said that I shouldn't do something and wrote letters to everybody -- and this was early in my career -- including the dean and the president of the hospital. But, I took advantage of the fact that he left the country to go to a conference, and I did the operation and it turned out to be very successful. But, the reason that I was willing to do it, at the risk of my career in this situation, was because I had studied it very well, and I think that's a crucial element here. You really need to know what you're talking about. You can't sort of go off half cocked. So, you need to prepare yourself. And also, because I had a tremendous amount of faith in God, I asked God to give me wisdom.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

My middle name is Solomon, and I start each day reading from the Book of Proverbs, and I end each day reading from the Book of Proverbs. That tells me that God has a since of humor, because he knew I was going to have this great sense of affinity for the Book of Proverbs. So he made my parents give me the middle name Solomon. But also, when Solomon became the King of Israel, the first big challenge he had that brought him great fame was when two women claimed to be the mother of the same baby. What did he advocate? He said, "Divide the baby," and he became very well known. That's how I became well known, when I divided babies too. So I think God has a sense of humor.

During the course of building your career, have there been failures and disappointments that temporarily deterred you?

Benjamin Carson: Certainly there have been failures, but I always say that you have to learn from your failures.

Thomas Edison said he knew 999 ways that a light bulb did not work. He didn't give up, and along with his right-hand man, Lewis Lattimer, they eventually came up with a successful light bulb. There's a cleaning formula called Formula 409. Of course, the reason they call it that is because the first 408 didn't work, but they didn't give up and they kept going. I always say, "If something doesn't work out, make sure you analyze it and try to find out why it didn't work and don't repeat that." It's like people who are always late. You can always count on them being late. They never seem to learn that if you get organized and you leave 15 minutes earlier, you won't be late. They just don't seem to be able to understand that. And, a person who can learn from their mistakes is a person who is going to be successful.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Dr. Carson, what does the American dream mean to you?

Benjamin Carson: The American dream to me means that you have the ability to determine where you're going. You have the ability to formulate your dream, and you have the ability to put in motion all the building blocks that will help you to achieve it. And I am so grateful that I was born in America because I've had the opportunity to travel throughout the world, and I must say sometimes it's exciting to go to Paris, or go to Egypt or to go anywhere else, China. But, there's no place like home, and there's no place that really affords you the same types of opportunities that we have. And it's just a matter of how hard we want to work, and I would go so far as to say, in America, you can take somebody who is very successful, who has the right mind set, and you can take everything away from him and put him on the street and make him be a bum, and they'll be right back up there in a couple of years because all it requires is the right mind set and the willingness to work. And, people who realize that are already halfway there, to realizing their American dream.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream

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This page last revised on Apr 18, 2012 20:39 EDT
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