The Big Picture: Getting Perspective on What's Really Important in Lifeby Ben Carson, Gregg Lewis
In his grade school days, Ben Carson would hardly have been voted “most likely to become a famous surgeon.” His classmates had already given him another label: class dummy. Then a light clicked on for Ben—and a consuming passion for learning that catapulted him from “zero” test grades to a Yale scholarship, a pioneering role in modern medicine, and an influence that has extended from inner-city schools to corporate boardrooms and Washington corridors of power.What made the difference? Belief in his own potential, a commitment to education and making the most of his opportunities to learn, determination to make the world a better place, and faith in a God who knows no limits. Seeing the Big Picture.In The Big Picture, Ben Carson reveals the spiritual and philosophical foundations that undergird not just his dramatic career, but his approach to all of life. As in his best-selling Gifted Hands Dr. Carson shares colorful behind-the-scenes anecdotes. As in Think Big, he describes his practical principles for success. But The Big Picture is more than an autobiography or a personal-effectiveness manual. Rather, it’s a multifaceted look at the faith and vision that can see us all through hardship and failure, and stir us to bold exploits on behalf of something greater than ourselves.Dr. Carson begins by describing how he cultivated a Big-Picture perspective in his own life. Then he discusses ways to which all of us can approach parenting, family, business and friendships with the Big Picture in mind. Finally he looks at some pressing social issues—in particular, racial diversity, health care, and education—and considers how we ought to view them and what we should do about them in light of the Big Picture.Drawing on a vast array of experiences in roles ranging from trailblazing surgeon to public speaker, to husband and family man, Ben Carson shows how we can turn the course of our lives, out communities, our country, and our world by keeping the Big Picture always in mind.
Author Biography: Dr. Benjamin Carson is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital and the author of two best-selling books, Gifted Hands and Think Big. A widely respected role model, he shares motivational insights with inner-city kids and corporate executives alike. He serves on the corporate boards of Yale University and the Kellogg Company. He lives with his wife, Candy, and three sons in West Friendship, MD.;Gregg Lewis is a freelance writer with 25 years experience in the publishing industry. Gregg Lewis is an award-winning author or co-author of more than 40 books including Tom Landry: An Autobiography, The Big Picture with Dr. Ben Carson, Forgiving the Dead Man Walking with Debbie Morris, The Healing Connection with Dr. Harold Koenig, and the Game and the Glory with Michelle Akers. Gregg lives with his wife Deborah and their five children in Rome, Georgia.
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Read an Excerpt
The South African Twins--Why?
One day in January 1994 I received a long-distance call at work. 'I think you need to talk to this gentleman,' my office manager told me. So I picked up the phone.
'Dr. Benjamin Carson?' I could not place the accent, but having spent a year living and working in Australia, I immediately recognized the 'proper' British influence in the man's careful enunciation.
'This is Dr. Carson,' I told him.
'I am so pleased to speak to you, Dr. Carson,' the man said. 'My name is Dr. Samuel Mokgokong. I am professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of South Africa at Medunsa.' Now the accent fit.
'How may I help you?'
Dr. Mokgokong quickly explained that he had under his care a set of South African Siamese twins whose case seemed similar to that of the Binder twins, whom I had helped separate seven years earlier. Because of that successful surgery, Dr. Mokgokong was hoping I would be willing to consult with him and perhaps even participate in the separation of his patients.
I told him that I would be glad to consult with him if he could provide me with copies of his case records. That immediate response was prompted by more than just the usual professional courtesy. My experience with the Binder twins had not only been a major turning point, a defining moment in my professional career, it had been one of the greatest medical challenges I had ever known. At the time I had considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
And now, seven years later, from a call out of the blue and half a world away, I receive word about a second set of craniopagus Siamese twins. Of course I was interested. But I was not at all sure just how involved I should be or could be in a case as demanding and complex as this on the other side of the world.
Dr. Mokgokong informed me he would be making a trip to the United States within the month and could bring all the necessary records for me to review. I agreed to meet with him at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and we set a tentative date for his visit.
And so the South African neurosurgeon left Johannesburg in the heat of summer in the Southern Hemisphere to make his mid-winter journey to North America. Everything about him --- from his deep resonant voice to his quick smile --- conveyed such a friendly openness that I couldn't help but like Sam Mokgokong from the start. Slightly balding, about forty, he stood two or three inches short of my six feet yet outweighed me by more than fifty pounds. I could not help thinking that given his build and personality, he would make a wonderful African Santa Claus --- all he needed was a white beard.
We struck up an almost immediate friendship. When we began discussing his case, I was soon as impressed with him professionally as I was personally, for he asked the right questions and seemed to have arrived at most of the right conclusions already.
The South African twin sisters did indeed have many similarities with the Binder brothers. Nthabiseng and Mahlatse Makwaeba appeared smaller in the photos than the Binders had been, but they presented about the same degree of attachment at the back of their heads. Using the basic procedures we had followed with the Binder twins and drawing from the experience gained from that surgery, I believed there was a pretty fair chance both little girls could be saved.
Encouraged by my optimism, Sam asked if I would be willing to come to Medunsa to lead the team that would perform the operation. I hadn't been sure how I would react to this invitation when he had first called me. The operation on the Binder twins had taken months of careful planning, and our team had been composed of the best medical personnel Johns Hopkins had to offer, many of whom I had known, worked with, and operated alongside for years. Dr. Mokgokong assured me of the professional caliber of his colleagues, but I knew there was no way I could have the same level of trust operating among strangers with whom I had no personal history --- inside or outside of an operating room.
But there was another problem. When we had performed our unprecedented surgery on the Binder twins, Johns Hopkins Hospital, consistently voted the number-one medical facility in America, had placed its resources at our disposal. Would a hospital in Medunsa, South Africa, have what would be needed to pull off such a dangerous procedure? Did they even have all the equipment necessary?
Once again, Sam tried to reassure me. He insisted that whatever equipment they did not have, he would acquire --- if only he could make it known that I had agreed to head the operating team. As flattering as that was, I still was not completely convinced.
The more we talked and the harder Sam tried to persuade me, the better I began to understand what was being asked of me. And why. Sam told me how he had first learned of my work. One of his professional mentors back in 1987, a neurosurgeon named Dr. Robert Lipschitz, had cared for a set of Siamese twins around the time the Binder case had received so much publicity. Sam had heard my name at that time because Dr. Lipschitz had called and consulted with me before attempting an operation to separate his patients.
I remembered because Dr. Lipschitz and I had spoken long distance on more than one occasion --- both before and after his surgery following which one twin died and the other suffered significant neurological damage.
Sam admitted he had had no idea at the time that the 'Dr. Benjamin Carson' his friend and mentor was consulting with 'was also a black man.' When he had learned of my racial heritage some years later, Sam said he had taken a special interest in me and my career, and he had shortly thereafter read my autobiography, Gifted Hands. He had grown up under apartheid --- overcoming astronomical odds to get where he was professionally. So Sam had closely identified with the hardships I had experienced. He told me that he and many of his South African colleagues and students had also read my book and had found great inspiration in my story, my medical achievements, and my example.
Meet the Author
Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., became the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1984 at the age of 33, making him the youngest major division director in the hospital's history. He has written and published nine books, four of which were co-authored with Candy, his wife of 40 years. Dr. Carson was the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal. In June 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. U.S. News Media Group and Harvard's Center for Public Leadership recognized Dr. Carson as one of "America's Best Leaders" in 2008. In 2014, the Gallup Organization, in their annual survey, named Dr. Carson as one of the 10 Most Admired Men in the World.
Dr. Carson and his wife are co-founders of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. In addition, Dr. Carson is now the Honorary National Chairman of the My Faith Votes campaign and continues to work tirelessly for the cause of the American people.
Gregg Lewis is an award-winning author and coauthor of more than fifty books, including Gifted Hands, The Ben Carson Story, Take the Risk and The Big Picture.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book is exceptional and awesome!! It is my first Ben Carson book, and I can't put it down! I am constantly telling others about it b/c it's contents are so rich, deep and wonderful! I had a brief opportunity to meet Dr. Carson this past February, and he was amazing in person. To read his book only confirms that fact! Dr. Carson is an anointed vessel, chosen and sent by God. Through The Big Picture, he relates to the human experience of so many unlike anyone else. He understands those from the 'littlest' to the greatest positions in life. He is as wise as a serpent, as bold as a lion yet as humble as a lamb. Dr. Carson empowers your thinking through old fashioned principles that once gave humanity a strong foundation. Anyone can benefit from reading this wonderful piece! I appreciate his meaningful sharing.
I just left a convention where I paid $100.00 in part to hear Dr. Carson talk. I never knew who he was when he was introduced as one of the guest speakers. He was powerful! He spoke about the book he helped write, 'Think Big' and about his life experiences. As soon as I left the convention center, I immediately felt I had to come home and log onto the computer to find out anything I could about this man. He is outstanding and I am intrigued by him and his life perceptions. He has principals that most of us have surrendered in our lives and he has motivated me to do the best I can with the time I have left. Thank you.
I think this book is very informal. Dr.Carson really covered a lot of topics in this book. I also think that when people write a book and especially the platform Dr.Carson he had to cover a wide range of topics. Some look up to him as a family man, a top neurosurgeon,and a writer. So I commend him on his effort towards this book.
A must read. This book tells it like it is. Every parent and youngster needs this read.
'The Big Picture' is the most inspiring book I have read to date. I admire Dr. Carson, not only as a great surgeon, but as truly a 'nice' person. He is a gift from God. He is humble and he truly loves God. I am sending my best friends a copy of 'The Big Picture' for Christmas. Thank you and God bless you, Dr. Carson. Samuel Lee, M.D.
I have read Dr. Carson's other books, but none has quite brought things together for me the way this one has. The book puts life into perspective. Plain and simple. It reminds us of what is truly important. I am trying to attend medical school one day and it really made me re-examine my goals once I become a doctor, not just the acquisition of the MD. We tend to focus on one thing at a time and we must also look at the larger pucture. How does it all come together? What kind of mark do you wish to leave on this Earth? I plan to make sure this a book in my son's library.
Ben Carson's life and his mother's persistence on getting the best out of him makes sense in today's 'me' culture. He looks at the issues in the news and suggests solutions that require thought even if you're not sure you agree on specifics. He surely knows how to get to the bottom of an issue and come up with reasonable suggestions so different from the climate in Washington today.