Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence

Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence


$15.29 $16.99 Save 10% Current price is $15.29, Original price is $16.99. You Save 10%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Tuesday, October 23  Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence by Ben Carson

This book is for you if your life is a series of shattered dreams. This book is for you if you have no dreams at all. It’s for you if you’ve bought the lie that you’ll never amount to anything. That’s not true. Your life is BIG—far bigger than you’ve imagined. Inside these pages lie the keys to recognizing the full potential of your life. You won’t necessarily become a millionaire (though you might), but you will attain a life that is rewarding, significant, and more fruitful than you ever thought possible. The author of this book knows about hardship. Ben Carson grew up in inner-city Detroit. His mother was illiterate. His father had left the family. His grade-school classmates considered Ben stupid. He struggled with a violent temper. In every respect, Ben’s harsh circumstances seemed only to point to a harsher future and a bad end. But that’s not what happened. By applying the principles in this book, Ben rose from his tough life to one of amazing accomplishments and international renown. He learned that he had potential, he learned how to unleash it, and he did. You can too. Put the principles in this book in motion. Things won’t change overnight, but they will change. You can transform your life into one you’ll love, bigger than you’ve ever dreamed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310343363
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/02/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 261,988
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.

Cecil Murphey, author of 112 books, has also assisted well-known personalities in writing their biographies.

Read an Excerpt

Think Big

Unleashing your Potential for Excellence

By Benjamin Carson, Cecil Murphey, Mary McCormick


Copyright © 1992 Benjamin Carson, M.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-34336-3


Do It Better!

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are true levelers. They give to all who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race.

William Ellery Channing

Benjamin, is this your report card?" my mother asked as she picked up the folded white card from the table.

"Uh, yeah," I said, trying to sound casual. Too ashamed to hand it to her, I had dropped it on the table, hoping that she wouldn't notice until after I went to bed.

It was the first report card I had received from Higgins Elementary School since we had moved back from Boston to Detroit, only a few months earlier.

I had been in the fifth grade not even two weeks before everyone considered me the dumbest kid in the class and frequently made jokes about me. Before long I too began to feel as though I really was the most stupid kid in fifth grade. Despite Mother's frequently saying, "You're smart, Bennie. You can do anything you want to do," I did not believe her.

No one else in school thought I was smart, either.

Now, as Mother examined my report card, she asked, "What's this grade in reading?" (Her tone of voice told me that I was in trouble.) Although I was embarrassed, I did not think too much about it. Mother knew that I wasn't doing well in math, but she did not know I was doing so poorly in every subject.

While she slowly read my report card, reading everything one word at a time, I hurried into my room and started to get ready for bed. A few minutes later, Mother came into my bedroom.

"Benjamin," she said, "are these your grades?" She held the card in front of me as if I hadn't seen it before.

"Oh, yeah, but you know, it doesn't mean much."

"No, that's not true, Bennie. It means a lot."

"Just a report card."

"But it's more than that."

Knowing I was in for it now, I prepared to listen, yet I was not all that interested. I did not like school very much and there was no reason why I should. Inasmuch as I was the dumbest kid in the class, what did I have to look forward to? The others laughed at me and made jokes about me every day.

"Education is the only way you're ever going to escape poverty," she said. "It's the only way you're ever going to get ahead in life and be successful. Do you understand that?"

"Yes, Mother," I mumbled.

"If you keep on getting these kinds of grades you're going to spend the rest of your life on skid row, or at best sweeping floors in a factory. That's not the kind of life that I want for you. That's not the kind of life that God wants for you."

I hung my head, genuinely ashamed. My mother had been raising me and my older brother, Curtis, by herself. Having only a third-grade education herself, she knew the value of what she did not have. Daily she drummed into Curtis and me that we had to do our best in school.

"You're just not living up to your potential," she said. "I've got two mighty smart boys and I know they can do better."

I had done my best—at least I had when I first started at Higgins Elementary School. How could I do much when I did not understand anything going on in our class?

In Boston we had attended a parochial school, but I hadn't learned much because of a teacher who seemed more interested in talking to another female teacher than in teaching us. Possibly, this teacher was not solely to blame—perhaps I wasn't emotionally able to learn much. My parents had separated just before we went to Boston, when I was eight years old. I loved both my mother and father and went through considerable trauma over their separating. For months afterward, I kept thinking that my parents would get back together, that my daddy would come home again the way he used to, and that we could be the same old family again—but he never came back. Consequently, we moved to Boston and lived with Aunt Jean and Uncle William Avery in a tenement building for two years until Mother had saved enough money to bring us back to Detroit.

Mother kept shaking the report card at me as she sat on the side of my bed. "You have to work harder. You have to use that good brain that God gave you, Bennie. Do you understand that?"

"Yes, Mother." Each time she paused, I would dutifully say those words.

"I work among rich people, people who are educated," she said. "I watch how they act, and I know they can do anything they want to do. And so can you." She put her arm on my shoulder. "Bennie, you can do anything they can do—only you can do it better!"

Mother had said those words before. Often. At the time, they did not mean much to me. Why should they? I really believed that I was the dumbest kid in fifth grade, but of course, I never told her that.

"I just don't know what to do about you boys," she said. "I'm going to talk to God about you and Curtis." She paused, stared into space, then said (more to herself than to me), "I need the Lord's guidance on what to do. You just can't bring in any more report cards like this."

As far as I was concerned, the report card matter was over.

The next day was like the previous ones—just another bad day in school, another day of being laughed at because I did not get a single problem right in arithmetic and couldn't get any words right on the spelling test. As soon as I came home from school, I changed into play clothes and ran outside. Most of the boys my age played softball, or the game I liked best, "Tip the Top."

We played Tip the Top by placing a bottle cap on one of the sidewalk cracks. Then taking a ball—any kind that bounced —we'd stand on a line and take turns throwing the ball at the bottle top, trying to flip it over. Whoever succeeded got two points. If anyone actually moved the cap more than a few inches, he won five points. Ten points came if he flipped it into the air and it landed on the other side.

When it grew dark or we got tired, Curtis and I would finally go inside and watch TV. The set stayed on until we went to bed. Because Mother worked long hours, she was never home until just before we went to bed. Sometimes I would awaken when I heard her unlocking the door.

Two evenings after the incident with the report card, Mother came home about an hour before our bedtime. Curtis and I were sprawled out, watching TV. She walked across the room, snapped off the set, and faced both of us. "Boys," she said, "you're wasting too much of your time in front of that television. You don't get an education from staring at television all the time."

Before either of us could make a protest, she told us that she had been praying for wisdom. "The Lord's told me what to do," she said. "So from now on, you will not watch television, except for two preselected programs each week."

"Just two programs?" I could hardly believe she would say such a terrible thing. "That's not—"

"And only after you've done your homework. Furthermore, you don't play outside after school, either, until you've done all your homework."

"Everybody else plays outside right after school," I said, unable to think of anything except how bad it would be if I couldn't play with my friends. "I won't have any friends if I stay in the house all the time—"

"That may be," Mother said, "but everybody else is not going to be as successful as you are—"

"But, Mother—"

"This is what we're going to do. I asked God for wisdom, and this is the answer I got."

I tried to offer several other arguments, but Mother was firm. I glanced at Curtis, expecting him to speak up, but he did not say anything. He lay on the floor, staring at his feet.

"Don't worry about everybody else. The whole world is full of 'everybody else,' you know that? But only a few make a significant achievement."

The loss of TV and play time was bad enough. I got up off the floor, feeling as if everything was against me. Mother wasn't going to let me play with my friends, and there would be no more television—almost none, anyway. She was stopping me from having any fun in life.

"And that isn't all," she said. "Come back, Bennie."

I turned around, wondering what else there could be.

"In addition," she said, "to doing your homework, you have to read two books from the library each week. Every single week."

"Two books? Two?" Even though I was in fifth grade, I had never read a whole book in my life.

"Yes, two. When you finish reading them, you must write me a book report just like you do at school. You're not living up to your potential, so I'm going to see that you do."

Usually Curtis, who was two years older, was the more rebellious. But this time he seemed to grasp the wisdom of what Mother said. He did not say one word.

She stared at Curtis. "You understand?"

He nodded.

"Bennie, is it clear?"

"Yes, Mother." I agreed to do what Mother told me—it wouldn't have occurred to me not to obey—but I did not like it. Mother was being unfair and demanding more of us than other parents did.

* * *

The following day was Thursday. After school, Curtis and I walked to the local branch of the library. I did not like it much, but then I had not spent that much time in any library.

We both wandered around a little in the children's section, not having any idea about how to select books or which books we wanted to check out.

The librarian came over to us and asked if she could help. We explained that both of us wanted to check out two books.

"What kind of books would you like to read?" the librarian asked.

"Animals," I said after thinking about it. "Something about animals."

"I'm sure we have several that you'd like." She led me over to a section of books. She left me and guided Curtis to another section of the room. I flipped through the row of books until I found two that looked easy enough for me to read. One of them, Chip, the Dam Builder—about a beaver—was the first one I had ever checked out. As soon as I got home, I started to read it. It was the first book I ever read all the way through even though it took me two nights. Reluctantly I admitted afterward to Mother that I really had liked reading about Chip.

Within a month I could find my way around the children's section like someone who had gone there all his life. By then the library staff knew Curtis and me and the kind of books we chose. They often made suggestions. "Here's a delightful book about a squirrel," I remember one of them telling me.

As she told me part of the story, I tried to appear indifferent, but as soon as she handed it to me, I opened the book and started to read.

Best of all, we became favorites of the librarians. When new books came in that they thought either of us would enjoy, they held them for us. Soon I became fascinated as I realized that the library had so many books—and about so many different subjects.

After the book about the beaver, I chose others about animals —all types of animals. I read every animal story I could get my hands on. I read books about wolves, wild dogs, several about squirrels, and a variety of animals that lived in other countries. Once I had gone through the animal books, I started reading about plants, then minerals, and finally rocks.

My reading books about rocks was the first time the information ever became practical to me. We lived near the railroad tracks, and when Curtis and I took the route to school that crossed by the tracks, I began paying attention to the crushed rock that I noticed between the ties.

As I continued to read more about rocks, I would walk along the tracks, searching for different kinds of stones, and then see if I could identify them.

Often I would take a book with me to make sure that I had labeled each stone correctly.

"Agate," I said as I threw the stone. Curtis got tired of my picking up stones and identifying them, but I did not care because I kept finding new stones all the time. Soon it became my favorite game to walk along the tracks and identify the varieties of stones. Although I did not realize it, within a very short period of time, I was actually becoming an expert on rocks.

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man; nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out. After an era of darkness, new races build others; but in the world of books are volumes that live on still as young and fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead.

—Clarence Day

Two things happened in the second half of fifth grade that convinced me of the importance of reading books.

First, our teacher, Mrs. Williamson, had a spelling bee every Friday afternoon. We'd go through all the words we'd had so far that year. Sometimes she also called out words that we were supposed to have learned in fourth grade. Without fail, I always went down on the first word.

One Friday, though, Bobby Farmer, whom everyone acknowledged as the smartest kid in our class, had to spell "agriculture" as his final word. As soon as the teacher pronounced his word, I thought, I can spell that word. Just the day before, I had learned it from reading one of my library books. I spelled it under my breath, and it was just the way Bobby spelled it.

If I can spell "agriculture," I'll bet I can learn to spell any other word in the world. I'll bet I can learn to spell better than Bobby Farmer.

Just that single word, "agriculture," was enough to give me hope.

The following week, a second thing happened that forever changed my life. When Mr. Jaeck, the science teacher, was teaching us about volcanoes, he held up an object that looked like a piece of black, glass-like rock. "Does anybody know what this is? What does it have to do with volcanoes?"

Immediately, because of my reading, I recognized the stone. I waited, but none of my classmates raised their hands. I thought, This is strange. Not even the smart kids are raising their hands. I raised my hand.

"Yes, Benjamin," he said.

I heard snickers around me. The other kids probably thought it was a joke, or that I was going to say something stupid.

"Obsidian," I said.

"That's right!" He tried not to look startled, but it was obvious he hadn't expected me to give the correct answer.

"That's obsidian," I said, "and it's formed by the super-cooling of lava when it hits the water." Once I had their attention and realized I knew information no other student had learned, I began to tell them everything I knew about the subject of obsidian, lava, lava flow, supercooling, and compacting of the elements.

When I finally paused, a voice behind me whispered, "Is that Bennie Carson?"

"You're absolutely correct," Mr. Jaeck said and he smiled at me. If he had announced that I'd won a million-dollar lottery, I couldn't have been more pleased and excited.

"Benjamin, that's absolutely, absolutely right," he repeated with enthusiasm in his voice. He turned to the others and said, "That is wonderful! Class, this is a tremendous piece of information Benjamin has just given us. I'm very proud to hear him say this."

For a few moments, I tasted the thrill of achievement. I recall thinking, Wow, look at them. They're all looking at me with admiration. Me, the dummy! The one everybody thinks is stupid. They're looking at me to see if this is really me speaking.

Maybe, though, it was I who was the most astonished one in the class. Although I had been reading two books a week because Mother told me to, I had not realized how much knowledge I was accumulating. True, I had learned to enjoy reading, but until then I hadn't realized how it connected with my schoolwork. That day—for the first time—I realized that Mother had been right. Reading is the way out of ignorance, and the road to achievement. I did not have to be the class dummy anymore.

For the next few days, I felt like a hero at school. The jokes about me stopped. The kids started to listen to me. I'm starting to have fun with this stuff.

As my grades improved in every subject, I asked myself, "Ben, is there any reason you can't be the smartest kid in the class? If you can learn about obsidian, you can learn about social studies and geography and math and science and everything."

That single moment of triumph pushed me to want to read more. From then on, it was as though I could not read enough books. Whenever anyone looked for me after school, they could usually find me in my bedroom—curled up, reading a library book—for a long time, the only thing I wanted to do. I had stopped caring about the TV programs I was missing; I no longer cared about playing Tip the Top or baseball anymore. I just wanted to read.

In a year and a half—by the middle of sixth grade—I had moved to the top of the class. Unfortunately, I had not been content just to read and to learn. I also felt I had to let everyone else in the world know how brilliant I had become. At the time, I honestly believed that I knew more than any of the other kids in my classroom. I thought I was brilliant; actually, I was quite obnoxious.

This important fact did not start getting through to me until I was in the ninth grade. One day I asked one of my classmates, who had never treated me well no matter how hard I tried to be friendly, "Why are you so hostile? Why do you hate me?"


Excerpted from Think Big by Benjamin Carson, Cecil Murphey, Mary McCormick. Copyright © 1992 Benjamin Carson, M.D.. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, 9,
Part 1 Giving Their Best and Thinking Big,
1. Do It Better!, 13,
2. My Mother, Sonya Carson, 31,
3. Mentors, Inspirers, and Influencers, 57,
4. Medical Mentors, 71,
5. Other Significant People, 89,
6. Builders for Eternity, 99,
7. Parents and Patients, 113,
8. Taking Risks, 127,
9. Not Enough, 139,
Part 2 You Can Give Your Best and Think Big,
10. Thinking Big, 151,
11. Honesty Shows, 169,
12. Insightful Thoughts, 177,
13. Nice Guys Finish, 195,
14. Knowledge Counts, 205,
15. Books Are for Reading, 219,
16. In-depth Learning, 231,
17. Caution: God at Work, 243,
18. Reaching for Success, 257,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Think Big 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a highly motivational book. It encourages people to keep on going. He encourages people from every race and ethnicity that they can achieve their goals. I was a little nervous about whether or not I would make a good doctor, but with the help of Dr. Carson, I am encouraged that I will not only be a good doctor, but a great doctor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Motivated book. I recommend this book to anyone who needs a little push
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written and is a great inspiration to me for my future. Ben Carson inspired me to think more of my future when it comes to wanting to be a doctor. He is a great doctor with an intelligent mind, he is one of my mentors. Overall this book is good for people that want to become doctors!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Dr. Carson's book. It had a wealth of information that I could use in my life. His stories come from the heart and are interesting. I read his book in three weeks. Think Big encourages people to live up to their potential.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am truly inspired by reading this book. Sonya Carson is a woman of excellence. I have truly learned a lot from her faith in God, her parenting style, and her hard work and dedication to her children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, really opens your eyes that no matter what, a person can do anything if you put your mind to it. Dr. Carson autographed my hardback book after he perform surgery on me @ John's Hopkins.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must say I love this book and feel that it has added to my life, views and thoughts greatness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is very excellent book because Dr.Carson inspire you that you can make it regardless how difficult can be your childhood. when you have a goal in this life you can finished with a lot pride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really does make you think & definitely "Think Big". He has an amazing perspective on living. A very goo d read.
storms1 More than 1 year ago
"think big" is my favorite of allof the ben carson books. each letter stands for something inspirational and motivativational and shows how you can make a difference in your life. dr ben carson as a child was doing very bad in school and his mother made him go out to the library and read books and do her book reports and as a result his grades improved and he went on to attend a fine university and become one of the most famous doctors. wonderful book very hard to put down great gift idea. other books by ben carson gifted hands, take the risk , america the beautiful also billy grahams new book :the reason for my hope salvation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, great man, we need more people like this to be our leaders in this country! This man knows what it is to work for something and achieve it though hard work. He is a man of God that has values and integrity and it shows through his work and how he lives his life. this is something the people in Washington could learn from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend Think Big to others. It gives so much hope for becoming successful. Dr. Carson talks about how he went from being one of the dumbest kids in class to the smartest, it truly makes you recognize that anyone can do it; anyone can be successful in life as long as you give it your all. I recommend this book to anyone. It was so encouraging and helpful and I feel so confident after reading it.
Starluv9227 More than 1 year ago
Very inspirational, I have learned a lot from this man. Humble in his approach to his work. Describing what each letter of THINK BIG means to him and for others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Think Big by Ben Carson is very inspirational and a life chnging book. Ben Carson talks about talks about his childhood and how he wasn't always the smartest kid in his class. But his mother inspired him to do his best in school!! This book is great for anyone who wants to improve in anything!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read “Think Big” by Ben Carson. In this book Ben Carson strived to inspire people through his life showing that anything is possible. As successful as Ben Carson was when he was older most people would never believe were he started. Ben Carson is an amazing man. In this book “Think Big” it describes and gives you many life lessons. It gives morals that you can use for the rest of your life and they will make you a better person and make you very successful if you stay true to those morals. Mr. Carson wasn’t the smartest kid but he always was told to be the one that works and tries the hardest and you will succeed in all that you do. He was always told that he could do anything, and be anything that he wanted to be, but for a while Ben Carson did not believe that. Just like many people now don’t believe it. This book encourages you to think big, hints the title. It makes you think over and beyond and it makes you want to be extraordinary. This book shows that you don’t have to be the smartest person to be great. Dr. Ben Carson wrote the book “Think Big” to be an inspiration to others, let it be an inspiration to you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I applaud the author on his amazing transition from ghetto to wealth and achievement. I am glad he had what it takes to get there. But this book didn't really explain to me WHAT that was and how others can get there too. Inspiring, but not really instructive. Maybe that wasn't the point.
VRuss More than 1 year ago
If your looking for inspiration this is a good book for you. It shows you how to think outside the box, and to follow your dreams no matter what.
mtnldy More than 1 year ago
Love Ben Carson, inspiring story, inspiring information. Loved the information on how he got from where he was to where he is and how anyone can do it. Great book, highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such an encouraging read! Ben Carson tells of his practice of thinking big and shows us that we can learn ANYTHING.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very short and easy to read. Good for a flight
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CJs1CB More than 1 year ago
Dr. Carson has accomplished almost the impossible in his life considering from where he came. I feel this book would be a good one for a recent graduate, a mother or anyone who is not sure where he/she is going yet. His mother was one of the most influential people in his life and should receive some kind of medal. She pushed he and his brother and it turned out great. I have not finished the book yet. Part of the story is told in his mother's words and is very true to the movie I had watched of his life thus far. A good read.