Throughout his life, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson has needed to overcome many obstacles: his father leaving the family; being considered stupid by his classmates in grade school; growing up in inner-city Detroit; and having a violent temper. But Dr. Carson didn't let his circumstances control him, and instead discovered eight principles that helped shape his future.
In You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Think Big, Dr. Carson unpacks the eight important parts of Thinking Big—Talent, Honesty, Insight, Being Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth Learning, and God—and presents the stories of people who demonstrated those things in his life. By applying the idea of T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. to your life, and by looking at those around you as well, you too can overcome obstacles and work toward achieving your dreams.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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.
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.
Deborah Shaw Lewis has authored or coauthored more than a dozen books, including Gifted Hands, The Ben Carson Story, has taught school, does professional storytelling, speaks on motherhood and family issues, and holds a master's degree in early childhood development. She and Gregg are the parents of five children.
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You Have a Brain
By Ben Carson, Gregg Lewis, Deborah Shaw Lewis
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 American Business Collaborative, LLC
All rights reserved.
The Amazing Brain
When you saw the title of this book, You Have a Brain, you probably thought: Well, duh, of course, everybody has one!
Most people haven't given their brains much thought. I have. In more than thirty years as a brain surgeon, I have performed in the neighborhood of 15,000 surgical operations. Counting the scans I've studied, I've examined more than that. I had to know a great deal about the brain before I began my career as a neurosurgeon and I've learned much more since. My patients have been a most significant part of my education on the brain.
Christina was the oldest hemispherectomy patient I ever operated on. We'd had excellent results for years with young children, but I'd never considered the operation—the removal of half a brain—for a twenty-one-year-old. The younger the child, the more elastic and adaptable their brain and the easier it is for the remaining hemisphere to assume the responsibilities of the one that's been removed.
No one was sure how a twenty-one-year-old brain would respond.
But Christina had more than fifty violent seizures a day centered in one side of her brain—and that was under anti-seizure medication. Without the medication, she experienced even more seizures that wreaked havoc on her physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Her quality of life was poor, and the damage caused by the seizures was slowly, but surely, killing her.
So I told her and her family we'd give it a try. She did so well that within just a few months she went back to college. Where she'd struggled to do C- and D-quality work before, after the hemispherectomy, she made As and Bs. Her academic achievement had improved significantly. She finished college, became independent, and started working and making a living. Last I heard, she'd gotten married.
One of the joys of my life right now as I travel around the country is that so many of my former patients seek me out. Most of them are long past childhood now, in their twenties or even their thirties. "I have a family now," they say to me. "This is my wife; here is my son. I wanted them to meet you, and I want to say thank you."
Some of these encounters make me feel old, but aside from that I feel grateful that I get to see some of the fruits of my labor. To be reminded again and again of the brain's resiliency and the amazing potential in even once-damaged and diseased brains. A gift so remarkable, you can have a normal life with only half of one.
Just how amazing and remarkable is this human brain you have?
Inside each human brain are approximately 86 billion neurons interconnected by more than 100 trillion synapses (estimated since no one has counted them all yet), which science has only barely begun to understand.
Your brain started developing almost immediately after conception. During the first months of your mother's pregnancy, your body was creating neurons at the rate of about 400 million per day.
Your brain generates electricity constantly, enough every waking minute to keep a low-wattage light bulb fully lit. So when you say, "That's a bright idea," your statement could be literally as well as figuratively true.
Sensory signals move along an alpha motor neuron in your spinal cord at 268 miles per hour (mph). This is the fastest transmission of this type in the body. Skin sensory receptors, which travel at about 1 mph, are among the slowest in the body because they do not have a myelin sheath, which would insulate them and boost their speed.
The brain of a normal twenty-year-old human possesses 100,000 miles of myelin-covered nerve fibers.
Your brain can feel no pain because it has no pain receptors. The organ that controls the whole nervous system, and it can't feel pain! This is why we can operate on the brain without worrying about the pain level of the patient. It's also the reason we can perform surgery on people who are awake, as they feel absolutely nothing.
Harvard University neuroscientist Jeff Lichtman, who is attempting to map the brain, has calculated that several million petabytes of data storage would be needed to index the entire human brain.
When scientists try to quantify the capacity of the human brain, the numbers get so high that we can't get our minds around them. The potential of your mind is literally mindboggling.
My respect for the human brain has deepened over the years to an attitude I can only describe as awe. Every time I've opened a child's head and seen a brain, I marvel at the mystery. This is what makes every one of us who we are. This is what holds all our memories, all our thoughts, and all our dreams. This is what makes us different from each other in millions of ways.
Do you realize that no super computer on earth can come close to the capacity of the average human brain? The most complex organ system in the entire universe is a tremendous gift from God. There are hundreds more neural connections in our brains than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
I tell audiences of several thousand people that if I could bring one person up on stage, have her look out at the crowd for one second, then lead her away, then fifty years later I could perform an operation to take off the cranial bone and put in some depth electrodes, stimulate the appropriate area of her brain, and she could not only remember where everyone was sitting but also what they were wearing.
The brain sorts, organizes, and warehouses that deluge of sensory data flooding in at millions of bytes per second. It's the control and command center for all of our senses, all our other organs, our body temperature, and the operation of every system in the human body—respiratory, circulatory, and more. Much more. Most of this work the brain does automatically without a thought (literally) from us.
On top of all that, the brain enables us to imagine, to create, and to solve problems. A human brain comes programmed with the ability to extract information from the past, gather information from the present, integrate that data, and project it into the future—which means we're the only creatures on earth with the capacity to analyze, strategize, and prioritize so we can alter or improve the world around us. This is unlike other animals who only react to what's going on around them.
Yet, when I was a child, I did not think that my brain was capable of doing much of anything. My classmates considered me the class dummy, and I saw no reason to debate their conclusion.
My mother, however, always believed in me. She knew I had a brain, and she was convinced that brain could be my ticket to a bigger, better world beyond our tiny home and life on the big city streets of Detroit.
And she was right.CHAPTER 2
Think Beyond the Can
I don't recall the first time my mother asked me, "Do you have a brain?" I heard it voiced or inferred so many times growing up that it's impossible to remember all the occasions, let alone arrange them chronologically.
However, one childhood incident always leaps to mind whenever I think about that all-too-familiar question from my youth. My brother, Curtis, and I had received a BB gun as a gift, and we were anxious to try it out.
After scrounging an empty tin can out of the kitchen trash, we headed outside for a little target practice. I took the can, and Curtis, since he was older by two years, carried our BB gun. In no time, we spotted the perfect set up. Instead of simply standing the can on a flat surface, we turned it upside-down over the wire prongs sticking up from the woven wire fence across the alleyway. That way the can might rattle and vibrate, or maybe even spin on impact, without sailing off the fence. We'd save ourselves the aggravation of chasing or picking up the target each time we hit it.
Curtis took the first turn. I don't have any idea how many shots he fired before the can finally pinged. I'd watched The Lone Ranger and The Rifleman on television and had good coordination and a steady hand. How hard could this be? I was certain I could do better than Curtis on my first round.
But I didn't. I don't recall (and never really want to) how many of my shots missed before I finally heard the first tinny ping of success. It was harder than it looked on TV—and downright impossible to adjust my aim when I couldn't always tell which way I'd missed. And it didn't help my concentration to have to tune out my brother's voice constantly offering advice.
Still our target practice became more fun and less frustrating as the frequency of our hits steadily improved—until we ran out of BBs and headed back into the house, discussing where we might collect enough change to purchase additional ammo. We still hadn't settled on a workable solution to our monetary shortage when a neighbor walked over to our house early that evening wanting to speak to "Miz Carson." He was carrying something long and flat. I couldn't tell exactly what it was—until he tipped it up to show my mother.
I'm not sure she realized right away exactly what he wanted her to see—or why. But I did. And if I'd had a magic wand at the time, I would have waved it and poof! Curtis and I could have disappeared. I realized our neighbor was holding a section of screen from his back porch. A screen with lots of little holes in it. BB-sized holes. Clearly, the screen had been in a direct line behind the fence and the tin can we'd been shooting at much of the afternoon.
From the look on the neighbor's face, he was not a happy man. Nevertheless, he politely inquired, "Miz Carson, would you, or perhaps your boys, be able to explain this?"
Curtis and I made eye contact. Mother hadn't been home earlier, so she knew nothing about our target practice. And we seriously doubted she'd had enough personal experience with BB guns to immediately recognize the damage for what it was. When she turned to us in search of an explanation, we had no choice but to confess. We were not going to lie to our mother. And we didn't want our neighbor to think she might have known anything about it.
We admitted full responsibility. Apologized profusely. Explained what we'd done with the tin can and exactly how it happened. We desperately hoped the neighbor and our mother believed we hadn't intentionally damaged his screen. In fact, we had no idea that we had until he'd shown up with the evidence.
Mother didn't say much. She looked more disappointed (and maybe a little embarrassed) than angry. The neighbor listened to our explanation and apology. He evidently believed our account of the incident because he accepted our apologies, but he wasn't about to shrug off the consequences of our behavior. "I'm gonna have to replace this whole section of screen," he told us. "And I can't do that for free."
Curtis and I told him we didn't have any money to pay for the damage. Looking back, I'm sure he already realized that, which might explain how quickly he proposed a solution. He'd buy the replacement screen. And once he knew how much it would cost him, Curtis and I could work off our debt by doing odd jobs around his house and yard until he thought we'd fulfilled our financial responsibility.
We agreed that sounded fair to us. We realized, though, that Mother didn't think it was entirely resolved.
No sooner had the man left than Mother turned, looked at us, and inquired, "Do you boys have a brain? You were shooting a gun toward someone's house! Did it not occur to you that you might miss the can sometimes? Did you not realize those BBs would have to go somewhere? Obviously, they went a lot farther than you intended for them to go. Or imagined they would go. They could have hurt someone! But boys, you are both smart. You need to use the brains God gave you and learn to think beyond the can!"
Then she looked right at Curtis for a few seconds before she shifted her gaze to my eyes. "Do you boys understand what I'm saying?" We both assured her we did.
We didn't feel quite so understanding when she ended the conversation by confiscating our BB gun and keeping it until we worked off our debt to the neighbor and showed her we could be more responsible.
* * *
That certainly was not the last time our mother asked us, "Do you have a brain?"—any more than it was the first. My mother would pose it like an unannounced pop quiz on all-too-frequent occasions throughout those first eighteen years of my life. And I probably wouldn't have to think too hard to recall occasions she's asked that same question since then.
A majority of my friends today would not be surprised to hear me say that most of the time I was a pretty nice, laid-back, easy-going, basically-get-along kind of kid growing up. But I did have a temper—which got me into more than my share of trouble at school.
For example, I got into a scuffle one day with a boy who called me a name. Ordinarily, that wouldn't have bothered me. But this day, that particular name—long forgotten now—ticked me off. So I called him a name in return. He called me another name. One of us shoved the other. Someone yelled, "Fight!" And we went at it. We did a lot more pushing and grabbing than actual fisticuffs before a teacher pulled us apart. I suspect any scorekeepers in the crowd gathered around us probably judged it a disappointing draw.
Of course, we both got sent to the office anyway, and the school called our parents. My mother couldn't get there to check me out, so I stayed until the end of the school day and walked home as usual. When Mother got home from work later, I saw concern and disappointment all over her face.
She looked at me and said, "Let me get this straight. On the basis of somebody making a silly comment, calling you some name, you got into a fight that resulted in all this trouble at school?" I began to tell her how the other kid started it, but I hadn't finished my first sentence when she shut down my explanation by asking, "Bennie, do you have a brain?"
I knew the response she expected, but why did she bother asking? I raised my eyes to look at her and softly replied, "Yes, ma'am."
"Then you need to think, Bennie!"
She wasn't through yet. "And I don't care what that other boy said or called you. His words shouldn't matter at all. They won't matter to anyone else tomorrow. They only mattered to you today because you let them! What really matters is how you respond—your behavior! And you are the only one who can determine and control that—but only if you use your brain to look beyond the moment ..."
* * *
My mother had a lot of ways to say the same thing. But I was struggling to put into words my own frustration and indignation that it was ... unfair how she always wants to shrug off others' role—even when they are clearly to blame—and focus on my response instead. Why can't she see?
Mother was still talking, and as her words interrupted my internal argument, it seemed almost as if she was hearing my thoughts. "If you let others' actions and words determine what you do, there's no real point in having a mind of your own. Use that brain God gave you ..."
There it was; I knew that was coming.
"... to make your own decisions, to choose your own path. Don't let anything other people say or do rob you of that choice—that responsibility. Even in the heat of the moment you need to use that brain to think. Don't let anyone else push you into doing something foolish or wrong that you'll regret as soon as the moment is over. Or tomorrow. Maybe even forever."
In other words, think beyond the moment. Look beyond the can.
An awful lot of what Mother desperately wanted us to learn about life seemed to relate to that overarching theme of "You've got a brain—use it." She was big on taking responsibility. God had given us our brains. And with those brains came the ability to figure out which way the wind was blowing and maybe even how to harness it for our own benefit.
So Curtis and I didn't hear that familiar question only when we'd gotten into trouble. It was often mother's immediate (and sometimes only) response when one of us would run to her complaining about something the other had said or done. "Do you boys have a brain?"
Yes, of course. We didn't even have to answer out loud. We might nod or simply lower our chins.
"Then surely you have the intelligence to settle this between yourselves."
Or we'd be whining about a bike or something else that was in need of repair before we could use it. She'd just look at us and ask, "Do you have a brain?" (Pause for effect) "Then I bet you can figure out what needs to be done to fix it." Sometimes she wouldn't say a word, but just give us her "use your brain" look.
It got to the point that we didn't even bother to inform her about a lot of little things—like the fact that an essential piece of some game was lost. We'd just use our heads to figure out something we could use as a substitute.
Excerpted from You Have a Brain by Ben Carson, Gregg Lewis, Deborah Shaw Lewis. Copyright © 2015 American Business Collaborative, LLC. 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
Chapter 1 The Amazing Brain 7
Chapter 2 Think Beyond the Can 13
Chapter 3 Gone 21
Chapter 4 How We Got Smart 29
Chapter 5 Bookworm 39
Chapter 6 Taming My Temper 49
Chapter 7 Expanding My Options 59
Chapter 8 The Smartest Choice 69
Chapter 9 Off to College 79
Chapter 10 The Challenge - Medical School 89
Chapter 11 Becoming a Neurosurgeon 97
Chapter 12 More Twins 107
Chapter 13 Mother's Influence 119
Chapter 14 Talent 133
Chapter 15 Honesty 145
Chapter 16 Insight 157
Chapter 17 Nice 167
Chapter 18 Knowledge 179
Chapter 19 Books 189
Chapter 20 In-Depth Learning 199
Chapter 21 God 211
Chapter 22 Think Big 219
Appendix: Personal Talent Assessment 227
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one terrific book. Couldn't put it down. Bought it for my grandson, but before giving it away, I and husband also read it. Everyone ought to read about Dr. Ben Carson. Wonderful person, Christian background, so knowledgeable doctor, coming from such a difficult childhood. Praise to his mom one very strong lady, who continued to inspire and encourage him. A favorite book indeed!
This has got to be one of my fav. books.
This should be a mandatory reading.
WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW! Ben Carson is not only a gifted surgeon, he is a wonderful writer – funny, interesting and this book is exceptionally difficult to put down. Even the descriptions of brain surgery, which should be nothing but gross, had my complete attention because they were phrased in such a way that made them interesting but not at all gross or disgusting. And the stories about Dr. Carson’s mother… WOW! No wonder he is such an intelligent and learned man – she is clearly a GENIUS! I refuse to spoil the book for you but please take my word for it – it is a FANTASTIC book! A MUST READ! And not just for teens either… parents will get so much out of this book too! © JCMorrows 2015
I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest opinion. T H I N K B I G ! This is the message that Ben Carson is revealing in his “teen guide “book. What is he talking about with this acronym? He uses it to stand for: Talents, honesty, insight, nice, knowledge, books, in-depth learning and God. Personally, I think it is a great message for anyone! Ben and his brother were raised by his mom. No one could have known that his father would leave them when Ben was young. His mother worked 2 jobs and even moved to try do what was best for her boys. By the time Ben was in 5th grade he faced academic deficiencies. Ben’s mom leaned on the Lord and prayed hard for guidance. The Lord provided her with the wisdom to set the boys on a path to a lifetime of learning. She instilled in them faith and drive. She instilled in them to use their God given brains. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Being the mom to 4 little blessings, I have to say I have actually had to remind my kiddos to use theirs from time to time. I am sure that you have too. This book is written so that it is an easy read mo stly focusing on Ben’s life. Using examples of his life and how even though he faced hardships in his life, they didn’t define him. He became the neurosurgeon that God had planned for him. His faith guided him on his path to success despite the obstacles he faced. What a great inspirational, directional book for really anyone. I love the title as well as the book and would recommend it for anyone looking for inspiration or direction!
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher to help facilitate the writing of an unbiased and fair review. You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Think Big (affiliate link) begins with the story of Dr. Ben Carson’s life. He went from being the “dumbest kid in the class” to being a renowned neurosurgeon, author, and more. His journey to knowledge began at an early age when his mom required him to read a certain number of books each week. While she didn’t have an education beyond elementary school school, she was smart enough to understand what her boys needed to succeed in life. She would ask her boys “Do you have a brain?” when she wanted them to think about their decisions. I truly enjoy reading stories about people who beat the odds and make something of their lives no matter what hardships they need to overcome to be successful, and Dr. Carson’s life story did not disappoint. I had previously watched Gifted Hands, but to truly appreciate his story, you need to read it in his own words. After sharing his life story, which is a large chunk of the book, Dr. Carson talks about how teens need to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. He wants teens to be able to set goals for themselves and then succeed at achieving those goals. He lays out a plan, and of course, that plan involves utilizing the brain that the Lord gave them. As a mother of a teen, I found this section to be really motivational for me as it gives me tools to help my teen succeed at her dreams. Whether you’re a parent of a teen or you’re a teen, this book can help you lay down a solid strategy for success in life. His foundation is based upon using the brain that the Lord gave you. Honestly, it’s not a bad book for anyone to read no matter what stage of life they are in as we can all use a little help in realizing our goals/dreams in life.
Even if Ben Carson’s mother had foreknown her son’s future as a neurosurgeon, she could hardly have come up with a more fitting rhetorical question to challenge him throughout his childhood: “Do you have a brain?” Mrs. Carson never doubted the affirmative response to that question, and the resulting story is one that deserves to be told, as much for the re-telling of Dr. Carson’s remarkable life as for the revelation of Sonya Carson’s mothering style that anchored her two sons. Ben Carson got off to a rough start. When his father abandoned the family, they were left in poverty and instability, which resulted in severe educational deficiencies for Ben by the time he reached fifth grade. Taking matters into her own hands, Mrs. Carson prayed for wisdom to resolve her son’s problems, and He who gives to mother’s liberally and without reproach guided her into a hands-on approach that launched Ben and his brother into academic success, but, more importantly, toward a commitment to life-long learning. Dr. Carson writes for a teen audience, and ably demonstrates that the effective use of his brain could trump peer pressure (In his experience, P.E.E.R.S. were actually People Encouraging Errors, Rudeness, and Stupidity.); it could repel attacks of the fashion-ista; and it could put a harness on raging hormones. By contrast, however, Carson found that his battle with an out-of-control temper required help from on high — but he did have to use his brain to recognize the urgency of his need. Parenting four boys, my husband and I have told them, “Whatever you have in your hands, God will use.” This truth has been borne out in the life of Ben Carson as he pursued multiple interests throughout his adolescence and found that each of them, whether art, music, science, or the military, contributed to his professional success and enjoyment of life. The final chapters of You Have a Brain extract the practical principles that governed Ben Carson’s choices in life. Using a memorable acronym, he urges readers to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. while using their Talents, applying standards of Honesty and striving for Insight; to be Nice and to stay committed to the pursuit of Knowledge (particularly through many, many Books); then, to do the work necessary for In-depth Learning. Above all, he affirms that there is a God at work behind the scenes who designed the human brain, longs for a relationship with individuals, and stands ready to provide wisdom to the seeking heart. The Personal Talent Assessment provided in the appendix is a helpful tool for annual heart-searching and goal-setting, either independently or with the guidance of a parent or mentor. My own thoughts while reading You Have a Brain veered between wistfulness and hope. I distinctly recall making decisions as a student that were “the easy way out.” I should have risked more. However, I plan to put this book into the hands of my teen boys and to get in touch with my “inner-Sonya.” It is absolutely urgent that my boys should be aware of the impact their magnificent brains can have on their own future success. Disclosure: This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my unbiased review.
When debating upon which book to review next, I saw this book by Dr. Carson and immediately snatched it up. Dr. Carson is a Christian neurosurgeon who specializes in pediatrics. I have a deep respect for him, both as a doctor and as a Christian who refuses to be budged from his beliefs. In You Have a Brain, A Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G., Dr. Carson begins his "guide" by telling some stories from his youth. His mom had a HUGE impact on how he would one day turn out. She told him often that he had a brain and to use it. Well, he did use that brain and the rest is history. T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. stands for: Talent, Honesty, Insight, Niceness, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth Learning, and God. Dr. Carson uses inspiring stories to demonstrate the need for teens to use and develop a love of learning and God to be all that they can be. At the end of the book are thought provoking discussion questions that can be answered alone or maybe with a parent or friend. I enjoyed this book immensely for its easy reading style but more for it's teaching of an important message. Teens need to know that they are worth something more than what society will tell them they are. They need prayers, direction, and guidance to lead them along the path the Lord has provided for them. Dr. Carson is a wonderful role model that I hope my own teenage son will admire and learn from as he reads this book. *I received a copy of You Have a Brain, A Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are my own.*