You Have A Brain by Ben Carson(MD)
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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.
Reading the inside flap, you are able to get a very quick summary of what this book is about: “Through gripping and inspiring stories, Ben illustrates how to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. – how to harness the power of Talent, Honesty, Insight, Niceness, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth learning, and God and find the inner strength you never knew you had.” I’m a sucker for a good mnemonic device, so my interest was piqued and I jumped right in.
Within the first three sentences of the book, Dr. Carson is quick to let us know that he has given the brain much thought through the more than 15,000 surgical operations he has performed. Did you know?
- 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 begun to understand.
- 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.
Dr. Carson uses these (and more) facts to illustrate how powerful and wonderful the brain is. When younger, he was considered by his classmates to be the “class dummy,” and he saw no reason to debate this. He had a lack of belief in himself and needed someone to bring out the best in him. That person was his mother. Throughout the book, Carson shares a few stories about the belief and love his mother had for him and to be honest, it is heartwarming. It made me reflect on what I do as dean of students, and hopefully I, along with my colleagues, are able to show this belief and love to our students as it can be the deciding factor in a student succeeding.
Another interesting story is from his time in medical school. Ben followed the rules, went to class, studied, completed assignments, and thought he was doing well. However, it wasn’t long before he had doubts. He did poorly on his first set of comprehensive exams, which led to a conversation with his faculty advisor.
His adviser questioned if he was really cut out for medical school and even hinted at him doing something else. He goes on to talk about how this caused him to reassess how he studied and prepared for class. He came to the conclusion that he learned best by reading. He then decided to skip most of his class lectures and while other students were in class, he was reading and rereading the textbook for each of his courses. He also purchased detailed notes from class “scribes” to fill in any missing details.
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Originally published: 3 February 2015
Genres: Biography, Young adult non-fiction