I’d like share about what has become one of my favorite books, written by someone who has become one of my favorite people: Take the Risk, by Dr. Ben Carson.
If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Carson, it won’t take long to understand how he has made my list of heroes. He grew up very poor, raised in Detroit with his brother by a single mom who couldn’t read. When his mother required her boys to read and report on two books a week, Ben went from the “dumbest kid in the class” to one of the brightest. He ended up going to Yale and eventually became a neurosurgeon.
In 1987, Dr. Carson actually became the first doctor in history to successfully separate craniopagus twins (conjoined at the head). Now, he’s a professor and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
One can’t help but be encouraged and inspired by his remarkable story.
The Big Idea
Take the Risk is about the role of risk-taking in the process of decision making. In sharing his “Best/Worst Analysis” (B/WA), Dr. Carson offers a unique approach to uncertain or risky decisions, helping us consider various possibilities in a reasonable, logical manner.
He presents these four questions:
- What is the best thing that can happen if I do this?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?
- What is the best thing that can happen if I don’t do this?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this?
The two chapters on risk, as it pertains to science and faith in God, are worth getting the book for alone. Dr. Carson addresses the fact that atheists and theists alike, put their faith in a specific worldview in order to makes sense of life.
As a Campus Minister, I especially appreciated Dr. Carson making mention of the risk he took while in college, making God and church a priority, even during finals week.
And as a new dad, I loved his chapter on risks involved in parenting. Sharing stories from his own family, Dr. Carson touches on challenging decisions like what sort of education you choose for your children; how to balance protecting and pushing our children; and the importance of empowering them to use wisdom.
- “No matter what our professions, we will know risks. We have to use our brains to decide which ones are acceptable and how to approach them.”
- “God took the initial risk at creation by granting humankind free will to choose to believe and obey – or not.”
- “True scientists” often overlook many gaps in what they purport to be fact as they sit on their high horses and declare their devotion to factual truth, when in reality some of their own theories require a great deal of faith to accept.”
- “Evolution and creationism both require faith. It’s just a matter of where you choose to place that faith.”
- “It all boils down to your values. If your priority is to look good in front of people, your life will take a different direction than if your priority is to use the talents God has given you to make a positive difference in the world. Such values will influence what risks you choose to take.”
- “I honestly don’t regret a single time that I ever took a risk for my faith.”
- “Sometimes the conclusions we arrive at depend entirely on the suppositions we start with.”
- “Ask yourself a question, if there is a God, what is the risk of not believing in him versus believing in him? If there is no God, what is the risk of not believing in him versus believing in him? Ask yourself those questions tonight while you are in bed.”
- “Not believing in God doesn’t make you a bad person, just like believing in God doesn’t make me a good person.”
- “Greatness in any endeavor is often measured in terms of the risks a person faces.”
- “True greatness isn’t so much what you do as who you are.”
- “I have great concern about the terrible waste of our nation’s most precious resource – the minds of so many young people who may never reach their potential because they have neither the vision nor the encouragement required.”
- “Without faith and values by which to weigh the answers of our B/WAs, there is no way to conduct a valid or meaningful risk analysis. For it there is no right or wrong, there can be no best or worst.”
Overall, the book is a fantastic blend of stories, challenges, and practical applications for some of the most important aspect of our lives. I give it five stars, and wholeheartedly recommend reading the book and sharing it with a friend.
- Facebook: Ben-Carson-MD
- Website (Carson Scholars Fund): carsonscholars.org
- Buy the book: Amazon
- Buy the movie (Gifted Hands): Amazon
Interview at Penn State:
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