Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Take the Risk by Dr. Ben Carson

Take the Risk, by Ben Carson
After listening to Dr. Ben Carson on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast, and hearing my friends Peggy and Sue talk about the wisdom of this man, I decided to borrow one of his books from the public library. He has written several books and I didn't particularly care which one I read first, but this one, Take the Risk was the only one available the day I looked, so it's the one I brought home.

Take the Risk - Learning to Identify, Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk was a book that I could not put down easily. His writing style is comfortable, rather surprising when one realizes Dr. Carson is a world-renown neurosurgeon.  

The reason for writing this book was to talk about what it means to take a risk (in anything) and how to think through ahead of time if the chance is worth taking. He came up with a 4-point formula he uses to analyze a risk before he makes a commitment to it or backs away.  

The first chapter relates one of his most famous medical cases where he was called upon to assist with the surgical separation of conjoined twin girls, aged 29, joined at the back of their heads. He lead us through the experience (I won't tell you how it turned out) and how he reached the conclusion that he should participate in such risky procedures while knowing much of the world would be watching over his shoulder and the possible outcomes that could affect his career and reputation.

Then before he tells us more breath-holding stories from his scalpel, he takes us back to his upbringing, which is an amazing story all by itself. He and his brother were raised by their very young mother who learned when the boys were in grade school that her husband (their father) was a most unholy man with a clandestine life about which she had known nothing. 

This very brave black woman went on to raise her sons by herself in Detroit and Boston during the 1950s and 60s with all the racial strife just outside the door of their home. The story of how this most humble and uneducated woman succeeded in raising a son to be a brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins is a fascinating read.

But what perhaps intrigued me the most was the humble telling by Dr. Carson of his experiences both inside and outside of hospital walls that served to shape him into a deep-thinking, very reflective man. Within the framework of his Christianity and faith in God, he shared life lessons and wisdom about human character.  

Before I completed the first hundred pages, I found that I could not read without stopping to take notes; his insights were so profound to me. Here are some of them:

Page 132 One of the challenges for people of faith who fervently believe in a creator God is not to come off as totally closed-minded and unreasonable when dealing with those who don't believe ... a holier-than-thou demeanor and a refusal to respect or even listen to someone else's point of view actually presents a risk to both sides.

Page 134 ... the real instruction Jesus gave his followers was to attract others ... not to repel them.

There was a time in Dr. Carson's elementary school years that both he and his brother were failing terribly.  At a loss as to what more she could do, his mother prayed, asking God for the help they all so desperately needed.  The solution was surprisingly easy, although obedience and discipline were required. But in a short time it paid off and the lives of these brothers turned around for the good. 

If you want to read a modern-day story of adventure and courage with good character modeling, I highly recommend this book for teens and older.  

I enjoyed learning from Dr. Ben Carson's experiences and hope I can spare myself some grief as I put into practice lessons he shared in this book, Take the Risk.


  1. There is a movie, made from one of his books, called "Gifted Hands". Excellent, too. I saw him in person last year, at a leadership conference. He is an amazing man.

  2. This man interests me! I have heard him on tv a number of times and am always impressed by his thoughtful, quiet demeanor. Thank you for the review.