VIA| IJ recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Ben Carson, but we didn’t talk about his current ambitions for the White House.
Instead, we wanted to know what drove Carson, a man who grew up in dire poverty, to turn his life into a story filled with great achievement, resilience and inspiration.
Knowing how special Carson’s relationship with his mother is, we wanted to know what was the most valuable lesson in life that she taught him.
“She never felt sorry for us and never accepted any excuses from us. If somebody doesn’t accept your excuses, pretty soon you stop looking for excuses and start looking for solutions.
“I think that really characterized a great deal of the rest of my life. I was faced with many different surgical issues.
“I could have accepted the traditional excuse that nobody have ever done that, it’s too difficult to do.”
“Or I could have adopted the no excuses philosophy and looked for a solution. And that in fact, is one of the reasons I believe I had a spectacular career.
“I think if I could transport my mom into all the lives of the little kids in America, they would turn out pretty well.”
Then Carson talked about the ‘tremendous’ benefit he received from reading about the lives of successful people:
“I started reading about people of great accomplishment in all kinds of different fields. I began to notice a pattern with successful people, that they took on personal responsibility, they adopted goals, and that they worked very hard to achieve them.
“I came to an understanding that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you.
“I stopped listening to all the people around me who were always saying what you can’t do and that the system is against you. I didn’t have time for that anymore.”
Two figures had a major influence on him besides his mother: Booker T. Washington and Joseph of Egypt.
Later on in life, Carson faced a different type of trial when he received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
He talked about the unusual experience of becoming the patient:
“Initially, it’s a very difficult transition. When I went to sign my operational consent form, I signed where the doctor signs.”
It wasn’t his career as a doctor that helped him through that difficult time, however:
“My biggest source of strength during that time was my spiritual life.”
Carson, who at one point in his life could identify as a ‘troubled youth,’ offered a valuable piece of advice to struggling youth today:
“You need to develop goals in life. You have to have something that you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, you’re just aimlessly drifting and your life will be influenced by whatever is the flavor of the day. That generally isn’t going to get you very far in life.”
At the end of our interview, Carson emphasized that he wants to be remembered as someone with a “can-do attitude” and as a person who rejected the idea that human beings are limited in what we can accomplish and achieve.