Ben Carson, Discipline, and His Mother’s Influence

Ben Carson is an American neurosurgeon and the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is also a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics, and is the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.  Among other surgical innovations, he did pioneering work on the successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the head.

In 2008, Dr. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, by President George W. Bush.

As a youngster, Ben struggled academically throughout elementary school and emotionally with his temper. He was constantly in trouble.

What turned this avid television-watching youngster around? The answer: discipline and reflection leading to motivation.

First, his mother reduced his television time.

Second, she had young Ben read two books a week and produce written reviews for her. As Dr. Carson learned later, his mother could not read—but acted as if she could.

Third, his mother said, “Since you like television so much, if you read you can get yourself on television.”

Compared to what his mother did and said to him, no amount of external approaches of bribes, manipulations, or punishments could have motivated Ben to change his attitude or behavior.

Of course, what he achieved required discipline. But it was also his reflection on what his mother said that prompted him to become motivated enough to change him into one of the United States’ current role models.