How Successful People Think

13 Oct 2014

I saw a great movie. Well it wasn’t a great MOVIE, but it was a GREAT STORY about a GREAT MAN.

The film was Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of the most celebrated neurosurgeons in the world. He pioneered new surgeries, forcing himself to consider techniques that had never been thought of. In 1987 he successfully separated craniopagus (Simese) twin boys joined at the head, saving the lives of both infants. (All previous attempts by others had always resulted in the loss of one twin.)

Dr. Carson’s road to a successful career at Johns Hopkins was anything but easy. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth; his parents were not social aristocrats. Ben, in fact, was raised by a single illiterate mother who simply believed in her two boys and pushed them beyond themselves.

As a kid, Ben was a handful; he made poor grades, had a terrible temper and suffered low self-esteem. Later his wife miscarried twins and he endured racism from medical colleagues.

Though she was uneducated, Ben’s mother understood the power of education. While working as a housekeeper for an avid bookworm, she took a cue from his turned-off television veiled by stacks of books. She restricted TV-watching at home and  required her boys to read two books a week. That was life-changing. Ben’s grades improved and he developed a life-long passion for learning.

In his book, How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, John Maxwell shared six key lifestyle principles:

  1. Expose Yourself to Good Input. He wrote, “Good thinkers always prime the pump of ideas. They always look for things to get the thinking process started, because what you put in always impacts what comes out… Read books, review trade magazines, listen to tapes” (audio books and great music).
  2. Expose Yourself to Good Thinkers. He makes the case that it’s important to spend time with the right people—those who themselves want to grow and learn!
  3. Choose to Think Good Thoughts. To be a good thinker, you have to be intentional. Maxwell recommends building in time to think, quoting Dan Cathy (president of Chick-fil-A) who sets aside half a day every two weeks to reflect. He says this helps him, “keep the main thing, the main thing,” since he’s so easily distracted. (Me too!)
  4. Act on Your Good Thoughts. Ideas don’t last forever, so you have to, “act on them before the expiration date.” Maxwell quoted WWI flying ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, who said, “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through—then follow through.”
  5. Allow Your Emotions to Create Another Good Thought. He wrote, “You can act your way into feeling long before you can feel your way into action. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never accomplish it.”
  6. Repeat the process. Don’t be a “one-hit wonder,” spending your whole life protecting and promoting a single idea. “Success,” he wrote, “comes to those who have an entire mountain of gold that they continually mine, not those who find one nugget and try to live on it for fifty years.”

I’m so grateful for people who are smarter and better than me; they inspire me to greatness. I appreciate people like Dr. Ben Carson and John Maxwell who have overcome adversity, pushed themselves, and seemingly realized God’s dreams for their lives. They give me much food for thought.

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