Servant Leadership Lesson: Ben Carson at Chick-Fil-A Leadercast

Perhaps most inspiring of all, is Ben Carson's legacy will not be one of fame and fortune, but one of serving others. Highlights from his presentation at the 2010 Chick-Fil-A Leadercast follow.

Note: This post is the sixth and last in a series of Servant Leadership Lessons from the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast 2010.

You know you’re in for a good presentation when the speaker starts off with a disclaimer that it is not his “intention to offend anyone, but if he does, too bad.” Ben Carson’s amazing story of success from meager beginnings to professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins is truly amazing. In fact, Carson received the prestigious presidential Medal of Freedom and there is even a movie about his life. Perhaps most inspiring of all, is that his legacy will not be one of fame and fortune, but one of serving others. His scholarship program now seeks to ensure that all 4th, 5th and 6th graders realize they can achieve just as much notoriety for academic success, as for a wicked jump shot. Highlights from Ben Carson’s presentation at the 2010 Chick-Fil-A Leadercast follow:

Ben Carson’s Background Comments

  • “One of the nice things about medicine is that people turn their lives over to you and you can turn it back to them much better.”
  • On Political Correctness: “It is not my intention to offend anyone this evening and if anyone is offended, too bad… I do not believe in political correctness.”
    • “Many people came to this country to escape others telling them what they should say or think and here we are reintroducing this through the backdoor.”
  • He was glad his mother never developed the victims mentality, even though she only had a 3rd grade education
  • Ben Carson was the worst student in the 5th grade
    • Brother was doing poorly too
    • Mother prayed and felt God tell her to turn off the TV and have the boys read two books and give a book report of each, weekly
    • In 1.5 years, Carson went from bottom of class, to the top of the class
    • He reflected that he had the same brain, just a very different opinion of himself

On the State of Our Country & Education

  • He believes the U.S. is headed for a fall, but we can turn it around
  • Likened U.S. to Rome and other great civilizations… they all became enamored with themselves, lots of sports as priorities, materialism, lost their morals and these mighty civilizations fell
  • The question, he felt, was can we (the United States) become the first pinnacle nation to foresee us about to fall and take corrective action?
    • Yes, there’s something different about us
  • Look at our founding fathers. They were men of great faith
    • Many people today are trying to dilute faith or throw it out.
    • The whole world was about to come under tyrannical rule in World War II, were it not for the intervention of the U.S.
  • As he speaks with colleagues in the medical profession from other countries, they reflect that it seems we are moving toward their medical system structure
    • This seems to disappoint them, because they looked to us to be the innovators, so we if we are settling into their programs rather than innovating something new, it leaves less hope for the future.
  • “No knowledge is irrelevant, because you never know what opportunity will come.”
  • “Success is…using the talent God gave you to elevate others.”
  • “It’s okay to live by Godly principles.”
  • “Not only can we still be a pinnacle nation, but we can be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

On Peer Criticism

  • P.E.E.R.S. in Peer Criticism stands for:
    • People
    • Encouraging
    • Errors
    • Rudeness and
    • Stupidity

For More from Ben Carson:


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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