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Book Review: "Think Big"

This is me in my den yesterday holding Ben Carson's Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence. More about it in the story of mine below.

Back in 2007 when I was a first-year student at JKUAT, I bought Ben Carson's Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence from a book-stand at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi. I read the book and then misplaced it.

Some time last year in 2017, I dreamt in my sleep at night of me re-purchasing the book. Guess what! The following day after having that dream, I found the book I had misplaced while ransacking my father's study room. It looked as good as it was the last time I touched it in 2007. As in, it wasn't worn out or chewed by ants and rats that are a constant source of annoyance at our home here in Kiserian.

Early this month, I decided to re-read the book. And wow! I found it beautifully written, closely reasoned and utterly transparent in its exposition and logic. Re-reading the book felt like having a one-on-one conversation with Ben Carson. I felt disappointed to finish it because I wanted the pleasure of my reading to go on and on.

Anyway, let me now tell you briefly about it. In the first part of the book, Ben Carson appreciates and lets us know the people who contributed to his success. Among them is his mother who encouraged him to read books and give his best in everything he did. He also mentions some of his teachers in primary and secondary school who drew out the best in him.

In the second part of the book, Ben Carson sheds light on what contributes to true success in life: acquiring knowledge, reading books and using our talents. He says that every piece of knowledge counts, be it Geography or History. So I am thinking that should your child ever decide to drop out of a degree in Finance to pursue Helminthology (study of worms), don't discourage him from his decision because he could end up discovering something that will revolutionize treatment of cancer.

On reading books, Ben Carson exhorts us to read, read and read books. He quotes the following words of William Ellery Channing twice in the book:
It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are true levellers. They give to all who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence of the best and greatest of our race.
On using our talents, Ben Carson writes in the book that "if you recognize your talents, use them appropriately, and choose a field that uses those talents, you will rise to the top of your field."

I am now thinking that the key to fulfilling our dreams is identifying our talents and putting them into use. So I have listed my talents and dreams which are as follows:
ReadingBuild a resplendent home
WritingHave great friends
Public-speakingGet engaged to a winsome lady
WalkingDrive a classy car
Piano-playingTravel overseas
SingingBecome famous
SocializingHave inner peace
JoggingHave a colourful wedding
GardeningProduce inspirational songs
CookingHelp the less fortunate

There you have them: that is, my talents and dreams. I beseech you to also give identifying your talents and dreams an exercise. Over to you!

If you've enjoyed this story of mine on the book review of Think Big, you might also enjoy another one on "Lessons From Ben Carson". Just click on that link in blue to dive into the story


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An Inspiring Correspondence

With permission, I have extracted this picture-quote from Morefamousquotes.com. All rights reserved worldwide.

How are you today, my dear reader? Hoping that you are counting your blessings regularly as well as finding contentment and inner peace with the person that you are, I want to share with you a story about the inspiring correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both played a pivotal role in the American struggle for independence that took place in the 18th Century. After the United States gained independence, they both served as its president. Adams was the second President of the United States while Jefferson was the third. And after finishing their terms as presidents, they began exchanging letters beginning from the year 1812 until 1826 when they both died on the same day.

The letters they both exchanged, beginning from 1812, were about history, theology and politics of the day. And on analysing those letters, three traits emerge in Adams and Jefferson: a passion for learning, capacity for independent thought and a friendship grounded in the deepest respect and admiration for one another.

Adams and Jefferson were both voracious readers and prolific writers. Adams had a great library in Massachusetts; Jefferson, one of the finest in Virginia. They were both fluent in English, Greek, Latin and French. And they often recommended books for one another and discussed about their contents to each other.

Like on Plato's Republic, which both of them loathed, Jefferson, in a letter that speaks much of his independence of thought, wrote to Adams:
I laid it down often to ask myself how it could have been that the whole world should have consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this.
Adams replied:
I am very glad you have seriously read Plato, and still more rejoiced to find that your reflections upon him so perfectly harmonize with mine.
It's not only their breadth of learning that is impressing, but their passion for it. Adams wrote to Jefferson:
So many subjects crowd upon me that I know not which to begin with.
On the particular subject of government, which they both loved, Adams insisted:
You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.
Jefferson concurred and wrote back:
...But why am I dosing you with these ante-diluvian topics? Because I am glad to have someone whom they are familiar with and who will not receive them as if dropped from the moon.
Then five years before their death, the 86-year old Adams wrote to Jefferson:
Must we, before we take our departure from this grand and beautiful world, surrender all our pleasing hopes of the progress of society? Of improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the world? Of the reformation of mankind?
A passion for learning, capacity for independent thought and a friendship rooted in deep respect and admiration for one another - again, these are the traits that come out in the inspiring correspondence between Adams and Jefferson. I am also trying to cultivate in myself those qualities each passing day. So help me God.


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