Johns Hopkins accepts only 2 students a year for neurosurgery residency. This year, we have 125 applicants. So, why should we take you?”
Consciously, more or less, and several times during our lives, we have to choose or be chosen. Many times, the choice is influenced by the way we act and communicate; ways which, many of you know, are the results of our ways of thinking.
Just like saying that our way of thinking influences our way of choosing.
Let’s think about it for a moment: our lives are full of choices. We choose and we make ourselves chosen, in family, in friendships, in sport, at work… and every choice decrees a new path, different from any other; for this reason there are people, for example, who choose not to choose, because they are afraid to make the wrong choice; and there are those that regret having made a choice; and those who make their lives wonderful by making a choice.

In summary, choosing means living, and living means choosing. That is why I want to propose to you an “instrument” that could be very useful for positively influencing your choices, like those of others.

The question from which we started is taken from the film “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story”, a film dedicated to the life of one of the most famous neurosurgeons of the world: Benjamin Carson.
When Virginio spoke to me about “Training with Movies” I was very enthusiastic about it because I believe that the cinema has a lot to teach, and a lot to teach us. It could be a fantasy film like Avatar, or an animated film like The Lion King, or even a true story, like the one about our neurosurgeon: the common element is that films contain lots of contributions that we must…choose to discover, and make them our own.
Benjamin has talent, an inborn gift, but he could have ended up wasting it, had his mother not forced him (together with this brother) to read instead of watching TV. There, see? Personally I have said for a long time that we should spend less time watching TV, by choosing things that in a way can improve us, motivate us and give us more knowledge. This means keeping the TV off, together with its programmes that only irritate and depress us.
If a programme, allows me to improve, act better, or “be” better, then ok. Otherwise it is better to choose a good book or a good film (obviously, you will need the TV to do so) :-).

What does this film teach us? Let’s find out together, by starting from the question:
Johns Hopkins accepts only 2 students a year for neurosurgery residency. This year, we have 125 applicants. So, why should we take you?”
Benjamin’s career takes off when he is one of the chosen few. But choice passes for a reply, an instinctive, unprepared reply, and I will write about this further on. To the question above, Ben answers with the reply they all give, so the recruitment officer raises a second and then this third question:
“Why did you decide to be a brain doctor?”
After a moment of hesitation, he opens his heart:

I believe we’re all capable of performing miracles, up here. I believe we’re all blessed with astonishing gifts and skills!”
The first step in doing anything is believing that you can do it. The first step to free your talent is to believe that you have it. As a talent coach, I continue to repeat that the real problem is not a lack of talent, but a waste of talent; and again it is a question of choosing: how much to believe in something, and how much to believe in yourself.
Choose. Choose how to think, choose how to act, choose how to communicate.
Choose. Even when it is difficult.
And then the second lesson from Benjamin is given in this clip.

Difficulties are the test case for our choices. Seneca once said that “The greatness of a man is measured by how he behaves when faced with obstacles”. Ben is faced with them immediately, because of the colour of his skin, because of conventions, because of common places .
Further on in the film, he is the champion of one of the fights that can even illuminate your life: annihilating justifications. One morning he gets told off for arriving late to work, and with a smile he promises that it won’t happen again. Not even an excuse for his lateness: during the night his wife had lost their twins.
No excuse, no justification. We can all be like Ben, if only we concentrate on choosing: choosing how we want to be. We have to push away excuses from our minds and our ways of thinking, acting and choosing.

Personally I believe that we need to distinguish the moment of choice from the moment we deal with things, in good or in bad, with the effects of the choices made.
Firstly, in order to choose well we must “feed” the quality of our thoughts. It is thanks to the quality of his thoughts that Ben replied to the question that got him chosen out of 125 candidates. That is why I advise people to put themselves in a condition to be able to get the best choice possible.
After which, even the best “theoretical” choice could end up being a complete disaster. And here again, it is all down to you, choosing how you behave, how to answer, how to react. I doubt that I will ever meet a person who has not made a bad choice in life, or a person who has not been at the centre of choices made by others.
Perhaps this is the essence of growth: always trying to get the best choice possible, knowing that if things don’t go as we hoped, we will know how to choose to respond!

It is from this belief that I would like to propose an “instrument” to you that could be useful for positively influencing your choices, like those of others.
When I talk about relationship over time, I invite people to “Learn from the past, live intensely in the present and plan the future”.
Many people have done so, and many can confirm: the clearer our futures are to us, then better we are at making better choices, or at least replying quickly should our choices not be so good.
I have always said that “imagination is the first step to realisation”. It is easier to fulfill what you have managed to imagine. This is the instrument that I suggest you use to make the quality of your choices greater: imagine, like Ben, who imagined what he was capable of doing with his hands..

The more our choices reflect on what we want to do, then the more we become the reflection of our choices. And that is why Ben probably got the internship by answering:
I believe we’re all capable of performing miracles, up here. I believe we’re all blessed with astonishing gifts and skills!”
There, this is what I invite you to imagine; notwithstanding your “gift”, or your talent, l invite you to discover it, believe in it and imagine where you want it to take you.
Because freeing your talent is a wonderful way of freeing yourself!

Lelio “Lele” Canavero


“… and in case I don’t see ya

good afternoon, good evening and good night!”…

(The Truman Show)


Buy the film

Buy the recommended book

"Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" A film by David A. Rosemont with Cuba Gooding Jr., Kimberly Elise, Aunjanue Ellis. USA, 2009

"Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life" by Ken Robinson

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