Robert was your typical college student – lost, unfocused and simply going through the motions. What Robert did know, however, was that he always loved tinkering. He spent most of his time perpetually lost in his thoughts, dreaming up some invention that was going to revolutionize the world. But alas, other than a surgical stapler, not much had ever come out of Robert’s workshop. So here was Robert, an inventor at heart trying to find his way through college, trying to find that spark to keep him focused and feeling alive. After wandering from subject to subject, Robert settled on art and architecture. He thought surely architecture would be the proper home for his creativity and his expansive mind. He dreamt of building tall buildings that would pierce the sky with their spires… at least until he became bored and found something else more engaging.
One chilly morning Robert’s world stopped. The call came through with an icy coldness. Robert’s father was going to need open heart surgery immediately. Robert was stunned. How could this be happening? Robert still had so much to ask his dad… so much they had never shared, never talked about. Growing up, Robert had never been particularly close to his dad, but since he had gone off to college, the distance was bringing them closer together. He was actually beginning to like his dad for the first time in his life and now to have it all taken away? No. That’s not fair. And unfortunately, no tall building was ever going to be tall enough, strong enough or well-built enough to save dad.
And that’s when Robert decided. He switched his major from architecture to medicine. In that moment, he dedicated his life to studying the heart. Over the next few years, what he found was fascinating. He discovered that many people with heart disease actually need heart transplants but there simply weren’t enough extra hearts lying around to meet the need. Then the light bulb went off. Robert could make more. What if he used his inventor mind and his dedication to the heart to solve a huge problem that his dad and many others in the world were facing – not enough hearts to go around.
Fast-forward to 1982. It was in that year that something magical happened that would forever change the course of medicine. Dr. Robert Jarvik implanted the first successful artificial heart in a human being. Today, his “Jarvik heart” has had a huge impact on millions across the globe and has been the foundation for similar medical breakthroughs in implant technology.
I love this story not only because of the amazing end result, but because it reminds us that we can find fulfillment and purpose simply by looking close to home. This story reinforces that by answering one of the “5 Questions” (can you guess which one Robert answered? Here’s a link to the answer) we can be provided the focus, fulfillment and purpose we need to follow something all the way through to the end.
So how about you? You’re on the cusp of something big. Do you know what it is? Discover it and change the world forever.