Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw is serious about his work. As the only neurosurgeon at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, he is on call 330 days per year. He’s deeply committed to helping people and saving lives, regularly embracing a “whatever it takes approach.”
This resolve was put to the test a few weeks ago, in the midst of the polar vortex that has been wreaking havoc on communities in the U.S. ever since the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. Having just completed a surgery at a neighboring hospital, he received an emergency call from Trinity. He was needed to save a life.
The arctic weather had locked down the roads in a town that isn’t accustomed to large amounts of snow. Dr. Hrynkiw was caught in total gridlock, and after a few blocks realized he’d be stuck in traffic indefinitely, according to a news account I read. At that moment, he could have given up. He tried to get there, after all. Any reasonable person would have absolved him of blame if he simply couldn’t get to the hospital because of an act of God. Thankfully, the good doctor is far from reasonable.
Rather that quitting, the 62-year-old got out of his car and started walking. He trekked 6 miles in the bitter cold to reach his patient in need. He walked straight into the hospital, prepped for surgery, and immediately began the complicated procedure. According to hospital officials, the patient had only a 10% chance of survival if Dr. Hrynkiw hadn’t been able to make it.
And, of course, when asked about it later, he was humble and said he was just doing his job.
We all have roadblocks that can inhibit our ability to achieve. Weather is only one of dozens of factors that can hold us back from reaching our potential and doing our best work. However, we can all learn a powerful lesson from this dedicated surgeon: Those obstacles exist simply to test your resolve.
Reflecting on the neurosurgeon’s heroic 6-mile hike, I realized that two ingredients made it possible — the combination of calling and commitment.
This passionate doctor was driven to save lives; he was doing what he was meant to do. Because he was pursuing his purpose instead of just punching the clock, he had the fortitude to break through perceived limits. In turn, he was able to summon the unwavering commitment to deliver. He was able to harness the grit and determination to stop at nothing in order to fulfill his life’s work.
As you examine your own situation, try to find the intersection of calling and commitment. If you are doing what you’re truly meant to do — meaningful work that leaves a positive impact on the world — you’ll be able to develop the unbreakable commitment needed to manifest your vision.
The beautiful simplicity of calling + commitment. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to embrace this elegant formula in your own life. Let your own 6-mile walk begin.