The Pathway to Discovery

When you’ve got a lot to do, you learn to multi-task. So, while I was doing cardio at the gym this morning, I was also reading this month’s issue of Discover magazine. The feature article, “How to Cure Everything” was terrific. I am constantly amazed with all of the progress that has made in medicine, especially over the past few decades, and I am excited to witness even greater accomplishments in the future.

One of the points that came up in the story focused on how, over the years, there has often been opposition to research. For instance, when HIV was first discovered, there were groups who were morally opposed to funding studies on the virus because they felt it was some sort of divine intervention. More recently, a segment of the population has sought to prevent research using stem cells. The author then went on to explain that many scientific discoveries are made not because of the original focus of the researcher, but merely as a fortuitous detour, “Cures rarely happen with a flash of brilliance and cries of eureka, but their methodical unfolding fuels the dreams and enterprise of science.” The discoveries that are made on the way to the planned destination are often more significant than anything that could have been originally imagined.

This made me think of some of the situations that I’ve encountered as I have helped people with their own planning. Initially someone will call and say something like, “I’m going on an adventure vacation, and I need a will.” When we sit down and begin the process of looking at not only what they have, but what is truly important to them, we discover that a will is possibly the least important thing that they need right now. As we talk about everything that is important to them: their spouses; their children; their parents; their friends; and even charities, it becomes more and more clear that they aren’t just worried about who gets their piano and their stamp collection, what they really want is to make sure that everyone is taken care of (emotionally, physically, and financially) after they are gone.

It’s not always a simple conversation, but I try to make it easier. I’ve done this before, and can help to focus on issues that may never have even crossed their minds. Together we uncover the big picture, and come up with a plan that truly accomplishes their goals. They leave for their vacation confident that they have begun a relationship that will help them provide for their loved ones, protect their own wishes and desires, and preserve all that they have worked so hard to build.