Mistakes are often seen as something that should never have been done. However, a more empowering view is that mistakes are things that didn’t turn out as planned. They might also be accompanied by regret, but not always.
Many mistakes turn out to be for the best. In fact, some mistakes unexpectedly solve problems and end up being better than the original plan. Below are 5 times mistakes turned out to be a blessing.
1. Accidental Tootsie Rolls saved U.S. Marines during the Korean war
When the First Marine Division ran out of ammunition in subfreezing temperatures, the troops radioed in for a delivery of 60mm mortar ammunition by the code name: “Tootsie Rolls.” The radio operator didn’t know what “Tootsie Rolls” was code for, but called in the order anyway. The Marines were surprised when pallets of Tootsie Roll candies were dropped from the sky.
The Marines were happy to have a little more flavor in their life, but they also used warmed up Tootsie Rolls to plug bullet holes. There’s no doubt, all those Marines viewed that radio operator as a legend for years to come.
During the Korean war, Tootsie Rolls only came in one flavor: chocolate. Today, Tootsie Rolls come in assorted flavors including cherry, vanilla, lemon, lime, and orange. The main recipe hasn’t changed and the texture still feels like a cross between caramel and taffy. And, if you need to seal a hole, you can warm up the flavor of your choice and use it as a plug.
2. Penicillin was created accidentally
Perhaps it’s a bit misleading to say that penicillin was created accidentally. When penicillin was first discovered, the inventor, Sir Alexander Fleming, was attempting to find a cure for disease. However, he discovered penicillin when he threw away all of his experiments he thought had failed.
Fleming looked at his discarded petri dishes and noticed one in which mold was dissolving the bacteria. He grew the mold in isolation and soon discovered it contained antibiotic properties.
3. Chocolate chip cookies were not created on purpose
Who would have thought the beloved chocolate chip cookie wasn’t created on purpose? It’s true. Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Tollhouse Inn, was baking chocolate cookies when she ran out of baking chocolate. She found some sweetened chocolate and added broken pieces to the cookie dough, thinking the chocolate would melt into the cookies.
When the cookies were baked, the chocolate hadn’t melted completely. However, they tasted delicious and the chocolate chip cookie was born.
Today, the Tollhouse brand is legendary for its baked goods.
4. The pacemaker was created accidentally
Anyone who has received an implantable pacemaker can thank a little accident for extending their lives.
After leaving the Navy, a medical researcher named Wilson Greatbach began building an oscillator that would record heartbeats. He needed a resistor for his project, so he reached into a box and grabbed the wrong resistor. After creating his oscillator, he noticed it generated a rhythmic pulse of electricity. In that moment, Greatbach realized that radio frequencies could be used to start a heart that had stopped beating. His “aha” moment led to the creation of the implantable Pacemaker.
Prior to Greatbach’s discovery, pacemakers existed, but they were huge, non-implantable, and sent an electric shock through the patient’s body.
5. Post-It Notes rule offices, but were created on accident
Perhaps one of the most expensive happy accidents is the Post-It Note. When a lab researcher from 3M named Spender Silver set out to create a strong adhesive, he ended up creating what could be considered the world’s weakest adhesive. However, this adhesive stuck to certain objects and was easy to remove without leaving a mess.
Many years later, Silver’s colleague applied the weak adhesive to cut up pieces of paper to mark places in his choir book and eventually the Post-It Note became an official product. It’s hard to imagine any office or entrepreneur functioning without these sticky notes.
You can’t call it a mistake if it turned out for the best
After reading about all of these ‘mistakes’ that changed the world, it’s hard to keep calling them mistakes. Perhaps after reading these stories, you’ll start to view your own unintentional yet positive results in a better light. If things turned out for the best, it can’t be considered a mistake.