Have you ever set out to do something and… failed… but the result was something even better than you could have hoped for? That’s what we call a happy accident.
Happy accidents occur when we don’t necessarily take failure at face value. We may be disappointed by an outcome, but we see through to its potential – to the unanticipated possibilities that it represents. Creativity engineer, Roger von Oech, reminds us to “expect the unexpected;” he says that often what we were looking for leads us to something much different.
In business, we see this in common products we use every day like 3M Post-It Notes (the adhesive was originally intended to provide a permanent bond), insulin (discovered when flies buzzed to a biology lab and congregated on a dissected canine pancreas… ew… but, also, oh!), and Play-Doh (originally intended as a wallpaper cleaner).
For our purposes, happy accidents happen frequently in relationships. Passing interactions… unexpected encounters… unanticipated correspondences lead to opportunities.
- Perhaps you worked on a project with a colleague and several years – and several job changes – later that same individual thinks to hire you to work with them on an initiative at their new company. Unexpected.
- Maybe you had some unplanned free time between meetings, decided to take a detour to a local coffee shop and ran into a friend who had important information to share. Unexpected.
- Or, did an innocent coffee date turn into a job interview of sorts which led to a major career shift? Unexpected.
Possibility lurks around every corner… you simply must be open to it… to expect the unexpected… to leverage opportunities as they present themselves.
Oops! = Opportunities!