The Benefits of Mistakes

A well-known example is the accidental discovery of pencillian.  Two other, but lesser known, examples are “Post-It Notes” and “Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

Post-It Notes, sometimes called sticky notes were invented until the early 70’s.  Art Fry,  trying to find a bookmark for his church hymnal that wouldn’t fall out or damage the page, experimented with an adhesive that a fellow colleage at 3M developed that was strong enough to stick but could easily be removed.  He applied some of the adhesive to the edge of a piece of paper and his “bookmarks” were born.  3M Corporation named them “Post-It-Notes and started producing them for commercial use.

An entirely different product — chocolate chip cookies — are said to also be a result of an accident in 1930.  Ruth Wakefield was whipping up a batch of Chocolate Butter Drop cookies to serve to her guests at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts.  Discovering she out of baker’s chocolate, she chopped up a block of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate that had been given to her.  Ruth expected the chocolate to melt and disperse through the cookie dough just as her regular baking chocolate did.  Instead, the chocolate pieces retained their individual form and softened into a moist gooey melt inside the cookie and her guests loved them.

Ruth called them “chocolate crunch cookies” but through the years became known as “Mrs. Wakefield’s Toll House Cookies” and today usually referred to as simply “Chocolate Chip Cookies.”   It is said that there are 7 billion chocolate chip cookies eaten in the United States every year, with about 50% of those homemade cookies.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” While fear of failure can often prevent us from trying new things, accepting mistakes as a part of life can have the opposite effect – freeing us up to pursue our goals without limitation.  So we make a mistake when we try something.  It’s not the end of the world.  Learn what you should have done differently and move on.  The next time you try something, it can be GREAT!

“Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving.
Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?”
Peter McWilliams

My sister once told me that everything I do or attempt to do is successful.  Of course, that’s not true.  I, too, make mistakes and have regrets.  I’m not going to share with you the mistakes I have made because I no longer think about them.  I try to learn from them and move on.  And I suggest that you do, too!


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