Just before Christmas last year, Rob Anderson went into a convenience store to purchase three $1 Powerball lottery tickets as stocking stuffers. The clerk misunderstood Anderson’s request and erroneously printed one $3 ticket. When Anderson called the mistake to the clerk’s attention, the clerk offered to nullify the ticket. Anderson decided to just go with the current of events, he accepted the ticket, and purchased the three stocking stuffers in addition. Rob went home and tossed the mistaken ticket on his nightstand.
The day after Christmas the winning numbers were announced and Anderson figured he would check the mistaken ticket just in case. That was when he realized the mistake was no mistake. He had just won $128 million, the largest Powerball jackpot ever paid in the Kentucky lottery.
Sometimes what seems to be going wrong is really going right. From a human perspective it may appear that things are working against you, when they are really working for you. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant for what errors might lead to.
When my friend Stephanie visits her parents every year at Thanksgiving, one of the highlights of the family’s traditional meal is “Mistake Salad.” “Many years ago mom was preparing a salad using a cookbook,” Stephanie explained to me. “When mom finished, she realized that she had accidentally merged the recipes for two different salads ― one portion of the ingredients for a salad described on the left open page of the cookbook, and another portion from a different salad described on the right open page. The salad turned out better than any other salad we had had, so now she replicates it every year as the famous ‘Mistake Salad.’”
Speaking of salads, have you ever heard how the famous Caesar Salad began? Cesar Cardini was the working in a small restaurant near a tiny airport near Tijuana, Mexico. One night during a rush of customers, the kitchen ran out of salad ingredients. When the next salad order came in, Cardini threw together whatever scant ingredients he had on hand. Behold the birth of one of the world’s most popular salads! (Originally it was called “The Aviator.”)
Robert Louis Stevenson noted, “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.” Yet what is a poor hand, but a good hand in the making? What is a minus, but half of a plus waiting for a stroke of vertical awareness? And what is an error, but something to parlay to create something far more valuable than what would have come had the error not occurred? As Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “A weed is a plant whose virtues have not been discovered.”
All of life is interpretation. It is not the events that occur that make or break a life, but your interpretation of them. You can make anything out of anything, so why not make it what you would choose?
Years ago I was looking for a new location for my office. I found a site that was suitable but not great. In expedience I decided to rent it, and I asked the realtor to get me a contract. The realtor kept delaying and delaying, unto just a few days before I had to move. When I asked him about the contract he confessed that the owner did not want to rent to me because he had seen one of my books and he did not agree with my philosophy. I grew angry and complained about discrimination. Yet when I consulted my inner guidance, it advised me to simply let it be.
That day as I was driving home I decided to take an alternate scenic route. Along the way I noticed a storefront for rent. When I inquired, I found the owner to be a lovely woman who had been using the space for tai chi classes. We liked each other immediately and I rented the space. The facility was in a beautiful area, close to my home, with more space and far less rent than the space from which I had been turned away. Ultimately I blessed the original landlord for denying me. He was the vehicle by which I received something greater.
Life is trying to love you, and apparent mistakes may ultimately serve you. It is said that “disappointments are the hooks upon which God hangs his victories.” Nothing ever gets so bad that it cannot get good, and often the good that comes after the bad is greater than the good that came before it.
The next time you encounter a mistake, Rob Anderson would be a good guy to remember. As he deposits his annual checks for millions of dollars, he would probably suggest that we, too, do not resist errors, but let them work in our favor.