One day in Battle Creek, MI, Will Kellogg accidentally left some boiled wheat sitting out on the table. By the time he came back, it had become stale. Instead of throwing it away, he and his brother (John Kellogg) sent it through rollers, hoping to make long sheets of dough, but they got flakes instead. They toasted the flakes, which were a big hit! You can probably guess the rest of the story…
So how does an accident turn into a discovery? In most cases, the cereal would have been thrown away. There are many examples of accidental discoveries, ranging from potato chips to play-dough. So why is it that some accidents become breakthroughs?
Persevere. Trix the Rabbit never gave up and neither should you. (He actually did eat Trix… twice as a matter of fact). Charles Goodyear (Goodyear Tire is named after him) spent most of his life trying to successfully vulcanize rubber.
Disruptive Thinking. Take a lesson from Cookie Crisp. Who would have thought of eating cookies for breakfast? Don’t accept the status quo. Often unconventional thinking leads to new approaches.
Innovation and Creativity. Want to know about a creative marketing scheme? A Cornell University study finds that the cartoon characters on cereals marketed to kids are routinely designed so their eyes are shifted downward. That’s the perfect angle to make eye contact with a child standing in the aisle. Change the name on the cereal box? Nope. Change the colors on the box? Nope. Shift the characters’ eyes 9.6 degrees down? Yep. Edison’s accidental discovery of electricity and Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin was a result of creativity fueled by inspiration and innovative methods. Innovation and creativity can not only ignite new breakthroughs, but can also refuel a dwindling flame.
Curiosity. Toucan Sam chose to follow his nose, because he claimed it always knows. There are a lot of people who will smell fruit loops, but will not follow the scent. Entertain your curiosity. Go ahead and follow your nose, it will lead to something fruitful.
The next time your cereal gets soggy and you are tempted to throw it away, pause and reflect what our cereal friends have taught us. You might just say “They’re Grrrreat!”