How to turn bane into a boon?

What if I said the many things that changed aren’t really planned. I believe people shaped the world by reacting in the right way to mistakes, accidents, and incidents. Let’s start with a story where a bane becomes a boon. It is from Mahabaratha. It is one of my favorite pieces of literature of all time.

It is about Arjuna, a superhuman, son of a god named Indra. Indra is the king of Indralok(Heaven). Arjuna stays in the Indralok to learn the use of celestial weapons for the upcoming war in his life. After he learned to use every weapon, he plans to leave. He reaches his father and informs him that he has decided to depart home. Indra advises Arjuna to learn music and dance. He tells him, “Art is a powerful weapon.” Arjuna agrees with his father and starts learning music and dance from Chitrasen and Urvashi.

Urvashi is an Apsara (nymph). She was a celestial maiden in God’s court and was considered the most beautiful of all the Apsaras. She is perennially youthful and infinitely charming but always elusive. She is known for her beauty which has broken the penance of sages. Urvashi means someone who controls the heart ( “Ur” means heart and “Vash” means control).

Ever since Arjuna’s arrival to Indralok, Indra has seen his growing fascination for Urvashi. This made Indra form the impression that Arjuna was attracted to her. Thus Indra called upon Chitrasen and asked him to invite Urvashi for an alliance with his son. When Urvasi hears about Arjuna’s desire for her, she is overjoyed.

Arjuna refusing Uravshi's advances
Arjuna refusing Uravshi's advances

Urvashi dressed her in best attire, with scented flowers bedecking her long hair. Urvashi goes to Arjun chamber that night. He greeted her most respectably. Now he is confused about her visit in the darkest hour of the night. He inquires her what her purpose of visit at this time. Urvashi confessed her love to him and told him she wish to have an alliance with him. On hearing her words, he got shaken up. He replies, “I see a mother and guru in you. Please forgive me. To you, I can only become a son and not a man. Always a son, never a man.”

This angered Urvasi and she yelled this at her top of voice, “What did you say? Mother? An Apsara is neither anyone’s mother nor anyone’s wife. I am the epitome of beauty. The gods stand in the queue to get my company and you being a mortal, how dare you defy me.” She curses him by saying, “Henceforth you would not desire any women. You would become impotent and will lead the life of a eunuch for next year.”

He needs to live in exile without being identified as who he is for the next year. He reminds of the curse that he inherited from Urvashi. He turns his bane into a boon. He takes the form of “Brihannala“, a eunuch who teaches dancing lessons and spent the year in disguise.

Many people got their name in history by their mistakes both in good and bad ways. Let’s be optimistic and see the good outcomes out of mistakes not the bad. I am being a software developer most of my learnings are from mistakes. I agree it can’t be afforded in every industry. But the mistake is what shapes us and teaches us many things. We make mistakes and get ourselves into chaos. Whenever I hear the word chaos. The quote that comes to my mind is, “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” It’s said by Petyr Baelish, a fictional character in the Game of thrones.

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.
Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

People who saw chaos as a ladder climbed it and got them landed on success. A good number of features we see in software are born out of mistakes. We all must have come across the feature hidden files. It was first introduced in Linux. Lately, other companies implemented this feature in their OS. This feature is born out of a bug(a flaw in a computer program). There is a popular saying in software development, “Bug becomes a feature.”

Let see some history pages. If someone said the soft drink. The brand that strikes our mind is Coca-Cola. Dr. Pemberton, the inventor of coca-cola, gets wounded in a war. He gets addicted to morphine. On seeking a cure for his addiction he researched morphine-free painkillers as an alternative to morphine. Eventually, in his experiment, he created the recipe for coca-cola accidentally.

Similarly, In 1853, in a New York restaurant, when a customer complained that the fried potatoes were too soggy and thick, and repeatedly sent them back to the waiter, the chef George Crum got so fed up, that he took the request for a thinner potato quite literally- he cut the potatoes into thin slices, fried them deeply, and covered them in salt. And, Voila! The most favorite snack in the world was born!

So the next time you are angry- you might possibly change the world.

Isaac Asimov said it best, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny …’ ”

In 1879, after a long day of working with coal tar, chemist Constantin Fahlberg came home to have dinner with his wife without washing his hands first. While eating his meal, Fahlberg noticed that everything he put in his mouth had a sweet taste, and discovered that the saccharin on his hands was responsible.

Who knew being dirty could pay off so well?

In 1928, Penicillin was one of the world’s first antibiotics, but the man who discovered it Dr. Alexander Fleming never actually meant to “revolutionize all medicine,” as he later described it. Rather, Fleming came across the antibiotic entirely by chance when he left out cultures of Staphylococcus aureus in his lab for two weeks and returned to find that their growth had been prevented by a mold called Penicillium notatum.

Similarly, Bubble wrap, Safety pin, Matches, Implantable pacemaker, Teflon, Chewing gum, Dynamite, and the list goes on.

We can’t simply say it was just a piece of odd luck. Everything happens for a purpose. It’s all about how you react to it. They saw an opportunity, used it, and defined themselves. Dr. Pemberton could have thrown the recipe of coca-cola kept working on his morphine-free painkiller. He saw something in that, changed his goal and the rest is history. Even Alexander Fleming said this in his noble lecture, “Penicillin started as a chance observation. My only merit is that I did not neglect the observation…”

It’s okay to take turns. It’s okay to redefine your destiny. Making mistakes is far better than being afraid to make one. No matters how many mistakes you make, remember you are still a way ahead of who isn’t trying. Leaning from mistakes is much compared to learning from success. Dare to make mistakes. The one stupid mistake that you make will change everything. In the future when someone writes like this your name could be on the list.