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There are accidental inventions, then there's you

July 25, 2014

Who discovered that a cow can produce milk? I mean, what made him (I’m assuming it must have been a he) think that if he pulled on those four hanging pink things they would produce a liquid that can be drank? I don’t know and I have not researched on this but my guess is that this discovery was made by accident, just like most of the inventions we enjoy today were accidental discoveries.

Did you know that the most famous carbonated soft drink in the world, Coca Cola, was initially supposed to be a medical remedy for severe headaches? This happened when pharmacist John Pemberton dumped together a bunch of ingredients into a kettle in the process creating a recipe that still remains a secret today.

Did you know that potato chips (or crisps like some call them) were as a result of one picky, dissatisfied customer? This customer repeatedly sent his order of fried potatoes back to the chef complaining that they were too soggy and thick. The chef got so fed up that he decided to literally make the potato chips extremely thin, frying them and covering them in salt. To his surprise, the customer liked this and voila, the famous snack was born.

Did you know that champagne was also discovered by accident? It was actually supposed to be bottled wine but unfortunately (or fortunately) here were severe climatic changes that affected the fermentation process. The effect of the weather changes caused inconsistent fermentation leading to formation of carbon dioxide in the wine i.e. the bubbles we see in champagne today.

How about those chocolate chip cookies we love so much; did you know they were as a result of a dessert recipe gone wrong? Ruth Graves Wakefiled was baking a chocolate dessert when she ran out of her regularly used chocolate and had to dump in semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. The chips did not melt as planned but instead, a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies was born.

How about chewing gum, did you know it was supposed to be natural latex. What happened is that Thomas Adams was trying to create a rubber replacement out of natural latex but all his attempts failed. In overwhelming frustration, he put a piece of the latex in his mouth and to him amazement he discovered that the flexible material was surprisingly enjoyable to chew on. He began adding flavours and by 1888, the name “chewing gum” was coined.

You will notice that all the above mentioned “mistakes” are about food and drinks. But that’s not the only area accidental inventions have happened. Take for instance the microwave; did you know that the person who invented this incredible time saving kitchen appliance was making a vacuum cleaner when he accidentally discovered that the thing he was making was melting the chocolate in is pocket? Since then, the kitchen has not been the same again thanks to the microwave.

Did you know that Kotex was supposed to be used for healing and dressing wounds during World War I? However many Red Cross nurses found that the product also made great feminine care protection pads i.e. what we refer to as sanitary pads/towels today.

How about the modelling clay we buy our children to play with at home or in school, did you know that it was supposed to be wallpaper cleaner? Play-Doh as it was first called originated as wallpaper cleaner produced and sold by Noah McVicker’s soap company, Kutol products. Over time, the mouldable substance became very popular among schoolteachers who used it for classroom arts and crafts, forcing the company to repackage and re-market the product as a play item for children.

There are many other inventions that I have not listed here but if you google them, you will be amazed at what you will find. Viagra for instance was invented by mistake. Corn Flakes were also an accidental invention. Popsicles (flavoured ice on a stick) were also an accidental invention. Slinky, the wandering spring was also an accidental invention, just like fireworks were invented accidentally. The post-it sticky notes commonly used in offices were also an accidental invention.

I don’t know but at his rate I am inclined to think that every invention we see today was stumbled upon by accident. That’s why I started by asking who came up with the idea that if he tugged on the cow’s tits they would produce milk; he must have done that by accident.

However, all said and done, one thing I am sure of is that you and I were no accident; God intended for you to be exactly where you are today. We were placed on this earth for a purpose because we have a mission to fulfil in this world. The sperm that fathered you did not beat millions of other sperms just to produce a meaningless purposeless human being. No. Unfortunately most of us have let the devil fill our minds with fear and lies and as a result, we end up giving up on life before we can even discover what our role in this world really is. We allow the challenges of life to frustrate us and demoralize us to the point of regretting being alive; we conclude that life is meaningless, not knowing that this conclusion is so far from the truth. I've added a video clip at the end of this article  that is proof of what I am saying. Please don't forget to watch it.

Moving on, did you know that if you discovered what your purpose in this life is your view of life would change completely? You would be a happier person, energized and full of life. You would have something to look forward to every day you wake up. You would have a reason to be alive. When you finally find out what your purpose on earth is, you will realize that you enjoy doing what you are doing and to the amazement of many, you will seem like you never tire even though you may work long hours and go through many challenges. What drives you is seeing that you have achieved your mission.  When you believe that you are here on earth for a reason, your purpose will become greater than all your challenges combined.

Unfortunately most of us lead fake lives. Yes, I said it. We live fake lives because we want to emulate what others are doing, instead of finding our own paths and following them. As a result, we become so frustrated, so unhappy, so dissatisfied with life that it loses meaning to us. This is not supposed to be the case. Why not try to live your life as you and stop living it as someone else? Like John Mason said a while back, You were born an original. (Please) don’t die a copy

Can you imagine if Steve Jobs the late had decided to live someone else’s life? I wonder whether we would be having any Apple products today. What about Martin Cooper, the genius behind the mobile phone, what if he had given up on his life and opted to live someone else’s life? I wonder how telecommunications would be right now.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that as long as we are on this planet, every one of us has a role to play, a gap to fill, a mission to achieve and a purpose to fulfil. Do not let yourself leave this world without achieving your purpose. Like I once said in another article, someone else’s life probably depends on you fulfilling your life’s purpose. Someone somewhere in this world is probably waiting for you to put your act together so that they can achieve their purpose too.  Like Robert Bryne said, “the purpose of life is a life of purpose”.

Question to you this week is, are you living your life with a purpose, or are you meandering through the streets of life purposeless? This week I urge you to look deeper into yourself and answer this question (to yourself) honestly. 

Remember, your life has a purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams are valid and your voice matters because you were born to make an impact.

Wishing you all a purpose-filled week and life.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 20th July, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". However, I have made some changes to accommodate the video clip menitoned above. Please take time to watch it and I promise you that if you have been undervaluing yourself, you will not view yourself the same way again.



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