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Give coincidence a chance!

Albert ‘Beto’ Perez. Never heard of him? If I tell you that he’s the founding father of Zumba, it will definitely ring a bell. Zumba is a fitness program based on Latin American dance. A worldwide success. Yet, this hype is just a lucky shot!

More than often, coincidence plays a key role in our lives, but now and then, you need to lend it a hand. A positive attitude and lots of improvisation: often, that’s all you need to achieve a pioneering result.

When, halfway the nineties, Beto noticed that he had forgotten to bring along the right music for his aerobics class, he just could have made a U-turn. But he hasn’t. The class just took place and he used the music he had accidentally brought along. Suddenly, Zumba was born: fitness exercises comparable to aerobics, but on the rhythm of salsa, meringue, samba and cumbia. From Colombia, Perez conquered the whole world. Zumba doesn’t mean ‘moving fast and having fun’ for nothing!

Lucky shot
The same goes for penicillin. Alexander Fleming was doing research on staphylococci when he accidentally discovered the fungus Penicillium notatum on one of his matrices. He was surprised to notice that all bacteria around the fungus had disappeared... So, this was also a lucky shot, but one that has already saved thousands of human lifes!

The main idea in this column is simple. Each day, we make mistakes and there are always things that fail or don’t run like we had expected. At such moments, you especially need to hold your head high, even if it might sound a little sticky. It’s obvious that you won’t manage to turn each failure into a success. But bear in mind that in this kind of situations, creative people with a positive attitude are always privileged.

Alberto could have just gone home and Alexander might have thrown away his moldy plates. But they haven’t. They deliberately chose to deal with the new situation in a creative way. For instance, did you know that the glue used on post-its had actually been created when something had gone wrong during the production of a strong adhesive tape?

Just try!
  • Think positive. Also try to look at your failures from another viewpoint.
  • Be creative. Think in terms of solutions, not in terms of failures.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them.
  • Just try and hang on! If you believe in yourself, luck will automatically be on your side.
One day, I was visiting customers in Singapore, together with a sales manager. She told me that she had been trying to find healthier aromas for jellies, a kind of gelatin dessert, for a long time already. However, she couldn’t create this ‘bio jelly’… Until she came up with the solution herself (during our working visit, nota bene): a combination of ‘jelly-powder’ and tea! Both elements were already in her assortment, but this unexpected combination led to the breakthrough.

This lady didn’t keep complaining about the slow R&D process. On the contrary: her positive attitude just enabled her to create a new product: jellies with a base of delicious bio tea!

Have a nice weekend!


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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