Columbia Daily Tribune:

We’ve come to realize that inside most people is an entrepreneur – or at least the desire to create or do something that will solve a problem, change the way we live or at least make money.

That’s human nature.

It’s the old “Why didn’t I think of that?” phenomenon. There are lots of ideas, and, interestingly enough, the people who have them often didn’t start out with that idea in mind. It just happened.

That led me to think about some of the most famous innovations that we enjoy today and how they came about almost by accident.

Of course, one of the most famous is penicillin, which was the result of a 1928 laboratory experiment mistakenly left out on a table. It grew a fungus that later became the treatment for a wide range of life-threatening infections.

Post-It Notes had their beginning in a church choir. Spencer Silver, a researcher for the 3M Corp., had developed an adhesive that could be removed easily. His fellow church choir member, Arthur Fry, was frustrated that the book marks in his hymnal kept falling out. He applied some of Silver’s adhesive, and the miracle office staple was born.

And what baby boomer grew up without a Slinky? This happy accident originally was a spring on the desk of marine engineer Richard James. The spring got knocked off the desk and demonstrated, for the first time, its entertainment value as it tumbled repeatedly across the floor.

While it appears that these “Eureka!” moments came out of nowhere, the fact is that a great deal of work occurs both before and after the moment of discovery. The truth is that the more you work, study and attempt, the better you are able to see the opportunity when it does appear.

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