How to succeed by accident?

success by accident

A shop located right in between two funeral parlors and named “The Body Shop” was bound to garner a lot of attention. This was just the one of the accidents,in the success story of Anita Roddick.

Two other decisions made by her, entirely out of necessity, turned in her favor. She painted the entire shop a bright green, the only color that covered the mold and she had a ‘refillable bottle policy’ because she did not have enough funds for bottles. Both these decision, elevated her shop into an environmentally friendly shop long before it was fashionable to be so.

Anita Roddick’s idea was not entirely new. In fact she was inspired by a health and beauty shop in Berkley, California, run by Peggy Short and Jane Saunders, also called ‘The Body Shop’ [1].

Anita Roddick did not market her products. It grew entirely by word of mouth. Today, it is a 800 million dollar company which is spread over 66 countries.

In her own words, “the original body shop was a series of brilliant accidents”.

Could it be then, that success is just an accident ? A quirk of fate?

What is success?

We are not going to talk about what success means to an individual. But what is generally considered to be successful.

Is success money? if so, Are you considered successful if you get rich by winning a lottery ? No.

Is success fame? Maybe. But if that is what it is, would you consider Van Gogh, who managed to sell just one painting during his lifetime and died penniless, successful? A genius – Yes. But successful – no.

So when we say “he is a successful businessman”, or “a successful artist” what does that mean?

Let me explain how, I understand success as. Success has three parts.

  1. Working to become the master at your craft.
  2. Recognition of your mastery.
  3. Continuing to grow.

During the first part, we toil in obscurity, with just our passion to succeed. You work hard at becoming a good writer or a good sales person or an athlete. The first part of the journey is littered with failures. Slowly we learn from our failures and grow.

The second part is where the accidents come in. And do you know why? Because it involves people, other than yourself. You can do everything right, and not get recognized. For getting recognized you need to relate to people, touch them, make their lives better in some way. And the tricky part is you never know when that happens. Most of the geniuses fail to get recognized during their lifetime, because their ideas are so far ahead of their time.

Have you ever read a book, been mildly interested in it. But reread it, at a different time, under different circumstances and found each word inspirational. Every sentence speaks to you and relates to you? We experience different things in a different way based on the experiences we are currently going through .

You will never know when your work might touch someones life. You just have to keep doing what you do, the best way you can.

Let’s see how an accident happens.

Can you get into an accident by lying in your comfortable bed watching TV? Getting into an accident is not passive. You have to be climbing a mountain, walking down the road or trying a bicycle trick to get into an accident. You don’t have to be doing something new. You can get into an accident by doing the normal things you do everyday. But you have to be doing something.

The frustrating thing about accidents is, you have to sit back and wait for it to happen.

How can you maximize the odds of getting into an accident?

  • You will have to take a risk and venture out.
  • Walk to the busiest road.
  • Have crazy, unconventional ideas like running across the road when the light is red.
  • Be brave enough to walk onto oncoming traffic.
  • Ignore the people cautioning you to be careful, or that something bad might happen.
  • Surprise the oncoming traffic.
  • Above all, you have to be so focused on getting to the other side of the road, that you did not notice that red car, on its way to hit you.

Put simply, you have to be there in the middle of the road, so focused on your goal that you didn’t have the time or energy to worry about when a car might hit you .

You will have to be out there, at all the right places, for success to find you at the right time. Success is something that hits you when you are too busy pursuing your goals. Just like the saying ” When the student is ready, the master will appear”, when you are ready, success will find you.

So, how did Anita Roddick succeeded?

Anita Roddick might have had lucky “accidents”, but she was successful because she understood the impacts of her accidents.

She understood how ethically sourced, cruelty free products touched people.

She understood the power of a story and how it connects to people. In her words, “Every product had a story – how I made it, what mistake I made, don’t worry about the black bits or the dirty foot prints..Lovely anecdotes”.

She focused on creating the best products and relating to people. And that is how she succeeded by accident .

Do you know of someone who succeeded by accident? What do you think success is? Let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you.

5 Comments

  1. arv!

    I agree that when you focus on what you are good at or what can work well rather than focus on not so good part, success will eventually come at your doorstep. Thanks for sharing this story on Bodyshop. Something new for me to read and learn.

    Liked by 1 person

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