Here is a story told by Ron Magill in his episode of “My Favorite Mistake.”
I realize that’s a photo of a giraffe.
The title of the post would have had better alliteration with Accident and Alligator… but so it goes.
Here is my write-up of his story… something I decided just didn’t fit the flow of the book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation.
Ron Magill is a zoologist and communications director of the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens. When Ron was a young zoologist, he recalled he was cocky and “got a little careless” when moving some crocodiles.
A crocodile bit Ron’s right hand, jerking it back and forth, nearly ripping it off. Thankfully, somebody nearby was able to pry the croc’s mouth open with a shovel. Ron was sent to the hospital with open wounds and exposed bones. A surgeon skillfully put his hand back together, sending Ron to start physical therapy after a few days of hospital recovery.
How could something positive result from nearly losing one’s hand?
When Ron saw the therapist walk in, he thought he “had died and gone to heaven.” A year later, he and that therapist got married, and 32 years later, with two grown kids, he’s still married to the love of his life. He has full use of that hand, and he learned an important lesson about not getting careless around wild animals.
My Less Dramatic Story About the Happy Accident of Meeting My Wife
When I inevitably get asked about my favorite mistakes, one of my stories also answers the question, “How did you meet your wife?” After graduating from my master’s program in 1999, I took a job with Dell Computer. The work was interesting and very fulfilling at times, but it didn’t take long to decide that the company wasn’t a great fit for me long-term. It wasn’t my biggest mistake, but it was a happy accident because I met my wife while working at Dell. The circumstances are certainly less exciting (and less painful) than Ron’s story, but I made the best of my career mistake and I’m thankful for that positive outcome (after more than 21 years of marriage).
This isn’t a book about how to stumble into finding your partner — let’s take a look at a company that has a culture of learning from mistakes, whether the mistakes are made by their employees or their suppliers.
There are a few “happy accident” stories in the book… check it out!