Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” If you are ready to take on happy accidents when they occur, you can take advantage of opportunities you may never have had otherwise.

The world is full of examples of happy accidents, from one of the most important medical discoveries in history (penicillin) to a quirky invention (Velcro). Countless real-world examples, like missing the subway but meeting your future husband on the next one, show that mistakes sometimes work out. Get lost on a road trip and discover the place where locals really eat. Miss changing your clocks for Daylight Saving Time and come an hour early for a meeting, only to have a fascinating conversation with a stranger who made the same mistake.

In Steve Drake’s article on happy accidents, “Good Miss Could be Association Success Strategy,” he adds an association story to the list. Viewing these “problems” as wins-in-the-making is a positive way to approach your association—and your life. The failure-as-opportunity message seems tired because we need to be reminded that it’s true.

Next time you have a “good miss,” try wrapping your mind around it a different way. Focus on one potential problem in your organization and be pleasantly surprised when solving it leads to an improvement in another area, too.

For example, you might add a mobile event app and see an unexpected, unintentional increase in traffic to your event website. Offer an online class and see a spike in face-to-face class registrations.

Seize the opportunities that come along accidentally and capitalize on them. Add new content to your event website. Offer blended learning at in-person continuing education training.

What happy accidents have you seen in your career? Can you think of other historical examples, like corn flakes and the pacemaker? Once you see how many good misses turn into real innovations, you’ll have an easier time spotting them in your own life.

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