“As we work toward whatever we think our goals are, I think we should
pay as much attention to our missteps as to our successes…and if at
first you don’t succeed, it might just be the best thing that ever
happened to you” -Lauren Redniss, TED Talk
This last line of her TED talk caught my attention and provoked me to watch the video again. I thought this underlying theme of making mistakes was really interesting.
One of the mistakes Redniss shares is the discovery of cyanotype chemicals, which happened to be one of many discoveries in science that occurred by accident.
What was really fascinating to me was when Redniss explained her use of these accidentally discovered chemicals to create an “accidental image”. She tried and tried to figure out the best way to portray Pierre Curie’s death in an image for her book, but nothing seemed to work. At one point during the process of making her book, she accidentally messed up the chemicals while printing an image for the book, creating an image where you cannot see anything from the original image. This mistake turned out to be the perfect image to represent Pierre’s death.
I think this relates well to what she says about paying attention to our mistakes in the above quote in that she did not throw out the paper just because she “screwed up” and misprinted her intended image, yet used her mistake in her successful book.
Learn more about the storyline of ‘Radioactive’, the process of creating the book, and much more by watching her TED talk, “Mistakes Have Been Made”.