You know, antibiotics are needed!
But what exactly can the story of the discovery of the antibiotic penicillin teach me, you might ask?
What if I tell you that this special story has to do with you having a meaningful life, making a difference and having hope in your life?
That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Just stay with me for now and you will see a surprising life lesson unfolding before you.
The heroic part of the story of discovering penicillin
There is no question that Alexander Fleming is considered one of the heroes of history, someone who changed the world and made a difference.
After all, because of Fleming’s discovery of penicillin thousands of lives have been saved and millions of people have been helped. Doors were opened for complicated surgeries, organ transplants and more. And Fleming himself won a Nobel Prize and became one of the most famous and celebrated men in history.
Someone you think you can never be.
You think you can never make a difference, be famous or change someone’s life.
You think only people as outstanding as Fleming can do so.
What if I tell you that Fleming was – but also wasn’t – that outstanding.
The story behind the story
Fleming’s story is much more than a heroic story of one smart man. It is much more than a scientific discovery story.
There is a story behind the story!
Fleming actually never planned to discover penicillin.
It was pure luck.
He was actually just growing some bacteria in little plates called Petri dishes for some kind of experiment. Being a little clumsy he forgot to put lids on some of the Petri dishes. And he also forgot to close the window properly.
As a result, mold from the surrounding fell into his Petri dishes.
Luckily, Fleming had a deep look into his Petri dishes instead of being embarrassed and throwing them away.
And interestingly, he saw that the mold had destroyed the bacteria in the Petri dishes.
Luckily, Fleming was able to realize that something extraordinary had happened in front of him.
Because the mold he saw was Penicillium notatum and it produced something we now call penicillin.
One sometimes finds
what one is not looking for
– Alexander Fleming
Realizing what happens
Does the fact that the discovery of penicillin was an accident make it less fascinating and less world-changing? Of course not! No matter how the discovery happened, lives were saved, people were helped and doors were opened.
The real strength and genius of Fleming were to realize and use what was happening in front of him. Imagine Fleming would not have realized the importance of penicillin, would have thrown it away and would have gone home?
He would not have been famous, antibiotics might have been discovered – but much later – and all the medical achievements would have been postponed.
And we would have missed our life lesson!
Hope, Patience & Opportunities
Because, if a man can make a world-changing discovery by being clumsy, then there is hope for each and every one of us to do something unthinkable. In our own world with all the special people around us, we can make a difference as well.
Maybe right now you feel hopeless, stuck, and unimportant or that your own potential is not recognized.
Please be patient.
Be patient with everything around you and with yourself as well.
In order to build something strong and sustainable, you have to invest time and energy now; but the results might not manifest themselves for a while.
It needs to be noted that Fleming’s discovery was published in a scientific paper but was not met right away by the big enthusiasm you might expect. It took some more years before the importance and value of penicillin was acknowledged, and methods were established (by other scientists) to produce enough penicillin to be used as medicine.
Look and find your own way and your own voice and be unique, might it be with writing, music, being an entrepreneur or any other kind of arts. Learn and practice your skills.
Expect the unexpected.
Be curious and look for opportunities in unexpected places. You just might be surprised at what you find.
If something extraordinary comes your way, be able to realize that. And then grab the opportunity and use what is in front of you.
If a man can make a world-changing discovery
by being clumsy,
then there is hope for each and every one of us to
do something unthinkable.
It gives hope that the real strength and genius of Fleming was to realize and grab the opportunity lying in front of him.
And it gives hope that you too can make use of your potential, make a difference and live a meaningful life by being patient, prepared and expecting the unexpected.
Over the centuries until now, there were many people who experienced this.
- About 60 years before Fleming another famous scientist, Louis Pasteur, stated out of his own experience:
‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’
- And 2000 years before that, philosopher Seneca, one of the smartest men in ancient Rome, understood the truth of hope, patience and opportunity:
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’
(Yes, it was Seneca! No matter what some quotes on the Internet tell you!)
- In our days, it was Oprah Winfrey who understood this truth and reconfirmed it:
“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.”
- And a now professional well-paid musician summed it up in his own words:
‘Without those hundreds of unpaid hours spent fiddling with my recording gear, I would not have found my own sound and my own approach. This required patience.’
I hope you have this patience and will one day realize the opportunities coming along!
pictures courtesy of orlandobodyfitdc & tiaharvey.com