There are no mistakes

A good friend of mine used to say that there are no mistakes. He is a painter and his wisdom came from occasionally dropping a blob of paint on the canvas and having no choice but to work around it. The results were so good that soon he would start dropping blobs or splashing paint on the canvas and then start working around them. Mind you, splashing is not enough, he would spend weeks meticulously creating beautifully abstract worlds around his early mishaps. This led to some of his greatest works.

Wonderful lessons

This is not a new idea but I think I have a fresh take on it. Sure, mistakes can be framed like wonderful lessons if they have eventually led to success. Presuming the protagonist has learned from them and has subsequently done great things.

So, I would like to reshape my friends’ words to: There are no mistakes if you embrace them, learn from them, and use them as building blocks.

Oops, I dropped the lemon tart

One of my favorite examples of someone doing just that gave the name of this post: Oops, I dropped the lemon tart. This is the name of a dessert in Osteria Francescana, where chef Massimo Bottura and his team turn food into art and run one of the best restaurants in the world.

How did the Lemon Tart become “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart”?

One late night someone ordered the last two Lemon Tarts for dessert. There were only two left and as the chef was taking one off the expo line he dropped it on the counter. The desert splattered. There was no way to serve it. But inspiration struck and the chef and his team decided to treat it as an abstract painting. They artfully smashed the other tart, added some sauce and garnish around to both, and served them. 

The guests loved it. And this is how “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart” was born. It’s created a movement of sorts when it comes to plating food. 


It is hard to frame mistakes as lessons. But sometimes if digested properly they can turn into something beautiful. This is not general advice for mistakes and will not always work. But keeping this kind of thinking in your back pocket can come in handy.