This incident happened during the later part of 1800s, in Bengal when Sri Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and his few friends were busy collecting donations to start Calcutta University.
One day Vidyasagar stopped at the door of the palace of Nawab of Ayodhya. Nawab was not exactly known to be a generous person and many people tried to dissuade Vidyasagar from taking this mission.
Vidyasagar met Nawab and presented his cause. On hearing Vidyasagar’s plea, Nawab got up, pulled one of his shoes and dropped in Vidyasagar’s bag for donation. Vidyasagar did not say a word. He simply got up, thanked Nawab and left.
Next day Vidyasagar organised auction of Nawab’s shoe in front of his palace. Lot of Nawab’s knights , Jahagirdars, court members, who wanted to impress Nawab started bidding. By the mid afternoon the shoe was sold for Rs 1000.
Nawab, happy to hear that his shoe fetched Rs 1000, matched the auction money. He added his own Rs. 1000 as donation.
When the destiny dropped a shoe in his basket, Vidyasagar could have walked out furious. He could have thrown the shoe on Nawab as revenge of insult. He could have got depressed and gone home and cried that nobody is willing to give him donation and given up his efforts to raise donation for the university.
But he did nothing of that sort. He remained focused on the main goal. He rose above his personal feelings, ego, and insecurities and exploited the situation creatively. He rose above his insecurities and exploited that of others around him. He took that shoe and converted it to the biggest donation to University of Culcutta. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar converted his on-face insult and resulting disappointment into a Rs. 2000 donation plus a pleased Nawab who could be of some assistance at some point later.
Calcutta University became a reality. It became a center of education for fine arts, social studies, science and technology.
Throughout our life, we will come across situations that will bring disappointment, anger, frustration, depression. But most of the times, there will be a way we can use this situation to our advantage if we remain focused on our real objective, if we engage in introspection, and if we find a creative solution by thinking outside the box.
Next time when destiny hands over you a shoe when you were expecting treasures, take that as a challenge to your creativity, not as an insult to your ego. Next time you get a lemon, don’t make lemonade, try to convert it into a jackpot.