On May 24, 2002, I happened to see a Breaking News story on CNN about an apartment building in Los Angeles that had suffered an explosion. The immediate cause was unknown, but when they reported the address, I panicked.

This was the building where my daughter Jennie, her partner Hector and their pug Emmit lived. I called Jennie’s phones, but got no answer on either.

The next forty-five minutes were the longest of my life. Finally the call came saying they were fine.

They had stepped out to run an errand just before the explosion occurred.  Even though they didn’t normally take Emmit with them, that day they decided he needed an outing.

The next few weeks were chaotic since the building was uninhabitable. Jennie and Hector had to quickly find a new apartment, although most of their possessions were impounded in the old place. It was months before things settled down.

By May 24, 2003, Jennie and Hector were the new owners of a gorgeous house that came with a magnificent backyard garden. As the three of us sat on the patio, we began talking about the dramatic events of a year earlier.

“That was the best day of my life,” said Hector, “Although I didn’t know it at the time.”  None of us knew, of course, that the horrible events of that day would mysteriously lead to this wonderful new home.

Almost everyone has a story about a loss or disappointment that turned out to be a blessing. The tricky part, for most of us, is to recognize that when our plans go awry, there may be greater forces at work.

Although it can be challenging, it’s important to keep looking for the opportunities that may be hidden behind a disappointment—or even a disaster.

That can be easier to do if we remember that everything doesn’t have to go right in order to ultimately succeed. If a plan unfolds without a hitch it might be wise to be suspicious. After all, dreams are here to teach us how to be more, not just to have more.

Stewart Emery  tells a story about flying in the cockpit of a plane going to Hawaii and learning that every flight is a series of corrections. He says, “If we could see that we can get a 747 to Hawaii, having been in error 90 percent of the time, we might be a little less uptight about being in error ourselves…Somehow people have the notion that they are going to get away from failure, that they are going to succeed enough never to fail again. That option is simply not available; it is like trying to eat once and for all.”

Before you encounter another delay or disappointment, decide to challenge yourself to find opportunities that are hidden, along with those which are obvious.

While you’re at it, give yourself permission to be in error much of the time. Know that ultimate success is a process of accumulation and that you’ll accumulate both victories and defeats along the way.

Or just memorize these words from Paulo Coehlo: “Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go the price is always the same: in both cases we will pass through both difficult and happy moments.

“But when we are living our dreams, the difficulties that we encounter make sense.”