Win Today with Christopher Cook

Get Unstuck. Reclaim Your Purpose. Win Today.

Why You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes

I love to win. I love to make an impact. And I love to know I’m doing exactly those two things, not for ego-stroking reasons, but simply because when I exert energy and passion into something, I want to see results.

But in that momentum, it’s easy to get all too comfortable when receiving a regular serving of “atta boys,” favorites, likes, and retweets.

Cue the music.

Funny How It All Goes Around

Last week, I was listening to the astounding vocal acrobatics of the one and only Tori Kelly. On her debut album, Unbreakable Smile, her song “Funny” played like a prophetic admonition to a situation I was about to face. With conviction and gritty Southern soul, Tori challenged, “Are you in it for the glory? What’s the purpose? What’s the gain? Everything you ever wanted got you tied up in chains. Be careful how you play the game.”

Though my motivation and ego were in check, I had a momentary fling with complacency. And I should have known. I should’ve listened.

Here’s the setup: I was having another record month for the third month straight. Website traffic was steadily climbing. My subscriber list was growing. I was recently invited to write for an international ministry magazine. And my writing was resonating with more people than I expected at this time of year.

I was stoked.

Life Support

Until I wrote a dud. A complete flat-line. And the worst part is that I thought it was a homerun, perhaps one of my best. How I was wrong. Was I trying too hard to be creative? Was I vague? Do I really suck? Have I run out of ideas and talent? Should I throw it all away? Is burrito-slinging a more viable calling? Who knows?

Suffice to say, I ate a big slice of humble pie a la freakin’ mode, and I’m glad I did. Coming down from the mountaintop sure does teach us the invaluable lesson that we cannot build our own kingdom from blessing, doesn’t it?

Listen to Me: You Have Permission to Make Mistakes

What is it for you? Is your career hitting the rocks? Are you a musician or singer who just had a terrible performance? Are you a parent who, out of exasperation, just took your words too far in disciplining your child? Have you knowingly brought up the past in order to be vindictive towards your spouse?

Listen. It happens. Right now, I’m giving you permission to be a fallible human being, not as an excuse, but as an explanation and a reason to never settle. The embarrassing moment will definitely pass, and thank God, tomorrow is a new day for a clean slate. But will you give yourself clearance to take a deep breath and leave the shame to today? Candidly, it took the afternoon for me to re-group. I wrote a dud and it stung. It was a blow to my “streak.” So what. I licked my wounds. It doesn’t mean I’m a dud.

The same goes for you. Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake. Now, I’m certainly not talking about casually shrugging off character flaws or moral failures. I’m talking about swinging and missing, aborting perfectionism, and cutting the cord on self-worth and confidence that’s tied solely to performance and accolades. So have your “miss-take,” clean up your mess and move on. In fact, I’d like to propose that coming-up short is actually the very gauge we need to keep us headed in the right direction to be our best.

Apple Knows the Drill

A benchmark of Apple’s success and innovation resides in their research and development department. They’re willing to try anything and even fail at anything while on the journey to creating beautiful, functional products. Did you catch the weight (and freedom) in that last sentence? In the development phase, they’re okay with less than perfection. It’s part of the game. They’re not afraid of failure because failure keeps them focused. Here, tweet that…

To confirm my suspicions further, I consulted with the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon. He was on to something when he said, “pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Was he forecasting a bad day? Not necessarily. More specifically, he was explaining the climate in which a complacent stroll down easy street sets us up for a solid face plant on concrete.

Now, before you bury your head in the sand, I’m not out to demonize you or me, or even condemn our attitudes. I’m just saying that we all can learn how to keep our priorities in check, stay out of complacency, expect to make mistakes, and most importantly, get better because of the mistakes. Quite unlike Pinterest.

Blame Pinterest

How many of you have a Pinterest account? Pinterest sets the bar really high—perhaps too high. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re doing something really great, but the polished project examples often create an expectation where failure just isn’t an option; but in truth, happens from time to time. Let the picture speak for itself:


This Pinterest fail is just like life, isn’t it? What we must know is that our flavor of perfection can create a problem for our long-term progress. Hear me once again: strive for excellence but don’t get hung-up on perfectionism. As you do, you’ll be able to relate to everyday people who are doing their best to be their best in a somewhat messy life.

In my recent experience, I learned six invaluable lessons from coming-up short; six lessons you too can apply to your life today:

  1. Making mistakes keeps your feet on the ground (and your head out of the clouds).
  2. Making mistakes keeps you hungry enough to never settle for complacency.
  3. Making mistakes keeps your expectations in check.
  4. Making mistakes keeps you grateful.
  5. Making mistakes keeps you humble.
  6. Making mistakes keeps you teachable.

Don’t get so caught up in the stats that you forget the reason you’re even in the game. It’s not to build a fortified kingdom unto yourself. It’s to add value to a world that needs your inbuilt significance at peak performance.

And after all that, I’m still a writer.


    “strive for excellence but don’t get hung-up on perfectionism” ow. ow ow. 😉 Thanks for the honesty and the reminder Chris!

    • Thanks, Megan. I need to remind myself of those words oh so often!

  • Kathy Craig

    This made me laugh so hard! A few incidents I’ve lived through pop up in my mind! And I got over them – eventually. Um….why did you have to post a picture of my baking inability?

    • Thanks, Kathy! I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this! Haha! And as for your baking…I just laughed out loud myself. Have you seen It’s hilarious!