Have You Messed Up Lately? Then You Need to Hear This…

In this post: I share a recent mistake and how we can focus on progress not perfection. Also, why we’re all more likely to struggle right now and what we can do about it. And more resources to help you move onward and upward today.


I stand in front of the mirror and ask my reflection, “How could you have done that?” I think back to an incident yesterday where I was not at my best. As much as I want to, I can’t take back the words I said. Why did I let my emotions get the best of me again?

I’ve done hard work in the area where I messed up. I’ve read books. Talked to my counselor and good friends. Prayed about it and written reminders of truth in my journal. In this moment it feels as if it’s all been for nothing. Have you ever been there too?

Then I recall a moment from graduate school. My professor stands at the board and draws a series of hills and valleys. He says, “People think growth is a straight line and that if they fail, they slide down it all the way back to the bottom.”

He points at the mountain he’s just drawn and says, “But this is what growth actually looks like. It’s a series of peaks and valleys. When we mess up, yes, we experience a valley. But we need to remember that valley doesn’t mean we’re back at the beginning. We’re so much higher up than when we began.”

As I recall his words, my perspective starts to shift. Yes, I messed up again. But I recognized it sooner and made it right faster than I would have years ago. That is what it means to grow.

I think all of us are in a valley we never expected right now because of Covid-19. Our routines have been disrupted. The rhythms of our lives altered. We’re dealing with stress and fear we couldn’t have imagined a few months ago. Here’s the reality: We’re going to mess up. Especially in the areas of our biggest struggles.

When this happens, we can tell ourselves that we have completely blown it. The progress we thought we’d made isn’t real. We can become our own worst critics. Or we can remember the mountain my professor drew.

David, the Psalmist and a man who experienced many peaks and valleys, said poetically…

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God.
Psalm 84:5-7

My favorite phrase in this is, “they go from strength to strength.” We, as humans, can so easily feel we go from weakness to weakness. But that isn’t true. Because of Jesus, even on our worst days, in our weakest moments, we are still moving onward and upward. We are still going Home.

So let’s be gentle with ourselves, especially now. If we find ourselves in a valley let’s remember we have not completely failed. We are not starting over. We are so much higher up and further along than when we began.

We are not perfect.

But we are making progress every day.

Cheering You On,



– In a recent More than Small Talk podcast episode, Battle Cry, we talk about why fighting something hard isn’t a reason for shame–it’s proof you’re a warrior. And we share how you can have more victory.

– If you’d like to make progress in your writing, Be a Kick-Butt Writer by Friday will give you more clarity, confidence, and courage with your words.

– I’d love to personally help you move onward and upward with your God-sized dreams. Find out more about life coaching.

About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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