Value of Mistakes (reflections from The Profit)

Last week's "Honest Foods" episode of The Profit (here) had some tasty takeaways.

My favorite quote from the episode might not seem profound, but it was powerful.

Marcus Lemonis was having an intense chat with the owner of Honest Foods.  There was a little meltdown going on and Lemonis replied with, "You'll learn from it."


such grace.

I love those four words:

"You'll learn from it."

So I ask you today - do you have a mistake that you made that you need to give yourself a bit of grace to learn with?

Are you a leader who needs to empower employees to make mistakes in a way that allows them to improve towards excellence?

When we embrace errors with grace, we open the door for valuable learning that leads to long term success.

Remember - life is not a planned script and mistakes are going to happen.

Costly mistakes hurt - and can involve setback and even loss; however, when we embrace mistakes with understanding, when we problem solve to move forward, we can use error for excellence.

The Profit's website is here and updates on this episode can be found at an update blog hereOh, and a cool interview with Marcus Lemonis and Brandon Marshall is here.

Part 2:

Three more takeaways from The Honest Foods episode:

1.  The episode reminded us that owning and running a business can be hard work.  

When the owner of Honest Foods was sharing with Lemonis, he shared a bit about being tired.  Just a reminder to those who are considering getting into their own business- it takes a lot of hard work and might have some exhausting years.  Hopefully owners can find more balance as they learn to manage the business, delegate, and have all systems firing efficiently (which Lemonis calls 3 P's for People, Product, and Process). 

2. The Honest Foods episode reminded us that leaders have a responsibility to control their emotions and behavior. 

A good leader should manage with control - this does not mean they cannot be human, because we are not robots - but to effectively manage - your general MO (daily way of operating) should be with emotional control and should be affirming to the workers.

One of the employees interviewed in the episode noted how it felt to be berated and made to "feel this big" - and little things like this are great teaching points for leaders because we "can" and "should" learn.

A hurdle that some business owners have relates to lack of needed accountability.  Sometimes because they are the "owner" - they are not open to receiving helpful criticism or the employees are not able to give helpful feedback (for fear or just not having the channel there). 
Listen up leaders, you need feedback because it will help you in the long run - it is sometimes the only way you can attain needed self-awareness.  I invite you to triple check how you are doing in this area - are you humble and open enough to receive accountability?

3. Being 100% in charge is not because Lemonis wants to be domineering over others.

I could write a lot about this "top-dog" topic, but for today's post, let me stick to the connection with The Profit. 

You see, in each business partnership on The Profit, Marcus Lemonis is 100% in charge. Lemonis will not make the agreement until this is accepted and agreed upon.

At first this might seem like a power move or as if he wants control in a role of superiority.

However, this is NOT the case.

You see, when Lemonis is 100% in charge it is for order and business function.

Taking the firm role in leadership is to establish a healthy business structure and as such, it brings in a sense of ORDER!

Lemonis takes on the top dog spot within the organization's "legitimate power" and "positional power" (and as the person at the top of the hierarchy -he has the most power), but he then delegates and empowers people to do their jobs with autonomy. He lets those with "referent power" do their thing....  and he also presents a clear vision about the changes that will ensue. For those doing research on work, remember that when employees are clear about who is in charge and when a strategic vision is in place, success can unfold. Nightingale (2009) argued that empowering leadership, placed at all organizational levels, was key to successful organizational transformation. Fleming and Spicer (2014) noted that having the right dominate top leader is crucial, especially "in organizations when some kind of change program is introduced" (p.19). So when Lemonis makes it clear that he is 100% in charge, this is for order and it is a good thing rather than a power hungry thing.  

Quick personal story: 

As noted, I could write on and on about the topic or leadership, but today's takeaway is about how Lemonis takes the top dog role, but he does NOT operate with condescension.

Last fall, I came face to face with one of the "worse" top leaders I have ever encountered. I took a short contract job (12 weeks) and the head person at this organization was the kind of leader who was condescending.  I only saw him once during my contract, but the ego and puffed up pride was evident.  This top dog boss guy liked to dominate over those below in his care.  Some leaders dominate in order to feel better about their own inadequacies and this felt like the case with him. 

Whenever I work at a place that talks about "not respecting authority" or the word "obedience" frequently comes up among employees, I usually find an unhealthy dominating leader at the helm. Seriously - the overbearing essence of this kind of leader trickles down to the workers. It also usually involves workers who have an imbalance because of it. 

 I especially see this in "some" charismatic Christian circles - where the leaders crave power - they talk a lot about who has the authority - and at this place, there was constant talk about insubordination or failure to respect the "leadership."   
Some leaders are pseudo fulfilled when having others "beneath" them - but because they lack a certain wholeness, and because they operate with inferiority - they might lead with a dominating type of oppressive control. 
When certain leaders "drink in" control, it could lead to dominating over others in order to feel superior (having subordinate compliance fulfills their need to "feel" superior). This does not empower employees and it can oppress. 

Now don't get me wrong - the desire to lead or the need to have a powerful position can be normal. Certain personalities have an innate wiring to lead and manage others. It's a gift. You know, where the need to lead from a top role aligns with who they are and they use gifts as they carry this responsibility.  However, problems arise when leaders use their power to attain a feeling of importance. They cannot empower others if they are operating from feelings of insufficiency. 

Part 3: 

This week on Delancey Place, one of the excerpts (here) was "Making Mistakes is Normal"
and here is a wonderful snippet of that excerpt that ties into today's theme:

"Error is normal, and making mistakes is a necessary part of learning. In Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov's brilliant distillation of forty-nine techniques for teachers to use to improve student performance, he writes that teachers should normalize error and avoid chastening students for getting it wrong. (Lemov's book has application far beyond the classroom):
"Error followed by correction and instruction is the fundamental process of schooling. You get it wrong, and then you get it right. If getting it wrong and then getting it right is normal, teachers should Normalize Error and respond to both parts of this sequence as if they were totally and completely normal. After all, they are."

Part 4: 

I recently wrote about the value of allowing room to learn (here) - and I used a quote from Maya Angelou:

“You did the best that you knew how.  Now that you know better,  you’ll do better.”  

In that post, my aim was to help us all remember that learning is a necessary part of living.

This is not to excuse sloppy habits of people who are not trying to improve.
This is not to excuse bad character or serious flaws that would poison a partnership.
But this is to say that when a partnership is working, we have to embrace errors and move on.

There are times when mistakes are made - but yes.... we can "learn from it."


Okay, that is it for this post! 

Hope you have a great day and thanks for reading.


Fleming, P., & Spicer, A. (2014). Power in management and organization science. The Academy of Management Annals8(1), 237-298.

Nightingale, D. (2009). Principles of enterprise systems. Second International Symposium on Engineering Systems MIT, Cambridge, MA