My Recipe for Humble Pie

Humble Pie ( credit:

Thought for the Week

One of my most important life experiences was also one of the most educational. And by “educational” I mean painfully humbling. Healing River was my first feature film as a writer-director. I thought I knew everything I needed to know: I had an MFA in directing and four years of post-graduate training; I’d taught filmmaking at three universities, produced and directed dozens of short films. What else was there to know?

A lot.

At the end of week one my Producer said he was hearing complaints, “only no one’s telling you to your face because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Hey, at least I was a likeable loser. Oy!

So, I prayed. Because God has no problem telling me things to my face. And he gave me his prize recipe for Humble Pie:

  • Step One: Gather ingredients (call a meeting).
  • Step Two: Mix ingredients (admit you’ve screwed up and ask for help).
  • Step Three: Bake at extreme high temperature (listen to their complaints, write down their suggestions, and earnestly thank them—they’re giving you one of the most important lessons of your life)!
  • Step Four: Remove from oven and allow to cool (send team home with promise to apply their suggestions).
  • Step Five: Serve warm, topped with a generous layer of fresh whipped humility (diligently review and apply their suggestions—over and over again)!

Some specs: Much of what I learned at that fatal meeting is applicable to any leadership environment—corporate, education, volunteering, even parenting. Here are some of the specifics I came away with:

  • Give clear, concise directions, and then trust your team to do their jobs (whether lighting a movie set or designing digital widgets).
  • Give immediate “Yes” or “No” answers (“Well, yes and no…” Oops).
  • Don’t think out loud – It comes off as indecision, and leaves people feeling uncertain.
  • Don’t talk “big picture,” talk their picture, i.e. talk about the part they’re tasked with. (Vision is a beautiful thing, but don’t rattle on about it!)
  • Be specific (Not “She’s depressed, so she drinks and wanders around,” but “she enters here, pours herself a drink here, then goes and stands here.” My lighting crew didn’t need to know why she was drinking, they needed to know where!).
  • Affirm people—and be specific about that too (“Perfect! I love how the camera moved into the close-up just as she started to cry!”)
  • Save notes from your team members in a “Read This!” folder — and review and apply those notes daily!

I’d like to say I performed brilliantly after that. I didn’t, but I did improve. So, no, I’m not a perfect director, but when it comes to eating humble pie, I take the cake. Oops, mixed metaphor.

I’ll try to be more specific next time.

Healing River has won over 20 movie awards and nominations, and been one of the top-rated inspirational films on Amazon Prime for over a year. It’s also available on TubiTV, Roku, and other streaming platforms, as well as DVD at most retail sellers.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Movies, Videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to My Recipe for Humble Pie

  1. Good marital advise as well…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ejstoo says:

    Congrats on the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. says:

    Great advice for every area of living. Being inclusive with those around us actually makes any project better. I loved “Healing River, btw.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been served several big pieces of that pie myself.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wisdom shared winsomely. Your honesty is so refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha! As a director, I can relate! I am especially guilty of “thinking out loud.” (No, everyone does NOT need to be privy to every step in my brilliant creative process.)
    I am also the kind of person that people are hesitant to be blunt with, not wanting to “hurt my feelings,” but when I worked with middle school and high school students there was no such hesitancy. (Lucky me. 🙄)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Piano girl says:

    Great lessons! Thanks for humbly sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. realmarklandry says:

    Dealing with criticism = cooking something in an oven. Brilliant. Won’t forget that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for sharing this very useful story, and also for the great advices, Mitch! Have a beautiful week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is such great advice Mitch, but it makes me kind of sad. I don’t think I have ever encountered a leader who applies any of those skills. Not a single one. I am laughing, but oh my goodness, you have no idea how I long for, “clear, concise directions.”

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The Lord has a way of humbling us! I have experienced it as well, and while I don’t know if I have ever “liked” it, I have at least understood the necessity of it in retrospect.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I watched your movie not realizing/recalling it was yours. Very powerful message! Listening to your team paid off.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. revruss1220 says:

    So true! As the pastor of a fairly large, suburban church, I experienced what one management consultant/author referred to as, “CEO Syndrome.” That is, being the one person in the organization that does not receive honest, difficult feedback about how he/she is doing. Kudos to you for recognizing that and correcting it. Here’s to continued (and larger) servings for both of us in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. LaDonna Remy says:

    These are excellent tips. I especially appreciate the pieces around owning our mistakes and hearing what others are communicating.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. scribelady says:

    This recipe is needed by a lot of managers and business owners.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. #hood says:

    what if healing river won over the # of the age of mitch’s fathers death


  17. Staci Troilo says:

    Great advice. And what a fabulous trailer. I can see why it’s an award-winner. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Eating Humble Pie? | See, there's this thing called biology...

  19. Goosebumps reading your recipe for humble pie. And the powerful life lesson at the end. YOU ARE A MASTER TEACHER and story teller Mitch. And I am 100 percent along on the ride for the lessons that God teaches and you share. Humble is a lesson my parents teach me daily too. God works through us. And I his humble servant. Thank God! 🕯️🕯️

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: My Recipe for Humble Pie – Nelsapy

  21. shankjoejoe says:

    So much wisdom! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ann Coleman says:

    I think all of us could do with a slice of humble pie now and then….thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Harshi says:

    We are always learning, always evolving. That’s how we grow.

    Also, I’ve learnt that we can’t always please everyone. Clear communication is definitely the key.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. gpavants says:


    It’s good to always be on the learning end of things. It keeps us growing. Merry Christmas, Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow! That looks like a definite “must watch”! I appreciated the lessons you shared here as well too. Thank-you.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: My Recipe for Humble Pie | Restored Ministries Blog

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