I recently watched ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi‘, and found – as have many others – that he isn’t talking about sushi at all in the film. The movie is about cherishing your craft and loving your work.
I’ve taken a few key points from the film that I think apply to work and life. I’d like to share Jiro’s wisdom and how it relates to what I do and where I want to be.
Like Jiro, I literally dream of the work that I do throughout the day, as I’m sure that many of you have. I darn sure want to be dreaming about something that I enjoy rather than something tedious.
Love What You Do
I’ve never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m eighty five years old, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s how I feel. – Jiro Ono
You’re devoting your life to what you do. Hopefully if you aren’t there yet, you’re working toward building the career that you want to have. I’ve had plenty of jobs that I didn’t necessarily want to do but still treated each as something useful and that I enjoyed doing. Whether making pizzas, answering phones or building websites, I didn’t let what I was doing for money keep me down.
I’m lucky enough now that I’ve got a more clear picture of what I want to do and how I want to make a living. Thankfully, I’ve been given this opportunity, and I love that I can do this for the foreseeable future. Even if you aren’t there yet, you’ll find that thing that combines your passion with your livelihood.
Always look ahead and above yourself. Always try to improve on yourself. Always strive to elevate your craft. That’s what he taught me. – Yoshikazu Ono
I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is. – Jiro Ono
You’re doing what you love and learning new things along the way. You’ve started point that getting really good at it too. Now you’re at that point where you can get through a project without much extra work; able to coast on what you already know.
Don’t do that. I guarantee that there is someone out there better than you are at what you do. If there isn’t, then you can bet there are people working toward it. Always strive for more. Always work toward learning new techniques, trying new things and break some rules. Don’t settle for what you already have when you and I both know that you’re worth more.
Don’t Follow the Rules. Make Them.
When I was in school… I was a bad kid. Later, when I was invited to give a talk at the school, I wasn’t sure if I should tell the kids that they should study hard… or that it is okay to be a rebel. I wasn’t sure what advice to give the kids. Studying hard doesn’t guarantee you will become a respectable person. Even if you’re a bad kid… there are people like me who change. I thought that would be a good lesson to teach. But if I said that bad kids can succeed later on like I did… all the kids would start misbehaving which would be a problem. Always doing what you are told doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in life. – Jiro Ono
Jiro knows from a life of experience that just doing what you’re told doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get anywhere. Sometimes you have to focus on what you think is important, and not what others tell you.
Of course, he also cautions that you don’t break the rules just for the sake of breaking them. If you have reason to what you are doing, and can back it up, go your own way. The axiom “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” generally holds true in work, so take the chance on what you are doing and focus on your needs, not those of others.
Use Your Time Wisely
Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably. – Jiro Ono
These days the first thing people want is an easy job. Then, they want lots of free time. And then, they want lots of money. But they aren’t thinking of building their skills. When you work at a place like Jiro’s, you are committing to a trade for life. – Shrimp Dealer
This is you taking your chance on life. If you’re like me you’re young, have few tangible responsibilities, and have boundless enthusiasm for what you want to be doing. Why on earth would you spend this time mired in the small when you can better apply it at what you do best and dream big?
I’m working on prioritizing my time, removing non-essentials (both physical and mental) from my professional life, and enriching my personal life as well. This is a never ending process, and I’ve still not settled on what works for me. If it takes an 85 year old sushi chef to tell me what to do and how to live, I’m gonna take notes and can only hope to enjoy the ride as long as he has.