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Sushi for the Driven Soul

I love Netflix. If you haven’t gathered that from a few of my previous posts, it bears repeating. You can find entertainment, education, and nearly everything in between.

Recently I watched a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Yes, it is about a man who makes sushi for a living, but it had an unexpected impact on me.


Jiro is 85 years old, and has been making sushi nearly his entire life. He also has no plans to retire (at least at the time of the filming). Through the course of the movie, we learn about Jiro’s restaurant and the hard work all of his employees must endure to complete an apprenticeship. If you want to be able to say you studied under Jiro, you must complete a minimum of 10 years as his apprentice. During the first year, an apprentice must learn to handle the hot towels given to customers to clean their hands. Until you can handle the towels without burning your hands, you can not handle the fish. This is serious business.

Jiro’s restaurant seats only 10 people, requires reservations made months in advance, and the prices start at $300 a person for a culinary experience. He was awarded 3 Michelin stars because apparently that was the only award appropriate for his restaurant. Japan has named him a national treasure, for pete’s sake!

What makes this man so remarkable is his perspective on his career. In very mild, understated language, he explains that once you choose a career, you should strive to be the very best at that profession. He never ceases to study technique and analyze what he does to make an even better experience for his customers. When you eat at his restaurant, he notices whether you are right- or left-handed, and adjusts how he serves you accordingly. All this for sushi!

He passion isn’t contained to the restaurant. It affects all those who work with him indirectly as well. When his oldest son travels to the fish market each morning, his goal is to bring back only the best seafood possible. As Jiro’s son describes it, each vendor they work with is an expert in his own field. If they choose to work with a tuna vendor, it is because he is an expert in his trade. The vendors at the market respect Jiro so much, occasionally they will not sell fish to his son because they know what they have that day is not high enough quality for Jiro’s standards.

Jiro says he has never complained about his job, because it is what he chose to do and he is happy doing it.

What an amazing man. He made a choice, pursued a dream, and continues to aim for higher and higher standards. He is never complacent in his success. Even though my dream is not to make sushi, I would like to be more like this man. When I am 85 years old, I want to be able to say I attempted to be the best in my field. I want to be able to say that even after all those years I’m still happy with my career.

Those decisions start now. What is your passion?

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