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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Psychology of Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Sushi, Sushi, Sushi, one of the hottest foods (no pun intended) over the last few years in Austin, is still somewhat of an enigma to us.  I've eaten my fair share of sushi and other Japanese food, but still I am a beginner in the sushi realm.

I saw a preview of this movie when I went to the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane training day.  I can't write a review of Jiro's restaurant, but the psychological aspects of the documentary struck me as remarkable.  There really won't be any spoilers, as there really isn't a traditional plot, per se.

You might have gotten from the trailer that Jiro Ono's training is intense and brutal.  Apprentices train for years just to learn how to make rice.  Apprentices must first learn how to wring hot towels in their hands before they may touch the food.  Jiro's attitude towards his work shows a completely different approach than what most are used to seeing.  Jiro never claims to be the best.  Jiro was never cocky.  Jiro and many of the other players in the movie approached their work as a craft.  From the fish vendors to the apprentice chefs, many of them stated that they wanted to keep improving and learn better techniques.

Here's a few quotes from the film:
You must dedicate your life to mastering this skill. This is the key to success.”
"Even at my age in work, I still haven't reached perfection."
"I'll continue to climb to try to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is!"

This attitude is vastly different from many that I've come across.  Often times, people say things like "I've done it before. Don't tell me what to do."  Or "I've been doing this for X number of years. I'm an expert."  I've said it several times before.  I hate the e-word.  I don't think there's anything as an expert.  In my experience, people who call themselves experts are the ones who have stopped learning and stopped perfecting their art.  Experts are the ones who refuse to be flexible to change and feedback falls on deaf ears.  

I'm a strong believer in being passionate about your work.  People with hardy personalities persistent and are committed to their work will fair better.  They are resilient to stress, and in the long-run, that could be better long-term health (empirical research pending).  One of my favorite hardy personalities is Randy Pausch

There may be others who disagree.  They say that perpetually striving to achieve goals may be stressful when the goals are realized.  They claim that the constant work has a negative effect, but I would disagree.  People who have a sense of passion about their work live longer.  People who do nothing but "relax," are the ones that are missing out.  There's already a plethora of research demonstrating that people who retire young also die young.  There's also a plethora of psychological work that shows that people are happy regardless of circumstances

I recommend, instead, to stay alive by staying passionate about what you do.  Never stop learning, and never stop doing.  Without this type of attitude, Jiro Ono might not have every achieve all that he did.  Doctor's orders!  The Doctor also orders you to see the film.

I found a quote in a Piano Guys video that was in the same vein.  "Don't only practice your art. Force your way into its secrets. For it and knowledge can raise men to the divine." - Ludwig Van Beethoven. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome information..
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