Jiro Ono has worked for 75 years a sushi chef. He runs Sukiyabashi Jiro, a restaurant in Tokyo that seats only 10 people, serves only sushi, and charges $300 for a meal. His restaurant was the first sushi restaurant to be awarded the prestigious honor of a 3 star Michelin review. His life and career are the subject of the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Here are 3 lessons presented from his life story.
1. Even great accomplishments start from humble beginnings.
When Jiro began working as a sushi chef apprentice he was paid almost nothing. Nor was he wealthy as he worked to improve his skill as a sushi chef while he and his wife raised his two children.
Jiro was eventually able to open his own restaurant, which is now booked months in advance, but it took him many, many years to reach this point.
2. Passion for our work can come not just from interest, but also from mastery.
Jiro had a natural affinity for sushi. He says, “I would make sushi in my dreams. I would jump out of bed with ideas.”
In contrast, Jiro’s eldest son, Yoshikazu did not take to the trade immediately. “I hated it at first. For the first 2 years I wanted to run away.”
Over time, Yoshikazu came to care about sushi and now appears to take it as seriously as his father. This is an example of how mastery of a particular skill can lead to feeling passionate about a career path. It was after two years of learning how to be a sushi chef that Yoshikazu took to the work. Or in other words, it was after he’d gotten decent at being a sushi chef that he began to like it.
3. Strive for improvement in your profession.
Jiro advises at the beginning of the documentary, “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 is the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably.”
Yoshikazu notes a similar sentiment at the end of the film, “Always look ahead and above yourself. Always try to improve on yourself. Always strive to elevate your craft. That’s what he (Jiro) taught me.”
I found this film to be quietly captivating. It was interesting to learn of Jiro’s story, and it was inspiring to see the amount of care Jiro gives to his work. Here’s the link to the film again. (Expect to crave sushi if you watch it!)