Jiro vs. Mario

Let me start by saying I don’t have an answer. A point?  Maybe.

I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi the other night. (Which, by the way, I LOVED.)  It tells the story of Jiro Ono, a man widely acknowledged as the best sushi chef in world, presiding over Sukiyabashi Jiro, a ten seat restaurant in a Tokyo subway station that holds three Michelin stars and serves only sushi.  He lives for sushi, lives to strive for perfection in his craft.

He, his sons, and his apprentices all have worked hundreds and thousands of hours in the pursuit of raw fish and rice.  He sits in the same car on the train every day on the way to his restaurant.  He is the personification of discipline, single-mindedness, and having a clear life mission.  Do this one thing, and do it really, really well.

I thought a lot about how I just don’t think I’m that kind of a person.  The doggedness, the patience.  Those words make me panic.  I thought about how maybe that perseverance and self-sacrifice is cultural, and to some extent un-American.  I thought about how nice it would be to be handed a mission, a folded slip from a grabbag of assignments.  This is your life, go forth.

Cut to last night.

I got suckered in by Hulu’s A Day in Life series, featuring Mr. Mario Batali.  Besides the fact that physically, Mario is probably the anti-Jiro, he comes at his work with a completely different direction.  To him, the worst thing for creativity is to “settle into the same day every day.”  Even if he’s walking into one place a few days in row, he makes a point of taking a different route each day to engage his mind.  For someone who likes clear answers, this little fact in contrast to Jiro was making me nuts.  Regardless of how you feel about Batali, his empire is wide, and far spread, and incredibly successful.  He works long, tireless hours, with a self-imposed mission of showing Americans how he thinks they should eat, with simple, great ingredients.


I’ve been listening to Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why, at the recommendation of my friend Heather. His mantra?  “It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters why you do it.”  To him, innovation, creativity, fulfillment, and success (all those good, lovely things!) follow a strong, and altruistic why.  The end product to him, whether it’s sushi, or restaurants, or a freaking yarn store, is a by-product of being inspired.  How we get there,  whether it’s by taking the same train every day or by walking a different way to work every day, is also largely irrelevant.

True inspiration is self-perpetuating.  It’s a reason for our efforts, and the answer to questions.  I get that.

I said I didn’t have an answer.  I don’t.  What’s my mission?  I just want do cool stuff.  That’s all I’ve really figured out so far. As the girl who likes clear answers, this soul-searching, what-do-I-want-to-do with my life phase is getting old.  Cue finger tapping.  Real old.

P.S.  Your assignment today is to watch Sinek’s talk. Easy peasy.

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