Is Jiro our Hero?
Let’s keep the Japanese theme going from yesterday. When I joined Airbnb, CEO Brian Chesky told me he was obsessed with the Japanese documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Then, three months later, we moved into our enormous new headquarters and there was a “Jiro” meeting room designed after the subway sushi bar depicted in the film.
That’s when I realized I needed to watch the film.
If you’ve made it to the Appendix of my book, “Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder,” you’ll see that I consider this one of the top ten movies on aging. The story relates to the idea of Shokunin, a Japanese ethos of the value of intrinsically-satisfying craftsmanship seeking fulfillment in perfection. In other words, it’s about developing mastery, but not just for fame or fortune, but for the satisfaction in the achievement of that craft. We can learn much from Jiro about the path or journey being more important than the destination.
I suggest you check out the film, and then ask yourself this question: Would you want to be Jiro, who is clearly getting better with age, but in his seemingly obsessional pursuit of mastery, has raised the bar painfully for his son and everyone else around him?
Here’s a trailer of the film. And, here’s another Japanese documentary that speaks to midlife yearnings and the value of mastery, Journey to Hokosai.