The Folly of Jiro

The talk of my little corner of the web for a year has been the film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about mastery and craftsmanship. It’s been used to quite a bit to rebuke the “follow your passion” crowd, but the gist of the movie is to find something you like to do, and relentlessly pursue excellence in that occupation for the rest of your life.

Hugh MacLeod, author of one of my favorite book on creativity and art, Ignore Everybody, changed his entire approach to business when he watched the film. I can’t even count the number of blog posts I’ve read since from creatives, including photographers, proclaiming the same. People everywhere seemed to put a stake in the ground and say, this is what I do and I will steadily get better and better at it until the day I die, no matter what the obstacle.

It’s an admirable thought, but I took something very different from the film. It’s the same thought I took away from Steven Pressfield’s book, Turning Pro, when it was all the rage several months ago.

This devotion to work came at great costs to the families of Jiro and Pressfield. In fact, Jiro’s children didn’t recognize him when he spent some very rare time at home one day.

That’s tragic, not inspiring. As noble as you may believe your pursuit of excellence is, it means nothing if you go home at night to people who do not recognize you or want you around.