Sukiyabashi Jiro, “You have to love your job. You must fall in love with your work.”

One could argue that sustained excellence can only come about through a full fledged devotion to one’s craft. If so, Jiro, the star of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, would be the poster child for persistence. Jiro has been making sushi for over 70 years and is widely acknowledged as the world’s greatest sushi chef.

The movie has been widely praised, receiving a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It can been see streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. On one level the film is a family story about Jiro and his two sons who are also sushi chefs. On another level it is about the commitment required to become and remain a master at a craft. In this case it just happens to be sushi.

Jiro even in his eighties works every day only closing for national holidays. He notes throughout the film different ways in which he makes sushi differently than others. These innovations occurred over time and through a relentless attention to detail. He says in the film:

I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.

The vast majority of people do not have the drive or interest in the effort required to achieve sustained excellence. In that regard sushi making is no different than trading. Unfortunately many enter into trading not for a desire to achieve great things but rather for the perceived rewards. Jiro clearly enjoys the recognition he has achieved but that does not prevent him from going to work every day.

The movie has been described as being about: “discipline, rigor and purity.” Certainly the first two are required for success in trading. Very few of us could be as singly-minded about what we do as Jiro is about sushi. Nor should we be. Very few of us would like to live a life singly focused on career to the detriment of everything else in our lives. However a documentary like Jiro Dreams of Sushi does highlight the level of effort to attain achieve excellence and to push the boundaries of a craft.

Other items of note:

59% of Americans would change their careers if they could do it over.  (Yahoo!)

Why banks have mandatory vacation policies.  (WSJ)

Our last movie recommendation, Margin Call.  (Abnormal Returns)