Have you been constantly putting something off that is important to you simply because “it isn’t a good time?”


If it is important to you, find the time. Time will never present itself in a neat, little, packaged circumstance. Do you constantly bail on training sessions when you are feeling tired, or sore, or uninspired? Find something to train for that means enough to you to push through those plateaus. Generic goals are easy to throw to the side because we do not tend to foster deep and meaningful connections with these things.


Here is a lesson from sushi chef Jiro Ono from the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi to help you get started on your journey:



Meet Jiro

Jiro, the documentary’s protagonist, is a life-long sushi chef from Japan whose tiny, unassuming, subway-stop restaurant managed to earn a three-star Michelin rating despite its deviations from the foodie world norm. His secret to success? Discipline, consistency, and passion. From the way he cooks his rice, to his knife cuts, to his delicate manner of shaping each piece of sushi, Jiro instills love and a drive for mastery into everything he does.  


“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” is a phrase heard often in the gym. Jiro’s mentality is a compelling representation of this concept. For a man who is into old age and yet refuses to relinquish his self-efficacy, this is an enormously inspiring display of personal strength that anyone can learn something from.


He is notoriously hard on himself, as many great chefs are, but he never talks about himself in a self-depreciating way. Instead, he seems to have a calm acceptance of the fact that life, up until the point when it ends, offers endless opportunities for self-improvement. To take advantage of this, however, you can never be truly satisfied. In fact, dissatisfaction can be one of life’s key driving forces if you learn how to correctly harness its power.  


The Fallacy of Perfection

Perfect, in the eyes of Jiro, is a useless concept. Perfect represents an end point where no other self-improvement can be achieved. How can this apply to you right now, in this moment? If you are anything like me, you have wasted far too much time searching for “perfect.”  


"[D]issatisfaction can be one of life’s key driving forces if you learn how to correctly harness its power."

Perfect can be represented by other words, such as “ideal” or “the right time,” but they all tie into the same self-limiting concept. Learn to let go of perfect. Learn to stop waiting for the ideal situation or the right time. Learn that all you truly have is this moment, right now. The last moment has already passed, and the next moment has not yet occurred. Focus on right now. Right now, in this moment, is the opportunity to change the moments that lay ahead. Nothing can ever change a previous moment, so discard them wholeheartedly. Perfect is a derivative of fear and desire. Better comes from confidence. Better comes from patience. Better comes from belief. When thinking in these terms, better is much better than perfect.

This is something that I am still working on in my own life. I often experience an ebb and flow of commitment to my own training and goals. When I do find a groove, however, I know I am there. I become completely immersed. I don’t skip sessions. I don’t make excuses. I am easier on myself when I am feeling tired, sore, and uninspired. In these cases, I do what I can and then leave to go own with the rest of my day – a “punch-the-clock” workout, as Dan John would say. No matter what, I get shit done, and not just with exercise. These feelings of focus and determination carry over to the rest of my life. I feel passionate, alive, powerful, and inspired to be a better person on a daily basis. It is during those times I truly feel unstoppable in what I might be able to achieve.


life lessons from sushi chef jiro ono


What Does Success Truly Mean?

Watching this movie was a profound reminder of what it means to be successful. Does Jiro seem proud of his Michelin rating and his restaurant’s legacy? Absolutely. His true sense of accomplishment, however, seems to lay in his unwavering commitment to his work and in his ability to pass this quality along to his sons. He cherishes his friendships above notoriety. By the end of the movie, it becomes clear that his simple, humble, and yet extraordinary restaurant is a direct reflection of who he is as a person.


The way Jiro has chosen to live his life is a beautiful representation of an axiom

he offers during the movie: “ultimate simplicity leads to purity.” Perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves, especially during times of change or stress, is to whittle away the unessential, focus on the one thing that drives us to be better every day, discard any notions of perfection, and remain consistent day after day in our pursuit.  I know I have certainly spent some time thinking about what this might mean to me, right now, in this moment.


You can stream the movie for free if you have an Amazon Prime account. I highly recommend that you find some time to watch it. It might help you become a little better today. If you don’t have time to watch it now, keep this lesson in mind: find what makes you feel passionate and fired up about training. Hold that sense of purpose close to your heart. Knowing your “why” behind anything you do is the key to sustainability throughout the ups and downs of life.


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Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.

Photo 2 courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.