Improvement and Perfection

Tiger Sketch

I just finished watching a truly excellent movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend you watch it (it’s available on Netflix if you’re a subscriber).

I’m all about motivational media, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi happens to be one of the most motivating and happy films I’ve ever watched. This article contains my thoughts on improvement and perfection (the central theme of the movie), since they are still fresh in my mind.

Everyone starts their lives with no skill. As a child you know almost nothing. Your parents and those around you gradually teach you how to live, how to act, how to work, etc., but these skills are gained over time and with practice.

Nobody is born knowing how to write computer software, and nobody is born with the ability to play guitar. Every skill you possess is learned and acquired over time, with lots of practice. If you’d like to become better at playing the guitar, you must deliberately practice playing the guitar–learning to read music, learning the finger positions, learning how things are supposed to sound, etc. No matter how much you like guitar or how much you read about guitar–the only way to get better at your craft is to deliberately practice it.

The more you practice a certain skill, the better you’ll become. If you continuously spend 10 hours a day making sushi, you will undoubtedly become better at making sushi.

In addition to practicing your craft, you can also improve your skill by striving for perfection in your craft, and holding yourself to a high standard. For instance–if you make sushi each day for 10 hours, this alone is not enough to push you past a certain point of success.

To continue improving your sushi, you also need to strive for perfection. You need to pay close attention to each detail of the process. You must perfect the art of cooking the rice, slicing the fish, marinating the meats, and a number of other things.

As you make sushi each day, you need to be strict with yourself. You must taste your sushi as it is being prepared to ensure it is up to your standards. You must continue to experiment with your dishes and flavors to ensure they are not only great, but as close to perfection as possible.

Each day you should practice your craft and strive for perfection, regardless of whether you’re preparing sushi or writing software.

I think this lesson holds true for all of life. You should constantly push yourself to be better than the day before. Strive for perfection in every act you perform.