All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the octopus scene in Jiro Dreams of Sushi:
Focus on building a life that you wouldn’t trade. Confucius said that if you find a job you love, you’d never work a day in your life. But I’m not sure that’s true. In fact, I think it’s reversed. Because in my experience, when you find a job you love, you’ll work every day of your life. Maybe not the full eight hours. Maybe not as much on weekends and holidays and vacations. And not to the point where you neglect your health and your relationships. But passion and meaning and productive obsession have a funny way of creating amnesia. When you’re fully engaged, it doesn’t matter what day it is. You just want to get up and get to work. Because you’ve built a life you don’t need to escape from. I’m reminded of a great novel I read about a photographer. Jordan says that you could put her on a beach, and she is framing shots in her mind, probing the eyes of waiters or passersby, looking for the life behind life. She says sometimes she thinks she’s actually become a camera, an instrument for recording reality, and that the exquisite machines she carries when she works are but extensions of her mind and eye. For her, there is no vacation. If her eyes are open, she’s working. Now, this lifestyle might sound exhausting to some people, but that’s just the nature of passion. You do what you because you can’t afford not to. Because that thing makes life possible for you. You do what you do because you’re ugly when you don’t. What’s your definition of a job worth loving?
I want somebody who says this is just the beginning. Jiro has been making sushi for nearly a century. The sheer amount of hours he’s logged can make a beginner feel like they’re ten inches tall. But we can’t allow that reality to discourage our efforts. We can’t allow another person’s success to be a detractor from achieving our own. Otherwise bitter jealousy becomes yet another mask for procrastination. Instead, we need to surround ourselves with people who have good long term vision. People who can see what we’re too close to ourselves to see. Even if it’s just one person, that’s usually a strong enough spark to initiate our momentum. When my first book went viral, I received a call out of the blue from a guy who had seen one of my television interviews. As I picked up the phone, first five words out of his mouth were, way to fucking go, kid! Turns out, he was a bestselling author. A veteran writer who had been in the publishing game longer than I’d been alive. And he was just calling to say congratulations, introduce himself, and most importantly, remind me that this is just the beginning. That phone call initiated my momentum. Jeffrey’s encouragement helped me move the story forward and execute on my vision. And we remain friends and colleagues to this day. Proving, that you don’t need that many people to believe in you. What was it about you that will allow great mentoring to happen?
Love is the master power of the world. Jiro never once hated this job. He found something he loved and it loved him right back. That’s why he never plans to retire. And so, his journey to mastery not only inspires us to eat sushi, but also motivates us to treat our creative work as a delivery mechanism for our love. Because deep down, that’s what customers come to the counter for. It’s no secret that love is what everybody secretly wants. The question we have to ask ourselves is, what’s the packaging? What is the wrapper for our love? My grandfather has worked in the closeout business for more than fifty years. His products mainly consisted of liquidated inventories, discount merchandise and discontinued items. But because the closeout industry was traditionally viewed as cheap goods, his company became known for its classy service, positive attitude, transactional integrity and loyal relationships. That was the packaging for his love. And it’s what kept his brand alive for more than a half a century. A powerful reminder that business is best when it’s about the service above what you really sell. The product is only the beginning. Focus on the loving service ecosystem around it, and customers will come from around the world to sit at your counter. How will you create an exhibition of love through your art?
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