A Teppenyaki Chef Fed Us with His Wise Words

If you are aware and open to it, you can find wisdom everywhere you go – including your seat at a Japanese teppanyaki grill…

For birthdays, our team goes out to lunch. So when we asked where we should meet for our next birthday lunch, it led us to a Japanese sushi and teppanyaki restaurant. If you’re unfamiliar with teppanyaki, you sit as a group around a large grill, and a talented chef prepares your meal in front of you with varying degrees of flair. It’s a unique experience that marries cooking and theater, and the best chefs master both equally.

Our chef at this recent lunch did not disappoint, delivering an amazing experience for our team. The best part, and completely unexpected, were the pearls of wisdom he shared throughout our time together. If you know anything about our team, we’re not quiet or shy, and we immediately engaged him in conversation about teppanyaki and life.

When we asked him how long it takes to master teppanyaki and the acrobatics that are part of cooking this way, he smiled. Specifically, we asked him if he ever drops food on the floor. “When you’re the one that has to clean up the dropped food, you drop less. You have to own it when you drop something or make mistakes. I still drop things occasionally, but I don’t want customers or coworkers to see my mess on the floor, so I own it and clean it up quickly.”

That was one of the first pearls of wisdom he shared. Own your successes, and own your mistakes. Both of them, not just one or the other.

As our conversation went on, he shared the following…

“Remember, beautiful things grow in the dirt. To grow things, they need dirt. Growing in life requires some dirt.”

Let’s camp on that for a moment as you’re reading this. Looking back on our lives, we all have some dirt. We call that dirt names like challenge, adversity, struggle, and suffering. And, if we look at that dirt through the right lens, we can see how beautiful things grew out of those challenges, adversities, struggles, and suffering. The two are tied together. Growth is hard and often messy. It’s dirty in the dirt… But it’s also where good things grow.

We walked in the door to this teppanyaki spot looking to get fed… and walked out full. We not only received a physical meal on a plate, but our chef also shared with us a mental meal that filled us up. Writing this right now comes from a place of gratitude.


Look for wisdom and be open to all the places it can come from, including really aware and transparent teppanyaki chefs. Opportunities are all around if you make room for them. Own your successes and failures, and learn to love your dirt.

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