Creatives: Why Your Personal Taste Matters

Recently, I heard the story of a famous Sushi chef in Japan. One day he took on a very talented apprentice, but refused to let the apprentice into the kitchen. Instead, he made him spend the first few months on the job visiting other sushi restaurants. Rather than cooking, he had him tasting. Why?

The famous sushi chef wanted to make sure the young apprentice developed his own sense of taste. For months he had tested everything from all the competing sushi experts in the city, and now had a much more developed understanding of what worked and what didn’t.

That’s good advice for any creative person. Do you find that you’re not sure about the quality of the projects you’re working on? Are you spending more time showing your team’s work to others to get their opinion? Are you afraid of going out on a limb with a risky idea?

Perhaps you need to get out of the kitchen and into sushi restaurants. In your field it might mean reading more of the great movie screenplays, watching more TV drama, studying the work of giants of design, or go back to reading the classics. It might also mean to getting out on the edge. Study risky creative work. Learn when it works and when it doesn’t.

The greatest creative leaders have a very refined and confident sense of taste. That kind of confidence is one of the most important skills a creative leader will ever develop.

Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

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