Gumption: The Future Favors the Gumptious

The world is trying to destroy you and without gumption, you really don’t stand a chance at winning. It may seem dramatic, but I think it is true. But why gumption and not just initiative, etc? Gumption means, “shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness”. With only a cursory glance, gumption seems like a southern way to say initiative. However, gumption is so much more than that. It’s a drive that feeds off of itself. It’s initiative that creates an autocatalytic reaction creating even more initiative. Gumption isn’t just initiative, it’s a compounding initiative. Gumption is how Elon Musk started Tesla, PayPal, Neuralink, SpaceX, Hyperloop, etc…

“A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Obtaining gumption comes naturally from putting yourself into good situations. A part of gumption is becoming resourceful. Learn a little about a lot and know how to apply the pareto principle. Be bold and audacious. Put yourself in situations where you have high enthusiasm, then learn how to increase your enthusiasm in other situations.

Even more important than obtaining gumption is avoiding losing it, aka falling into a “gumption trap”. Robert Pirsig writes extensively on gumption traps in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A gumption trap is anything that systematically causes you to lose your gumption. Gumption traps create fragility, as they remove your will to fight entropy. Just like gumption can be a positive autocatalytic reaction, gumption traps can be a negative autocatalytic reaction that systematically removes gumption. Common gumption traps include poor environment, false dualities, anxiety and impatience. Avoiding gumption traps really come down to two things: controlling your environment and staying mentally flexible. Negative environments can quickly create gumption traps and drain your energy. Staying mentally flexible helps you avoid mental traps like false dualities, letting your ego get in the way, etc…

“Gumption is the psychic gasoline that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven’t got it there’s no way the motorcycle can possibly be fixed. But if you have got it and know how to keep it there’s absolutely no way in this whole world that motorcycle can keep from getting fixed. It’s bound to happen. Therefore the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The world naturally descends into chaos, aka entropy. Gumption not only prevents that, it builds a brighter future. Gumption is antifragile, as long as you avoid gumption traps. Future favors the gumptious.

Author: fatbabyfunds

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