Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Gumption. Our Key to Improving Everything and Accomplishing Anything

Tools. Gumption.Today I will share what I consider the most important idea I have written about to date. Gumption.  It’s the center of my alignment, of my fire. It’s both fuel and the goal for me.   I’ll let Robert Pirsig explain (from ZMM):

“I like the word ‘gumption’ because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. It’s an old Scottish word, once used a lot by pioneers, but which, like ‘kin,’ seems to have all but dropped out of use. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.

“The Greeks called it enthousiasmos, the root of ‘enthusiasm,’ which literally means ‘filled with theos,’ or God, or Quality.   See how that fits?

“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.”

When I read this for the first time, I literally had to stand up and pace around with excitement!   I paced around and read it five times over. I was so excited to see these words.  My thought was this:   GUMPTION is what I’m talking about!  If I had read this book before I started this blog, instead of “Venture Energy,” I would have called it “Resurrecting Gumption” or something clever like that.  (I’m considering the use of the word gumption in my book title… and idea that is starting to come to life with a little more haste lately.)

Gumption is what I love about life. It’s what I believe I’ve finally connected with in a meaningful way, and what I want to help others find.    Gumption is what can make a difference in the world. Because it starts with the individual. Nothing will happen in our society, our government, our companies, our associations, without each individual having a tank full of gumption.

The book goes on, and it preaches gets even better. Check this out:

“The gumption-filling process occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one’s own stale opinions about it. But it’s nothing exotic. That’s why I like the word.”

I love this sentence. Sit still. Slow down to go faster.  Be quiet. BE QUIET! Slow down! Sit STILL! We all need to hear this more and more.  Just be quiet.

Then the practical part kicks in a couple of paragraphs down the page:

“If you’re going to repair a motorcycle…” (or start a company, or write a book, or be a good salesman, or be a runner, or be a good father, or a good husband, or a good preacher, or a good friend, or have any decent legacy on the world at all)… “an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won’t do you any good.”

I may be breaking all kinds of copyright laws by continuing, but I cannot help myself. This is too important for everyone to hear.

“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 gumption.”

This is the message I want the world to know. Moreover, I want the world to know how to find gumption. How to use gumption. Coming soon, I will be sharing more details about my new calling, new company, new vision. But before I shared my WHAT,  it is important that you appreciate the foundation and the WHY (click the links for Simon Sinek’s classic TED talk explanation of WHAT’s and WHY’s.)

That’s all for today. Gumption class dismissed.


  • Jerry says:

    Slow down so you can go faster…

    July 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm
    • Johnson Cook says:

      A wise man has been telling me that a long time… Funny how some things just don’t click until they click.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm
      • rgraham1981 says:

        Hey, I like this conversation! How about a basket of peaches. Jerry is always dropping some knowledge on the table – love it!

        July 18, 2012 at 11:15 am
  • Johnson Cook says:

    Here is an article on the education system that I was reading today. I thought it was funny timing with this post on Gumption, since what it sounds like she is saying is there is a need for some more gumption in the system. Or maybe I’m just being simplistic about it all. It’s still an interesting opinion post called “Stopping the Educational Blame Game.”

    July 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm
    • Johnson Cook says:

      ps. I love the title of their blog: Impatient Optimists!

      July 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm
  • Dave says:

    I see a lot of jerryisms in your blog posts… We’re all students of the master, aren’t we?

    July 17, 2012 at 1:31 am
    • Johnson Cook says:

      Someone should write a blog or a book called “Tuesdays with Jerry.”

      July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm
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