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Gumption Traps

Navel gazing.No, this has nothing to do with hunting, golf, or multiband antennas. In his much-revered novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig wrote of “gumption traps”–those psychological pits into which one can fall in the steps between intention and completion. One’s gumption to move forward gets caught  by sometimes-minor realities. Here’s three of my gumption traps.

1. Not being able to find the tools I need to work on a project. “Where’s my hammer . . . the big hand sledge?”! “I saw that damn wrench somewhere! Where did I leave it?”!! “Oh no! I don’t have to dig through all those boxes, do I?”!!!! “Nuts!! I forgot to pick my sander from storage!!!!!!” It’s worse when I have to do one or more things (or think I do) before finding a tool. “Forget it! I’ve got to move that pile of tires before I can move that freezer before I can dig through those boxes!!!!!!!!!!” Within these scenarios, there’s no spending a half hour working on something before dinner or church or the club meeting. A half hour wouldn’t even be enough to get through half the gumption traps!

2. Having so many things I want to do that I can’t decide which to work on at any given time. Wanna see my radio projects lists? No, you don’t. There’s a few dozen ones in various states of progress at any time. Another few dozen on my list to get to sometime. Which of those many things to I work on when I have a hour to do so (even with all the tools at hand)? Often, there’s no clear answer, and then my whole enthusiasm drops into a gumption trap. Crap!

3. Resisting to start or work on something for fear of not doing it perfectly. Yep! I’m afflicted with perfectionism.

Gumption trap painting.Please do not think that’s a brag, because it’s really a lamentation! People who fear doing something imperfectly secretly believe they are perfect, and they don’t want to see evidence to the contrary. In my case at least, perfectionism is a character defect, and the resulting gumption traps are often the least of the problems I bring on because of it. For therapy, then, I force myself to “just do it!” If it works, that’s what really matters. If it’s ugly and messy . . . well, better luck next time! Besides, who do I think I am? Now, wanting to do something well is healthy. Wanting to do something perfectly is pathological. Waiting until perfection comes is just plain stupid.

Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumption_trap

—K7TFC

 

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