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Bro Kaizen

The young man’s growth mindset

Husband Your Gumption

Beware this caveat pertaining to gumption and character!

Gumption can be temporarily depleted, which will slow your roll on deliberate practice and many other good parts of your life.

Deliberate Practice has 3 inputs:

  1. Time
  2. Knowledge
  3. Gumption

Ingredient #1, time management, has been abundantly covered by far greater powers than Bro Kaizen. Ingredient #2 has been treated elsewhere, on and off this blog. Let’s focus on ingredient #3, “Gumption.”

If you expend your gumption fruitlessly, by hours spent copy-and-pasting long columns of figures between Excel spreadsheets, or memorizing vast quantities of facts by rote, you will lack the wherewithal to tackle the design-a-rocket-thruster project when it is offered to you. Similarly, in your drained state, you’ll lack the discipline to stick to your diet, wake up early to visit the gym, man up and go talk to that pretty girl, and avoid the time-wasting temptation of Reddit/Television. Resistance to each of these negative life ingredients draws from the same reservoir.

Therefore you must husband your gumption reserves, protect them from depletion on stupid things, and instead expend them solely on deliberate practice and worthwhile tasks (aka rocket engine design). Perhaps the most practical way to accomplish this gumption husbandry is to construct a “life system” wherein positive processes and outcomes happen by default. For example,

  • Design a trip to the gym into your day (perhaps by joining one between your house and job, such that you pass it every day anyway and you might as well go in).
  • Put a pullup bar in your bathroom door so you end up doing a few reps on your way to the shower. (Idea stolen from Matt Might)
  • Pay your housemate to withold your wallet and phone every day after work until you complete your 1 hour of Pashto language practice.

We want the system to do the heavy motivational lifting/tiresome shlepping automatically, thereby freeing your gumption reservoir for the vital tasks for which it is on the critical path or is the limiting reactant.