There is a word that has been hiding under rock for quite a while now. It’s a word that describes an essential part of our make up however this word has gone missing of late.
This was highlighted last week when my son mentioned that if they didn’t want to do sport at school they could just sit it out during that session and not participate. This was compounded when my daughter came home from the school swimming carnival and I asked her how she went in her races and she said, “Dad, I didn’t have any races. We just watched.”
“Eh??? You mean you don’t have compulsory races for everyone??”
“No Dad, it’s only for those that choose to”, was the response.
What happened to those days of compulsory sitting in your team line in your swimmers on cold wet grass for hours as you push through race after race on swimming carnival day?
Then a question popped into my head…is our society collectively making life soft and easy, as we constantly seek the most pleasurable, easy experience? Are we avoiding challenges and toil for the sake of an easier life? Of course why wouldn’t we, but is this coming with a price? I liken it to going to the gym and having someone lift your weights for you so you don’t have to strain. It’s an easier path in the beginning, but we reap no long-term rewards as a result. When we are finally confronted by a challenging experience, we are weak and soft and unable to persevere through it.
I’m just as guilty as anyone. I grew up forgoing daily treats during the 40 days of Catholic lent. Every weekend we had early Sunday mass in either a freezing church in winter at 7am or at times a humid hot mass in summer. We had daily chores to be fulfilled on the farm and then Saturdays it was no play until lunchtime after all the farm work was completed. We just got down and did the work, knowing this was part of life. Yet now, there’s no list of jobs on the fridge door for my children to fulfil before they can go out and have their play.
Times have changed, as they do, and knuckling down and doing the ‘hard stuff’ seems to be a thing of the past for many of us around the world, especially children. As soon as things get a little bit challenging we move on to the next job, relationship, or glossy thing that will grab our attention. We have filled our lives up with glamour and gloss and our attention will shift quickly looking for the next pleasurable thing to elevate us. We feel deprived easily and fall into a depression when the pleasure is unable to be found. There are currently 30 millions Americans on anti-depressants.
Is this partly a result of the ‘spiritual movement’? We are often told to take the path of least resistance and to flow through life with ease. All wise words for sure, but can it be taken too literally? Which brings me to the word of the week: GUMPTION
I asked some students if they’d even heard of this word and they thought it was a cleaning product! (Well they were technically correct, as it is a cleaning product, but that’s not the gumption I was speaking of.)
Gumption is grit, guts, and strength. The ability to overcome obstacles, put your head down and push on through the difficult challenges. This is where we find our resolve. It’s in those times that we tap into resourcefulness and inner strength. It’s in these times we embrace stoicism. Another rare word in today’s world.
Lebanese-American scholar and author of the Black Swan, Nassim Taleb, once said:
“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”
Stoic: Strength Through Overwhelming Incidents of Challenge
An axe gets sharpened through the friction of grinding it against the stone. Diamonds are formed out of heat and pressure. An athlete achieves success through grit and toil.
We have a mighty strength within us that grows in those challenging times, just as your muscles grow under the duress of lifting the weights. Gumption is your teeth gritting, roaring lion of courage within you that will carry you through your next challenging experience and see you stronger and more powerful on the other side.
Are you ready to embrace the next challenge with a roar?
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