Either you have it, or you don’t.
Either you find it, or you won’t.
Gumption comes from way deep down, and sometimes it’s tough to identify. Sometimes, you have to do a little soul searching to find it.
Take, for example, Iris in “The Holiday.”
Iris had been in love with the same man, Jasper, for years, and he didn’t return the sentiment. It was unrequited love in the keenest sense. Jasper used Iris, her kindness, and her love to his benefit, and she allowed that to happen.
It’s not an unrealistic story. These types of love stories take place every day.
However, Iris finally snaps, realizes what gumption is, and acts on it. When this happens in the film, we are all cheering for her and we are happy that she no longer wants to be associated with Jasper. She has finally caught on to his ways and understands that he is not good for her. And then, she takes control.
What exactly is gumption? The definition is below.
Gumption doesn’t just relate to love and relationships, though many of you may have had to take initiative to start a relationship or end a relationship. But gumption is spirited; you cannot have gumption without being imaginative and without expressing ingenuity.
Another example might be found when examining your career—or lack thereof. Some people are content to work in a job they “like,” but wouldn’t it be more empowering to work a job you LOVE? It takes gumption to make hard decisions to pursue what makes you happy. And happiness, in the end, is what we strive for. Life is too short not to be happy.
Years ago, after I left the Orioles, I took another job. I didn’t like it. In fact, it gave me anxiety and stress. I was so miserable in it, I knew I needed to do something about it. I talked with my husband (we were newly married at the time), and asked him if I could quit my job and do the two things I loved most: teach part time and start a writing/design business. I did that. I found the gumption, and with his support, I made the change I needed to make. I had no regrets whatsoever, and that decision led me to my current teaching job at Stevenson University, where I am a full professor.
Gumption can be found when you sit around and say, “I wish I could do—.” Stop wishing, people! Get off your duff and do it. Find that gumption to run that 10K, write that novel, start your own business on the side, make a career change, volunteer at the local homeless shelter, or be an entrepreneur and bake goodies for local stores and bakeries.
Do you know why Nike’s slogan, JUST DO IT, has been successful for years and will never go out of style? Because it’s founded on GUMPTION. You’re not going to JUST DO IT without gumption.
As someone who prides herself on having gumption, I encourage you to do the same. Find it. Own it. Do something about it.
Stop settling and look at Iris’s face in the first photo.
Don’t you want to feel that way?
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.