What is gumption?

 

What Is Gumption?

 

gumption [guhmp-shun]
origin: 1710-1720, Scots

1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness.

With her gumption, she'll make a success of herself.

2. courage; spunk; guts.

It takes gumption to admit you need help.

3. common sense; shrewdness.

Together with Andrew Chisholm, OurGumption will help you achieve your goals.

Edison clearly valued gumption. The engineers who combined learned methods with common sense, creativity, and resourcefulness finished first. And you can too.

Thomas Edison had a unique way of hiring engineers. He'd give the applicant a light bulb and ask, "How much water will it hold?" Two methods were used to solve this problem.

The first method was to use gauges to measure all the angles of the bulb. Then, with the measurements in hand, the engineer would calculate the volume of the bulb and thus the volume of water it would hold. This approach could take as long as twenty minutes.

The second method was to fill the bulb with water and then pour the contents into a measuring cup. Total elapsed time: about a minute.

Engineers who used the first method were thanked politely for their time and sent on their way. Those who used the second method would hear Edison say, "You're hired!"

(Armstrong, David M. Managing by Storying Around: A New Method of Leadership. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Print.)