This site is an always-in-progress repository for my thoughts and ideas. You'll generally find me writing about sustainability 🍃, urbanism 🏙️, programming 💾, vegan cooking 🍛, and whatever else pops into my mind.

These notes are derived from chapter 26 of Robert Pirsig’s Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve found the ideas of gumption to be very helpful while working on projects- both professional and personal. I’m sharing them here in the hope that others might also find the summary useful, but if you like what you see I’d highly recommend giving the original text a read.

Gumption is a term used to describe enthusiasm for your work. It’s the psychological gasoline that keeps you going.

Progress on a project is impossible without gumption, but when properly nurtured progress is impossible to avoid. The monitoring and preservation of gumption is the most important aspect of work.

Gumption traps

Gumption traps reduce your ability to work. They are classified in two types: setbacks and hang-ups. Setbacks describe external circumstances that can throw you off of your work- think of a manual having a missing step or accidentally stripping a screw while putting together some furniture. Hang-ups are forms of interference that come from within.



A suggestion from the book is to keep a notebook logging every step in your diagnosis/debugging process. This helps you do things more quickly the second time around and helps maintain gumption. I’ve found this technique to be immensely helpful in diagnosing software issues.


Hang-ups, the kinds of problems that come from within, can be sub-divided into a number of traps:


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@vesto i love that word. it’s one of my favorites