I'm not sure I understand what this means. It sounds to me like gumption is a lack of foresight and planning. As I get older this sort of state is ever more difficult to achieve. And for the most part I avoid it.
I used to tackle problems by opening up my editor and getting some code in there as soon as possible. Before I had even fully considered the problem and its base cases I was throwing code at my compiler/interpreter and working out mistakes as I went. I could spend hours like this without being interrupted or missing a beat. I've come to believe that some people call this, "flow." I call it, "shotgun programming."
These days I find myself spending more time writing notes and thinking about the problem before I put my hands on a keyboard. I know the base cases before I begin to think about how to implement the solution and I write tests for them before anything else. In the end I write far less code than I used to and fix fewer bugs. But I never really feel like I am in the flow or programming with gumption.
How else can one avoid, "gumption traps?" I guess I've left one too many assembly rods on the shop floor over the years to be bothered to rush into it.
Careful planning and consideration would have avoided the mistake of forgetting the rod in the first place. The engine analogy is weak but in software you'd write the checks and balances into your process so that you couldn't forget the rod (good design principles, automated software testing).
Perhaps it was also the wording in the opening paragraphs which threw me off the most. I often find myself drifting off into space while I whittle away the problem in my head. Then I get down to the base cases, tests, and once I am satisfied I will begin writing code. The doesn't sound to me like like being at the front of anything.
I think I get the gist of it but I just wasn't clear one way or the other which way the author was leaning.
I definitely don't think the OP was advocating shotgun programming (although I don't think the OP was explicitly advocating against it either).
I loved the book, for the record.
The author has clearly not found a way.
Anyway, I have now heard about the zen of motorcycle maintenance so often, I'm starting to think I should read it even though I have no motorcycle, no workshop and as much practical skills as Clarkson.
But I did once sew on a button. I was very proud.
His later work Lila - is similarly subtitled "An Inquiry into Morals"
I highly recommend them both.
Also, I have never played tennis but I read the book 'The inner game of Tennis' (W. Timothy Gallwey) and it was a very enlightening experience for me.
It seems some of these books somehow use the subject matter purely as a parable or metaphor that is so powerful, and they shine a light on a very core aspect of being.
I recommend the 'inner game of tennis' to anyone , even if you never hit a single ball in your life ...
I was born in '79 so although I was alive in 70s I wasn't really part of the whole free love movement or anything :)
I'm not sure its even that popular of a book for that cohort... I mean its a philosophical novel, what's the size of that market ever been?
There are certainly some things addressed in the book that aren't as applicable in a modern setting but the main thrust of the book investigates the intrinsic value or quality of things - That should always be applicable to future generations.
But that's just my opinion.
I tell all my intern intends to "code forth bravely".