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Gumption Over Assumption

August 31, 2015

Gumption Over Assumption…having the courage to ask

by Jeanine Izzo

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Aside from the word rolling off the tongue in an interesting way, gumption plays an important role in our professional aspirations.  Gumption means taking initiative, being resourceful, displaying courage…having or building up the ability to act and ask with conviction and interest.

Then, as the title introduced, there is assumption.  An assumption is a guess we make due to limited information, uncertainty or fear.  There is no proof that the assumption is true or untrue, yet we believe it to be true until proven otherwise.

There is a difference between making assumptions on unknown elements related to a project for planning purposes (I.e.  Manufacturing will be done in Asia, regulatory approval will be granted, we will be the first to market with these new features, etc.) and making assumptions when the information is available but there has been no effort to prove the assumption right or wrong.  The goal with project assumptions is to fill them in as you go so that eventually you have a clear path on which to communicate, gain approval and proceed.

Today, we’re tackling assumptions on an individual level.  I have witnessed the suffering of those that stayed in the unknown zone for far too long.  Whether they wanted training, a promotion or to work on a special project…they stayed still, waiting, assuming the worst, sulking, stewing, blaming, badmouthing and allowing their motivation to decline at their own expense (not to mention the expense of the company).  The difference in these individual situations, versus a project situation, is that the information or desire they have can typically be answered…if only they could conjure up the courage (gumption) to ask and stop believing (assuming) that they already know the outcome.

Which of the following statements have you said or heard?

  • I already asked.
  • Jim already asked and he got turned down
  • The company never pays for that type of training
  • It’s impossible to go from this department to that one
  • I don’t have enough__________ (fill in the blank) for them to consider me
  • I haven’t been here long enough
  • I’ve been here too long
  • My manager doesn’t_________ (fill in the blank)

If you have said or propagated one or more of these, you could be your own blockade.  To further this idea, the following three thoughts cloud the ability to be successful and provide some alternate perspectives.

I assume I won’t get approved before I ask so that I won’t be disappointed.

If you ask assuming you will be turned down, you won’t prepare your case as well as necessary to achieve a different outcome.

If they say ‘no’ to my request, I lose.

Sometimes a no is the answer you need to understand your roadblocks…and perhaps to choose a different way forward.  If you really want it, prepare better, find a different approach and go in again.  On the other hand, if you discover you were not that interested after all, explore other options.

A ‘no’ today is a forever ‘no.’
Unfavorable answers today can open the door for future opportunities.  You had the courage to ask and communicate your desires and aspirations which may change the assumptions someone else made about you.

Forward Moving Tips:

  1. Know what you want and the related benefits
  2. Understand how you will be solving a problem or generating an opportunity for the company
  3. Figure out who can help you and how (i.e. clear a path, provide finances, approve time away, provide information)
  4. Prepare for a successful outcome
  5. Find the courage to move through whatever has been holding you back (fear, uncertainty, previous rejections) to ask for what you want


  • If the other party is clearly distracted or grumpy at the time of your request, abort for the time being and reschedule your attempt.  This will increase the probability of a productive conversation and a better result.
  • Don’t just accept a flat out no.  Be prepared with additional possibilities.  (i.e.  If budget cuts:  “When can we revisit this request?”  Or…”With training I can find company savings that will more than justify the cost of the class.”  Or…”What other ways can I gain the knowledge?”
  • Remember, your professional path is your responsibility

Instead of waiting and wondering, prepare and make your move to clarify assumptions with gumption.

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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