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Why Common Sense Doesn’t Translate to Common Practice

My father once told me something that you have probably heard in some shape or form. He told me, “Ken, if common sense was truly common then more people would have it.”

As I’ve thought about this over the years, I’ve come to realize that some people have truly uncommon sense – they are able to anticipate things others cannot. They see opportunities where others see a blank page or a problem. Many of our innovations and advances have originated from this uncommon outside-the-box thinking.

But I say this not to diminish the importance of common sense.

Common sense and how it is applied forms the basic building blocks of life, relationships, finances, and so much more. Common sense provides shared pathways of understanding and tools for navigating life. Over thousands of years, the human race has discovered and developed certain operating principles that both save time and lives.

Simply put, there are times when we need common sense, not uncommon sense. For example: “Should I put my hand on this hot stove?”

Uncommon sense may say, “Sure, why not! It’s an opportunity to test mind over matter.”

Common sense tells you, “Not if you want to keep all five of your fingers.”

What are other examples of basic common sense?

  • Don’t spend more than you make.
  • Eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep.
  • Don’t throw fuel on a fire – whether that’s a real fire or a work conversation.
  • Save for retirement.
  • Rotate your tires.
  • The Golden Rule – treat people the way you want to be treated.

For many of us, these are not ground-breaking, revolutionary ideas. No one needs uncommon sense to know that if you don’t rotate your tires they will wear out faster and become unsafe in the process. Common sense doesn’t require a college education. But it does require one thing?

Common sense needs to be put into practice.

When common sense becomes common practice, relationships are transformed. Work environments become more productive. People are nicer, kinder, and more willing to help others.

So, how does common sense become common practice? Or — better yet — what keeps common sense from becoming common practice?

It’s our habits.

Human beings are creatures of habit. We have habitual ways of thinking that may actually contradict common sense principles. We have habitual ways of acting that chip away at the building blocks of a healthy life or relationships. These habits may be deeply rooted in spiritual, psychological, or even biological sources. With that in mind, how can you start to change your habits?

The first step is to recognize your habits. That’s hard to do because we often see our habits as natural or “that’s just the way I am.” We might even confuse our habits with our identity.

Ask for advice and feedback. One good reason to see a counselor, therapist, or coach is to have access to an objective set of eyes. They often see our habits much quicker — and accurately — than we do.

Experiment with something new. Small, incremental change sustained over time can lead to tremendous transformation. Need evidence? Study the power of compound interest.

Tweak, adjust, and course-correct. The best habits are often developed through a process of refinement. You might hear or read something that puts your new habit into motion. To make it truly your own will often require adjustment.

Stick with it. New habits aren’t formed overnight. They are the result of persistent action taken over a long period of time. How long? Well, that’s been debated for years. I can you tell you this: it’s longer than one day and shorter than one year.

I hope this tips help you make common sense a common practice in your life.

Experience and Background

  • Professor at Warner University
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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