Common Sense

Make no mistake. Common sense needs to be taught, learned, and worked on every single day.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

― Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

A member of your team does something not very smart, causing you to scream out loud, “where is your common sense? Why didn’t you let your common sense take over?” In fairness, we never explain common sense. We assume that everyone can determine the obvious. Common sense is something we all know we should possess, yet we have never spent one day of our life learning the requirements. We believe it’s easy to explain. The question becomes since we never teach common sense or determine if everyone shares the ability to see the obvious, why do we believe it’s common?

What is common sense? Webster’s Dictionary defines common sense as:

“Sound practical judgment; that degree of intelligence and reason, as exercised upon the relations of persons and things and the ordinary affairs of life, which is possessed by the generality of mankind, and which would suffice to direct the conduct and actions of the individual in a manner to agree with the behavior of ordinary persons.”

We all learn from an early age to use common sense, yet, as Will Rogers once said: “Common sense ain’t common.” Thomas Aquinas was a 13th-century Italian philosopher and theologian. Aquinas observed that people have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. He then added the notion of “the common sense.” Since we all have it, why do some seem to practice common sense while others ignore it?

As leaders, “common sense” is a subject that needs to be taught each day to our group. We cannot complain or label mistakes as a lack of common sense if we never go over the laws of having common sense. Make no mistake. Common sense needs to be taught, learned, and worked on every single day.

Individuals with common sense:

  1. Understand failure better than most. With common sense, you know when something is wrong and requires a change, of course. People with common sense are not stubborn or unwilling to alter their course of action.

  2. Practice loyalty. These people keep their promises and never under deliver.

  3. Use the word NO. Common sense requires boundaries and maintaining a moral compass for themselves.

  4. Are mentally tough. Common sense requires hard work. They keep their heads down and do not allow outside distractions to affect their focus or concentration.

  5. They understand the danger. Common sense requires having an understanding of the potential pitfalls and being able to see what lies one step around the corner.

Next time you get upset or irritated about the lack of common sense with your team, or with someone you love, make sure you explain the requirements.

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