Just Use Common Sense, Or Should You?

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What exactly is ‘common sense’? To some it means using logic to draw an obvious conclusion such as “if the roast doesn’t fit in the pan, trim off the edges.” To others it is the unquestioned logic of the masses; beliefs most commonly held by the majority. This should make us wary. After all, where has our ‘common sense’ gotten us so far? As a whole, we continue to act barbaric with painful and unjust behaviors and negative symptoms and struggles of every type imaginable, even in the US where we are supposed to be enlightened and progressive.

A woman was preparing a roast and as was her common practice she cut off both ends of it and threw them away. One day her husband asked, “Why do you always cut off the ends and throw them away?” to which she replied, “That’s how my mother always did it.” The man then went to his mother-in-law and asked her, “Why do you always cut off the ends of the roast and throw them away?” to which she replied, “That’s how my mother always did it.” So, he went to her mother and asked her the same question, to which she replied, “So my roast would fit in my pan.”


People follow the herd because it’s easier to, even if it is failing. We must question ‘common’ beliefs, practices and seek out another way of seeing and responding? Here are just a few beliefs many still follow blindly:

People who do bad things should be punished

This is such a ‘common’ way of thinking that people make it into a validating spiral. For example, they punish the offender and he gets worse, which causes a greater conviction that he is irredeemable and deserves more punishment. Not only does this ‘common’ belief hurt the offender who becomes distracted by this, it hurts the punisher and all of us in the collective who tolerate it, because we internalize this belief, thinking and acting as if self-recrimination and self-punishment are deserved and necessary, weakening all of us. There is a tribe in Africa that responds to negative behavior as if it is a group issue (a systems problem) that needs to be owned and resolved by every member. They do this by helping the offender to remember his or her goodness in a recognition ceremony so he or she can be restored to best behavior. Nothing takes precedence over this, and as a result, need for this ‘justice system’ is rare.

People must earn respect, trust and love

This one is right up there with “It’s a dog-eat-dog world and he or she better learn that fast.” Imagine a world in which every person you met from infancy on – offered you respect, revered you, sought your advice, and showered you with recognition and love. Would you be harmed by this? Or would you live into the ‘common sense’ idea that you are and want to be great, and that if you are not, you need only to remember how loved, trusted and respected you already are?

People must maintain compartmentalized personal and professional lives

Imagine being able to be the same person wherever you go. You are comfortable in your skin, including your emotions, your intellect and your body. You speak without fear, know how to care for others and self, and are confidently authentic and vulnerable in all expressions of you as part of a loving, caring community in which you are wholly good.

Some people are winners and some are losers.

Some believe “that’s just the way it is.” Why? Imagine the field was level and everyone was helping everyone to be wildly successful in it. This is heaven on earth. This is abundance thinking. You see some who know and act on this and unfortunately, they remain the outliers because our current ‘common sense’ does not allow for this.

As you move your business forward, be willing to challenge the status quo in all of your decisions, including widely held ‘common sense” ideas that need to be scrutinized. In this way you ensure your ‘uncommon success’ in days to come. 

As published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, May 2019

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