Making Common Sense More Common
Last year I got trolled on LinkedIn. Well, when I say trolled, I actually felt like it was a compliment, but I’m sure the person didn’t mean it that way. In reference to a video I posted, the person wrote, ‘I don’t know why people like this guy, all he does is talk common sense.’
See what I mean? When did it become a bad thing to reiterate some things that people should already know? But, it did cause me to self-reflect. Perhaps some of the things that I talk about – to paraphrase Mark Twain – aren’t that common, and my assumption that people know them, is incorrect.
So I thought I’d address that and publish a Common Sense Manifesto. A document that can be used by individuals and teams alike, wherever they are in the world, as a reminder of the things they should all be doing, all day, every day.
No ambiguity, no context required, just simple actions, using simple words. And let’s face it, simplicity is often hard to come by in the business world. There are people out there whose sole purpose seems to be to make things more complicated.
It’s time to take a stand against that. To call it out and make it easier to get things done, not harder. This is not a generational requirement, it’s a human one. It’s not about using technology either, as this can both help and hinder. It’s about making simple choices to be the best, most productive version of yourself and to help others do likewise.
These things will require courage, resilience, communication, challenge and, for some, a completely different mindset. It might mean that you have to assume the best of yourself and others whilst also questioning some of the things you tell yourself.
It’s a manifesto that you can apply to personal lives as well as professional ones. And if you want to ignore this completely, then of course that’s your choice too! Or perhaps you want to create your own common sense checklist – I hope you do!
1. Be a good human
Don’t do or say anything that another human would find offensive or upsetting
Don’t say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face
Recognise your emotions and keep them in check
Make an effort to understand how others are feeling
Challenge inappropriate behaviour and poor performance
2. Accept that you don’t know everything
Be open-minded to other ideas and opinions
Ask positive questions
See change as an opportunity to grow and develop
Understand and challenge your biases
Get into the habit of asking yourself ‘is there a better way to do this?’
3. Keep your promises
Do the work by the date you said you would
Reply to emails
Get to meetings on time
Make time for friends and family
4. Listen when you want to talk
Give others a chance to speak
Don’t show frustration or annoyance
Look people in the eyes when they’re talking
Take notes to capture your responses
Ask others for their thoughts, insights and experience
5. Use your time productively
Decline meetings that are of no value to you
Stop projects that aren’t going to deliver value
Learn how to say ‘no’ positively
Make time every day to do the work you’ve promised to do
Use downtime to increase your knowledge (see 6)
6. Never stop learning
Read books, blogs or watch videos that stretch your thinking
Make time to explore new ideas
Don’t use age or time as an excuse not to learn something new
Ask others to share their knowledge with you or set up a community to do so
Get the most from the technology that you use
7. Take a break
Take time away from your desk during your day
Find a good balance between your work and home lives but commit to both in equal measure
Take a holiday or a long weekend
Limit your screen time.
The great thing about common sense is that it transcends role, rank, responsibility – it’s something we can all do, right now. So, please share this manifesto, print it out, talk about it, add to it or pick one thing to do every week. It’s time to make common sense common!