The Wikipedia definition for common sense is: a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, shared by (common to) nearly all people. It is the one that tells you that when you decide to go jogging in a giant park of an unknown city, you should take with you a cellphone, credit card and maybe a pocket map readily available at the front desk of your hotel. I always believed I had a decent amount of it yet, on Monday morning, I found myself lost in the middle of Zilker Park with nothing but a room key and a fair amount of embarrassment.
Common sense was a recurring theme of the educations sessions. It was listed as the first C of “The 3Cs of Inventory Cost Control,” where Steve Argo explained that it is not something you learn through education, but from life experience, and more importantly, if you have it but don’t use it, it’s worthless. It was also brought up several times during the Ethics and Governance sessions by Anna McFarland and again when the Legal and Liability Issues for Private Clubs were addressed by Robyn Stowell and Michelle Tanzer.
We learn that the use of common sense can help us grow healthy relationships with staff, management, owners and customers and it can even save a lot of grief and a fair bit of money, by avoiding unnecessary risk or conflict. Every time an example is given of someone else acting without the use of it, we find it hard to believe and feel almost judgmental, confident that it would never happen to us.
After my mishap on Monday, followed by all the valuable lessons you would think that I would have had enough of it to stay indoors when my phone kept flashing up with repeated flash flood warnings on Wednesday afternoon. Proud Vancouverite, rain doesn’t bother me, it’s just the water that keeps my hometown lush and green, and WRONG AGAIN. Walking off into the storm, I laughingly enjoyed the warm rain, until suddenly I was ankle deep in water on the middle of the path that I was used to running on by now. At least I had enough sense to turn back to the hotel after the first moment I felt the rushing water strong enough to make my steps unsteady.
So why is it that we so often ignore our common sense, and do things despite our better judgment? Is it because we feel we can dodge the risk and allow ourselves to act motivated by strong emotions instead of making rational decisions? How do we find the balance between the risk that keeps us one step ahead of the crowd and the common sense that protects us from falling off the cliff?