Common Sense

Do you ever find yourself assessing another person’s words or observing their behaviour and questioning why they said or did what they did; and concluding that it was not appropriate because it was just common sense not to say or do it that way?

Common sense is not actually that common. What we know as common sense is actually an agreed set of words and behaviours that we have been exposed to and adopted in the environment in which we live and work.

Last year I was working with a Canadian Project Manager who prior to relocating to our beautiful shores, worked with NASA. Yes the ones that make rockets. In his spare time on weekends, he and his wife trained for ultra-marathons such as the Kalahari 250kms and Celtic 6 Day event.

Having lived much of his life in Canada where the weather reports focus on snow, ice and river flow for defrost, it was not common sense for him to not go for a run just because there was a storm warning. Not any storm warning, one with strong winds, potential hail and heavy rain; after all he had run in the rain before.

We who are aware of the number of lightning strikes, the ferocity of the winds and dangers of flash flooding would have said it was not common sense to go running with such warnings; however he did. He also told me he had learnt his lesson afterwards as he had not been exposed to such violent weather other than in the snow and did not realise that it could happen in the sub-tropical area.

There are many more aspects of our everyday life that we take for granted, because they are just what we do depending on the environment and these change regularly. Consider the common sense of the Asian and European families all sharing the same home so as the grandparents can mind the children and save on childcare; the common sense of members of developing countries not throwing large containers away when they have finished with them as they could be used to fetch an additional amount of water?

Next time you think that something is common sense; ask yourself how do I know this? Your thoughts may not be so common afterall.

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