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Common Sense…Not So Common


By Michael Aun


The saddest thing about common sense is it is not so common. You would think that the idiots in Washington parading around as Congressmen would understand that. But then I guess we get the kind of representation we deserve.

One suspects that some of the folks that represent us in our state and national capitals simply do not know when to come in out of the rain. That requires common sense.

Some folks do not know why others have the edge. Why does the early bird get the worm? Timing is important in life and yet life is not always fair. That takes common sense.

After being blessed in a marriage that has lasted nearly a half century, one would have to raise the question: “Why did I not learn sooner to own my problems, to admit it is my fault?” That would require common sense I suppose.

I do not know who coined the term “common sense.” It has been around forever, but it slowly seems like it is dead… or at best dying. 

Common sense figures into everything in life. Sadly, most of us learn that the hard way. For instance, it seems like it is common sense not to spend more than you earn.

When I speak to Gen-Z’s, my best advice to them is to save 40% of what they earn from day one. Best guess? Less than 3% do… and the others learn too late why they have no retirement.

When my three sons were growing up, we did not believe in allowances. Our allowance system worked like this: “If there is enough food left over, you get to eat. If there is an empty bed, you get to sleep.”

Not only did we not believe in allowances, but I also charged my sons to live in our home. They paid $228 per month of rent to live in our home. They could earn that by doing 228 chores per month in the household, i.e. make your bed, clean your room and so forth. 

When they were small, 5 and under, their list of chores read like “go to bed happy, wake up happy, beat dad up, give mom big smack attacks.” We always felt they should oversee their lives, finances included. Common sense.

I used to make of elaborate charts to hang on the wall with all the chores. When they did a chore, they could put a check mark in the column. We would settle up at the end of the month.

Mind you, this was pre-computer and Excel did not exist. After a few months of getting fed up with making charts, I decided to go to the instant pay system.

I went down to the old Lexington State Bank in Lexington SC and would get 1,000 one-dollar bills. I would take it down to my printer Junior Taylor and he would paint glue on the edge and pad them up. Now all they had to do was tear one off every time they did a chore. I learned early in life that kids are more motivated by instant gratification. You get the behavior you reward.

The late Dr. J. S. Liverman, the man who brought me and my ten siblings into this world, used to tell me “If you plant peas, you get peas.” Message… don’t expect a different result… it is just common sense.

Instead of common sense, today we have the alternatives, victim-hood, I know my rights, I want it now, it is not my fault, or I am the target not the cause. What happened to good ole common sense? Turns out it is not so common after all.

Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is the author of the Toastmasters International Guide to Successful Speaking®