I came across a question today on LinkedIn about common sense. It was posted by Klynn A. in the UK, who originally asked:“Voltaire once said ‘Common sense is not so common’, but what is common sense?”
A: Here is the reply I posted:
Here’s a paradox: think of “common sense” as the opposite of “conventional wisdom.” I know that sounds weird… the basis for the weirdness is people’s unspoken expectation that the human condition is imperfect.
“Conventional wisdom” is often used to describe a line of thinking that is accordance with our imperfect human condition. When we apply “conventional wisdom” to a situation, we can therefore expect to achieve imperfect results that would be not-too-dissimilar from what most other people would be able to achieve.
On the other hand, “common sense” is a line of thinking that is NOT in accordance with the human condition. “Common sense” is a line of thinking that breaks the mold, that allows us to rise above our imperfections and deal with a situation with total efficacy.
Common sense is truly special because it represents our full potential, whereas conventional wisdom merely reflects our current state.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.