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William S. Cottringer

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Success Built On Common Sense
By William S. Cottringer
Last edited: Friday, February 05, 2010
Posted: Friday, February 05, 2010

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• Common Sense is Over-rated
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Long lasting success has to be built on common sense, which unfortunately isn't so common these days.

 Success Built On Common Sense


Bill Cottringer


Common sense is the simple knack of seeing something the way it is and doing something the way it should be done.” ~Mark Twain.



      Is it just my imagination or is common sense being bred out of the human gene pool entirely?  Some say the magnitude and complexity of today’s problems confronting us requires a super human “higher consciousness” to solve. I disagree and prefer to assign the best potential solution to our problems on to common sense. But maybe in an odd sort of way, these two things are really one and the same in the sense of coming full circle in our thinking.


      We just don’t want to ignore Einstein’s common sense in denying the reality that “you can’t solve a problem using the same type of thinking that created it.” I am relatively certain that common sense didn’t create the problems we face today, but I am even surer that it is the only likely solution.


     Why is common sense so uncommon today? I think there are two very good reasons:


·       We originally invented language and words to represent real physical objects that we couldn’t carry around to show and talk about them firsthand, for obvious practical reasons. It didn’t take very long for the gap to grow humongous between the words and the objects they were supposed to represent. Before long there were so many word and layers of abstraction between them any the objects they stood for, that any similarity or commonality became lost somewhere between obscurity and oblivion. Can anyone conjure up a concrete image or simple meaning for words such as love, truth, good, productivity, beauty, success, happiness or the like? That is doubtful.

·       When the word explosion met the computer and the Internet, all hell broke loose and now we are totally overloaded with information and knowledge that keeps changing and growing at the speed of light. To make matters worse, time is very short and the success quest to sort through this chaos of information to get to what really matters most is in a hurried, a panicky frenzy going nowhere. In the blur, we miss the methods that have to be used to capture the 5% common sense that has been buried in the 95% of the overloaded chaotic nonsense.


      I have gotten resistance to my idea that common sense can be taught and learned. But I am living proof that it can be learned from life. I had to go through the entire educational ladder and then spend years of living to learn how to apply all the wonderful knowledge I gained to get any real results with it. As far as teaching it, you have to first have it and then develop the patience and skills to pass on the methods you used to acquire it. My favorite method was living on a farm and trying to survive 115-dgree rainless summers and -70-degree wind chill winters without water pressure. Animals and crops taught me a lot about common sense and that helped me in my full-time job counseling mental health patients about common sense solutions to life’s problems.


    Here are ten common sense solutions to help rebuild the store of common sense in the collective consciousness floating around in the atmosphere, for those short on it, to tap into:


1.     Listen twice and talk once, or less.

2.     Stop doing so much and quietly look, see and study things.

3.     Ask good questions to learn useful information, especially about what you think you know to be so, but it isn’t.

4.     Observe people who you know to have a lot of common sense and tag along with them.

5.     Stop assuming what you think your eyes and ears know, when your mouth should be trying to verify.

6.     Look for and collect governing principles that explain how life, people and things really work and then look for applications of these principles to get results.

7.     Develop a reliable standard against which you can judge the truth of something, especially in moral matters.

8.     Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances; just don’t take failure fatally.

9.     Let go of the illusion of control and start noticing the few things that really are under your control and make smart choices to exercise more responsible control over those things

10.  Set goals to learn a few things that will help you be successful in whatever you are doing right now; start with learning the negative metaphors that you aren’t managing very well, that are keeping you from learning more common sense and being successful.


     Success is built on a common sense foundation. The better the foundation is, the longer lasting the success. That is common sense you can take to the bank for a quick investment and withdrawal. Guaranteed!


William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including his latest book “Reality Repair” coming shortly from Global Vision Press. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or


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