Common Sense Life Mission-Based Alignment
Bill Cottringer

“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same things moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.” ~ William James.

A few years ago, a colleague of mine wrote an important business book called: “Mission-Based Alignment.” We applied the book’s main idea to our particular business—that when organizations such as ours focused on the right primary purpose and aligned all decisions and actions along side of that fundamental mission, the organizations were much more likely to be successful (the full definition) than organizations that didn’t do this.

Our security business model was based on delivering a quality security service to our customers and everything we did was judged against its value and contribution to that quality mission. However, without realizing it, I was already working from a life mission-based alignment model. Sometimes the thing you are already doing just needs a name to it.

I have written several articles on the topic of common sense, or should I say the success-blocking failures of the lack of common sense, and I am ready to start a movement to rediscover and reapply common sense to the difficult problems we face today. We can start with becoming more effective personally in relationships, work and play.

Earlier on in my life I created my noble life mission: To improve something in every situation I entered into someway, before leaving. This was a very global purpose of my life before Sara Standen, a feature journalist for a regional magazine in North Queensland, Australia, contacted me about the topic of common sense she was doing a piece on, in regards to some articles about it which I had written earlier.

This recent inquiry really stirred up my passion and helped me recognize the global and local applications of the main thing I have been writing about for decades—common sense—and how the lack of it keeps success at bay. Many people have realized that long-term success has to be built upon a strong foundation of common sense. It is the lack of common sense that most often results in failures. Bob Bennett’s concept of mission-based alignment is very good common sense, but it is only a finger pointing in the direction of the actual common sense principles and knowledge that actually make it work to get the desired results.

A trite but true mantra today is a reiteration of Will Roger’s quote, “Common sense ain’t so common.” In fact common sense has just about been eliminated from the human gene pool entirely, because the 5% common sense that does exist is well hidden away from seeing and hearing by the other 95% non-sense brought on by the nano-second bombarding distractions of all the current chaotic information overload. To make matters worse, we all sense urgency in finding this magical land of simple run by common sense because we “know” it is our only hope, but time is very short, given the ever-escalating overload and speed of change.
So, I am going to take my global mission in life and make it local by changing it slightly to be:
“To look for errors in applying common sense in every new situation I enter, so I can apply methods I know work to spot and use common sense to improve these situations before leaving them.” The situations will be in relationships, work and play and they all start with refocusing on the fundamental purpose of these things and aligning all my thinking, believing, choices, decisions and actions on being more successful these areas according to the value each new choice contributes to my mission in life and the situation I am in.

To get to this critical realization—that success has to be built on common sense—Isn’t an easy and quick thing, because you have to wade though swamps full of alligators to get to land. But in the meantime, there is a valuable common sense principle that opens the door to quicker and easier recovery of common sense: “You don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel, maybe just repair a few of the spokes.”

The repair of a few spokes involves knowing the common ways we avoid finding common sense. Finding common sense requires:

1. Making the frank private admission that you don’t have much common sense or could certainly use much more. In other words, what you think you know may not necessarily be so (the 5% common sense you “know” may just be part of the 95% nonsense). To do this you first have to talk yourself into setting aside your pride and ego, which have both served you well, but are now obsolete in having outlived their purpose.
2. Asking more and better questions about things you really don’t know and do need to know about being successful in finding and carrying out your main mission in life and in knowing the main purpose of the most important things in life—relationships, work and play—and being successful in those areas.
3. Developing a reliable truth thermometer to judge suspected common sense against, from the new practice of checking out assumptions your eyes and ears are making before turning them into beliefs set in concrete.
4. Slow down an notice the important connection between what choices you are making, the thinking that is involved, the results you are getting, and how all this makes you feel the way you want to or not.
5. Read about common sense by great common sense writers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Will Rodgers, Buddha, Jesus, Mohamed, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Bernard Shaw, William James, Voltaire, Di Vinci, Picasso, The Beatles, The Doors, or many other authors of music, literature, poetry or art. If you don’t have the time to read books, use the quick and easy common sense cure by typing in “common sense quotes” in a Google or Bing search and take the time to understand what these short common sense quotes really mean and how you can apply them to increase your own common sense and success.

I’d like to hear from anyone who would like to join this common sense movement to spread more common sense around with which we can all begin to unload the overload burden, start solving problems one by one, and enjoy life more in the land of simple.

Author's Bio: 

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