Common Sense Is Quite Uncommon
Our A students become professors. Our B students go to law school. Our C students rule the world.
So wrote Dean of Harvard College, Henry Rosovsky.
The inference to be drawn from Rosovky’s observation is that common sense will take one very far in life. Street smarts trump book smarts.
Everybody seems to know that common sense is always the answer.
So wouldn’t you think that everybody would rely on common sense to help them succeed? That’s only common sense, right?
Actually, common sense doesn’t really exist.
Common sense, by definition, is an understanding of a situation shared by nearly everyone. It refers to things beyond debate. The problem is that reactions and understandings are individual and, therefore, not common.
We cannot assume that everyone should react to a situation like we do, even though we think they should. When you are baffled that someone could do or say something completely off the chart, you must remember that those people don’t think like you and you don’t think like they do.
We end up insulting others when we condemn how they interpret a situation in a manner inconsistent with our way of thinking.
Having said that, there is a way of doing things that should make sense to most people, to the consensus and a lot of people fail to do just that.
They violate what we consider to be ‘common sense.’ There are glaring examples throughout our industry.
One example is presenting charts, numbers and graphs to someone with limited or no knowledge of investing, when all that person is looking for is someone to trust.
They don’t want to know the one-, five- and ten-year results. They want to know what your parents taught you. Most people would agree that showing them results best expressed in numbers is a way of talking down to them. They’d rather know that you are a good and trustworthy person.
Another example is not prospecting every day when your goal is to make your business grow by adding new accounts and additional assets.
To not proactively prospect is to assume that people are going to look you up and drop their money off. Most people would agree that your business plan is delusional.
To not be able to explain to your clients why it makes sense for them to give you referrals is yet another example of flying in the face of consensus. They’re not thinking about referrals, you are. The idea of meeting the neighbors is not going to pop into their heads. To think that going to happen does not make sense to most people.
To spend a lot of time and effort coming up with solutions and then not ask for a commitment is foreign to the casual observer who has never felt the sting of rejection. Most people would agree that you get what you get in life by asking. To expect to receive something without asking for it is naïve.
So, common sense is not so common.
We are all individuals with our unique reactions. But business-building sense does exist. To succeed as a Financial Advisor, you must do those things which lead to success in business. To not prospect or to not ask for what you want will result in failure. Everyone knows that.
While common sense may not exist, streets smarts do exist.
You can get all A’s and still flunk life.
So wrote Walker Percy.