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Common Sense From the Common ManA Common Man's Survival Guide for Common Men
By Dan Bael
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Dan Bael
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhy Listen To Me?
Okay, so I have to bring this to the front burner first and foremost. "Why should I listen to this guy?" will probably be the first question that comes to your mind. Well, for starters, the book is entitled Common Sense From The Common Man and that's exactly who I am: a common man. The next thing I'm sure you're asking yourself is, "So if this guy is so common, why should I listen to him?" The answer to that is simple. I've got knowledge and I'm willing to share it with you. If you want to take said knowledge, act on it, and maybe better yourself in the process, then good for you. If you choose to do nothing with the knowledge that I'm offering — well, you already bought the book, so no skin off my back.
I'm not trying to be condescending at all. I just want to take the nuggets of wisdom that I've stored in my big head and pass it along to others in the hopes that maybe it will help one, some, or all of you in some way or another. One would think that with all of these useful tidbits that I would be a success story of Tom Vu-like proportions. However, I'm exactly where you guys are right now ... just the average man hoping that he can muddle through his life somehow and turn out to be somewhat of a success.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Red Flag! If you've got such useful advice that can change the course of my life, then why are you treading water in the same desolate pit of a swamp that I'm in? I'm sure you're saying to yourselves right now. Well, the simplest answer is this: I've got no motivation. Think about it, even without inspiration, the most skilled carpenter with the most expensive tools in the world isn't going to build anything. That's why I'm writing this book right now; this is me starting to get motivated, and the first step is to realize the fact that I actually have the tools and the skills to be successful. Now these useful pieces of advice aren't anything mind-blowing. I haven't been given any special signs from above (or below for that matter) and I'm certainly no guru when it comes to — well, when it comes to anything. The one thing that I have excelled at is being able to think analytically and break things down into their simplest forms — or to put it in another way, I'm a practitioner of common sense. Surprisingly, common sense just isn't that common anymore. In our society, we tend to complicate situations by over-scrutinizing them, over-clocking our minds on different scenarios of how a situation can play out. In my experience, 99% of the time, people will succeed if they take a step back and just think simply about the situation. This is exactly what I would like to share with you all because I'm just a giving kind of guy — which leads me to my very first piece of knowledge, which I'll call The Bael Formula:
SUCCESS = MOTIVATION x (KNOWLEDGE + SKILL)
I promise that this is the only math that's going to appear in this book. However, this is probably the most important thing that you can learn, so if you take away only one thing from this book after reading it, it's the formula above. So what exactly does The Bael Formula mean?
If we take a look at the formula and break it down, we obviously see that it's a formula for success, or rather the chances of it. Success is never guaranteed. However, take a look at the right side of the equation in a mathematical sense. Firstly, let's measure success in numerical terms, meaning the higher the number, the greater amount of success. By taking that concept, if we were to say that you had no motivation, that would mean that your motivation=0, and no matter how much knowledge or skill you have, if you multiply them by zero, you still get zero. With that being said, if you have some motivation and some degree of knowledge and/or skill, then you'd have some degree of success. Now according to this formula, the more motivation, knowledge, and skills that you have, the higher your rate of success will be. Never forget, all of the brains and skill in the world mean nothing if you don't have the motivation to apply them. So then what exactly is motivation?
Webster's defines motivation as "The act or process of motivating." Okay, technically that's a correct definition, but not the one that we're looking for. So let's take a look at the second definition that they list: "The psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal." Now when we consider that definition, we have to focus on the phrase "desired goal" (although some of you are focused on the word "arouses" &mndash; perverts). Why? Because before we can start our path to success, we need to know exactly what it is that we want. Remember: a journey without a destination is just walking.
So how can you determine what your goal should be? Well, only you can decide that. Remember first that every day we all have myriad goals ranging from the very minute to the haltingly unattainable; from deciding what kind of breakfast we're going to have to how we're going to end up marrying Angelina Jolie. The goals that I'm talking about are those of the higher caliber: romance, careers, general well-being, etc. If you need assistance trying to decide how you want your eggs in the morning, then I suggest that you close this book, return it, and then use the money towards a good therapist. Once you determine what it is you want to accomplish, then hopefully there's a section in this book that will aid you in your quest. What I present before aren't any lessons based on a new and innovative way of thinking. I'm dealing strictly with common sense, and the reason I'm doing so is because common sense is a tool that we all have access to because it lives inside of us. Sometimes we just forget that it's there.
Chapter TwoCommon Sense Isn't So Common Anymore
What exactly is common sense? It should seem simple enough — the name in itself seems to provide the definition: common, meaning "something that is shared by the many" and sense, meaning (in this light) "judgment." It would seem that the two words together describe a sound judgment that is agreed upon by all. However, it seems nowadays that common sense is no longer as ubiquitous as its name would imply. I'm not sure if it was ever as prevalent throughout the world as I'd like to believe, but I have noticed a decline in the utilization of it as of late. I'm starting to notice that some people have totally lost an understanding of what the phrase literally means. I actually heard a manager at my old job responding to one of his employees who was debating that the manager's decision wasn't right, and the opposite of his decision was "just common sense." Can you guess what the manager's response was? He actually said, "Well, one person's common sense is different than another person's common sense." Hello?! If common sense is different for everyone, then it wouldn't be called common sense now would it? So why has something that actually has the word "common" in its name become so rare?
I think the problem lies in the structure of today's society. Our world today is all about getting the most that we can get in the least amount of time while doing as little as possible to get it. We have inventions that no longer fall in the realm of creating new and unheard of innovations; they instead allow us to simply indulge in the realm of convenience. The get-rich-quick scheme has replaced the hard-day's-work and we have given up a big part of our humanity in order to come to the show. As we continue to sink into this plush and sedentary lifestyle, we lose the base tools that we are born with due to simple lack of use. Those same conveniences that we so highly desire and put all of our stock in actually rob us of those base instincts that we would normally use to survive, and one of those most important assets is common sense. I am not one to pass judgment, however, as I highly enjoy all of the conveniences that encompass our world, and I freely utilize as many as I can every day. What you need to understand is that just because you partake in all of the amenities our society offers us, it does not mean that you have to be robbed of your innate talents and abilities.
Another reason that seems to keep people from utilizing sound judgment throughout their daily lives is that today's way of thinking is totally different than it was in the past. It seems to me that we are starting to think more and more like our computers. Our judgment and decision making skills are full of "if/then" processes, basically keeping us bound to live our life in what we know and what we can be told. Humans still have the capacity to learn, but we seem to be shying away more and more from knowing how to learn. What has always separated us from machines is our ability to reason; however, as I deal with more people from day to day, I find that the line that represents that separation has started to blur. I think the reason for that is because as our society becomes inundated with ways in which a person can receive information, it also becomes very easy for some entities to tell people what they should be thinking or what they should be doing. As our more recent generation is spoon-fed their thoughts and ideals, it becomes very difficult for them to develop any of their own.
With these huge forces of influence encompassing a huge space in all of our lives, how can we hope to get back to the path of independent learning and judgment? I've found that we as humans need to exercise our figurative "common-sense muscle" so that it doesn't atrophy from lack of use. I think the best way to do that is by re-incorporating common-sense into our daily lives as much as possible.
It's in our nature to utilize common sense. Our ancestors have imprinted thousands upon thousands of years of learning on our genetic code; it's up to each one of us to utilize that gift instead of letting it sit idle while we allow the world to tend to us. Regardless of what outside factors are present in your life that can hinder your ability to utilize sound judgment, it's ultimately up to you to keep that facet of your humanity and fight to preserve it. Your ability to make that choice is what defines your humanity, so always keep that in mind. Before we start covering anything though, there's one thing that needs to be done first and foremost.
Chapter ThreeKnow Thyself
There's one thing that many people out there don't realize, yet it's something that we all strive for: the ability to know who we are. Many people are under the misconception that they know exactly who they are ... we live with ourselves 24 hours a day, don't we? Well that sense of one's self is actually a major facet of the problem of not knowing one's self. This is due to the fact that as human beings, we generally see ourselves as we would like to be and discount anything that we may consider to be faults, flaws, and shortcomings. However, it's these same faults, flaws, and shortcomings that allow us to understand what we need in order to better ourselves, and in turn, determine what our goals should be. There's no question: it can be very difficult to try to know who you really are as a person. People in general seem to be so preoccupied with what others think about them that they mold themselves into a veritable shell full of other people's perceptions. There's only one person who knows exactly who you are deep down inside, and that's you; but it's not that simple. You may need to do some digging through all those layers of skewed self-perception that you've built around yourself, and it may take a monumental effort to find the real you. Without this knowledge, you couldn't possibly hope to correctly build yourself into the man that you want to be. That's akin to building a house without a proper foundation: you may end up with something that looks aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but in reality you have something that isn't strong enough to sustain itself, especially under pressure.
So how do you find the real you? The truth is there's no set answer for everyone — that's just a fact of life: what works for one may not work for another. There are, however, some points and exercises that you can remember that may help you in discovering the real you. Before you try anything, remember one thing: CLEAR YOUR MIND! You need to work with a clean slate and understand that you shouldn't be embarrassed by anything. This is all about you and the betterment of yourself — don't lie to yourself! Remember when you were a kid and you used to go to the eye doctor? Remember how he would ask you to read the eye chart to the best of your ability? And what did you do? You would do anything to try to get it right — you'd squint, you'd squirm, you would literally try to bug your eyes out to try to make out what that line was, and sometimes you succeeded. So what did that get you? It got you the wrong prescription for your glasses which didn't help you at all, did it? You were so busy trying to make sure that the optometrist wasn't made aware of your shortcomings in vision that you ended up hurting yourself in the end. So that's why it's important to be completely honest with yourself when trying to find out who you are. For many people, this is probably the biggest obstacle, so once you can be completely honest with yourself — and believe me, you'll know when you are — give yourself a nice pat on the back.
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, we need to start the journey on finding the real you. This in itself is not an easy task, and rest assured if you don't complete it, you're certainly not alone. The trick is to remember that although finding out who you really are is ultimately your goal, you in all likeliness will not succeed. Fear not, as this is one of those "the journey is more important that the destination" type of deals, so the payoff comes from the effort that you put into this task. Make your best attempt to find out who you are, and it will be worth it in the end.
Here are a couple of things that you can try to help find the real you. Remember! Be honest with yourself!
Exercise 1 - Make a List of Your Likes and Dislikes
Take the time to list things that you love and things that you hate. The thing to keep in mind is to make sure that when you think about the things you love, you need to actually think about items that give you a true feeling of positivity, not things that would satiate a need or a void. Things that we actually consider our "likes" evoke an automatic positive response without the need to think about it. However, there are things out there that create a positive vibe, but in reality merely satisfy a need or urge. These would more realistically be considered catalysts or crutches, and are not actually true desires.
For example: I had a friend who was sick and tired of her job. She moaned and groaned every day about how she actually couldn't wait to get laid off so that she could get her big fat severance check, the one that she earned after working at the company for over 15 years. Well, the time came where her office actually did close, so she had the option of taking the severance check or relocating. And was she finally happy with getting that nice check? Not in the least. She begrudgingly moved to another state to keep her job because she realized that it was more important for her to actually have the job than that pot-o'-gold severance check. Thinking about how much money that lump sum severance was made her delude herself into thinking that that was what she actually wanted. She began to convince herself that the job was horrible just because the thought of making thousands of dollars in one fell swoop sounded nice to her. However, in reality, it wasn't what she really wanted. She had over-analyzed getting that severance check so much that it clouded her judgment and she didn't realize how much she actually loved the job and the people she worked with. So take that lesson from her: make sure that you understand that there is a big difference between what you really want and something that would be nice to have.
Now I understand that this may seem a little elementary, but by becoming familiar with our basic desires and aversions, we may be able to find patterns that could be representative of our own character. Does your "Likes" list contain a lot of sweets, confections, or food items? This may indicate a pattern of self- indulgence. Are sports a major part of your list? Depending on the sport, it could either mean that you've got a competitive nature, or it could also mean that you thrive on the aspect of being part of something bigger, contributing to the team. The same thing goes for your "Dislikes" column. Do you really hate crowds or loud music? That could mean that you don't get enough time for yourself and need a personal sabbatical. You may get something out of this exercise, or you may not — but it doesn't hurt to try.
Excerpted from Common Sense From the Common Man by Dan Bael Copyright © 2010 by Dan Bael . Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Why Listen To Me?....................9
Common Sense Isn't So Common Anymore....................13
It's All About The Attitude....................23
Understanding Your "Val-You"....................37
Can You Hear Me Now?....................41
Getting Good At Oral....................55
Validity Through Fluidity....................63
The Ladies, Man Part 1: How Not To Be a Playa....................67
The Ladies, Man Part 2: Bust a Move....................73
The Ladies, Man Part 3: Be a Smooth Operator....................89
So What Are You Gonna Do With Your Life?....................93
Don't Be A Sheep....................99
Ten Things I Like About You....................105
We've Only Just Begun....................111