Embrace the obvious!

One of the most curious things about people is their difficulty in recognizing the obvious — that which is right in front of their faces.  Do you ever notice that when you are looking for your keys, they are in your hand?  How about when you want to find your glasses and they are sitting right on top of your head? 

Over the last several decades I have been continually reminded of one major lesson I have learned in life.  The message is that “The magic is in the obvious.”  This means that the answers to your dilemmas are often right in front of your face.  The paradox is “that which is obvious is often the hardest to see!”

In order to improve your quality of life, you must look, discover the obvious, learn something, and then do something about it.

Some examples of this are the following:

  • If you tend to be pessimistic and miserable, how much time are you spending by complaining, playing victim, and feeling sorry for yourself?
  • If your business is doing poorly, how much are you actually contributing to poor customer service? How much might you and your people be helping the customers to remain dissatisfied?
  • If your marriage is one where you feel emotionally malnourished, how much are you withholding nourishment (love, care, respect, patience, reinforcement, affection and support)? How much might you be expecting nourishment from a spouse who is unmotivated to give it because he/she is malnourished?

These answers are often so obvious that we have trouble seeing them.  What is even more curious is that everyone else can see what is right in front of you except you!

What do you do?

  1. Ask yourself, “What is obvious here? What do I need to see?  What can everyone see that might be difficult for me to see or to accept?”
  2. ASK FOR HELP. Frequently, you are so close to it that it becomes impossible to see the obvious.  Ask someone for whom you have respect and trust to help you see what is going on.  Tell them that it is likely to be so obvious that you are unable to see it.
  3. Do something about it! Learn and then change something – your behavior, contribution, relationships, and/or habits – anything!  Do something different and the situation will likely change, possibly for the better.

Get started with Embracing the Obvious, Practice Common Sense!

Do you ever notice how often you hear people say, “That’s just common sense; everyone knows that!”  This is true.  Almost everyone does know that.  It is obvious!  However, much of the time the difficult challenge is to recognize the common sense that is right in front of you.  Sometimes you are simply too close to it.  Your emotions create filters and amplifiers that cloud out the obvious and reality.

Here are some examples of your inability to see the obvious:

  • Your Money. If you are concerned about your financial situation, you may want to realize the obvious — that perhaps you are spending more than you make.  It is time to spend less and live within your means.  This means you will sometimes have to say “No” and disappoint others.
  • Your Self-Pity. If you notice that you spend most of your time complaining, whining, feeling sorry for yourself and playing victim, you may want to realize the obvious — that you are spending too much time describing your problems rather than solving them.  Perhaps it is time to start taking responsibility for yourself, your life, your choices, and start being proactive rather than reactive.
  • Your Immaturity. If you notice that you are always blaming others for your situation, then you may want to realize the obvious — look in the mirror and start owning the cards that are dealt.  Perhaps it is time to take your future into your own hands.  Start from here and chart your life course.
  • Your Self-Concept. If you continually feel weak, defective, undisciplined, lonely, unworthy, stupid, and unlovable, you might want to realize the obvious — that what you believe you will prove.  Spend time with friends and family, start achieving and affiliating with others.  When you keep achieving, reaching out to others, and practicing activities you like, you will gradually feel better, become more lovable, and be respected.

Remember that the magic is in the obvious.  The obvious is often Common Sense and, Common Sense is very uncommon!

So take another look at the obvious and you might be surprised at what has been there right in front of you.

Here are some more examples of the Obvious:

  • If it is Common Sense to know that regularly reinforcing and supporting others will result in improved performance in business, then why do so many supervisors only deliver criticism or silence when it comes to giving feedback?
  • If it is Common Sense to treat others with respect, then why are so many people rude, critical, contemptuous, and indifferent?
  • If it is Common Sense that great service will motivate customers to return and remain loyal, then why is it that customer service often resembles anything but service most of the time?
  • If it is Common Sense that to be successful in life the two most important habits we must practice are:
    1. Getting along well with others (relationship skills)
    2. Managing money (financial literacy) then why is it that people have so many failed relationships (at home and work) and are financially dysfunctional?
  • If it is Common Sense to treat your spouse with support, respect, regard, affection, and love (the courtship behavior), then why is it that so many marital partners replace those habits with indifference, defensiveness, and contempt?

The answer is because Common Sense is very uncommon!

Common Sense is what we know.  It is sensible, prudent, practical, logical, empirical, and reflects sound judgement.  It is obvious.

What we know is inside us.  It is internally grounded, reflects self-respect, trusting our judgement, calm resolve.  Common Sense is strategic, long-term, broad-based, functional, responsible, and moral.  In our moments of clarity, it is what we know in our gut!

Imagine that you put Common Sense in your dominant hand.  Your Common Sense (what you know) is always available to you in your dominant hand.  It is what you know and it is right there in front of you.  Clearly some of our ongoing behavior reflects Common Sense and when we do behave that way, life is generally good.  However, some of our behavior is lacking in Common Sense and when we abandon the obvious we are practicing insanity!

Insanity is too often what we do:  doing the same thing over and over again, resulting in the same poor outcome, with the illusion that if we keep doing it that way we will achieve a different outcome.

Frequently what we do is a function of familiarity and habit.  What we do is subject to peer pressure.  It is too often influenced by others outside us.  It is shortsighted, short-term oriented, subject to approval of others, dependent on fear and doubt, and reflects a reaction to irrational emotions at the time.

Insanity occurs when we need to snatch a rationalization from the jaws of logic at a moment’s notice in order to justify our ill-conceived actions.

Here are some remarks that reflect Insanity:

  • We’ve always done it that way. If only they would change, then everything would be fine.  They are the problem.  I give them the answers and tell them what to do and all they do is pushback.
  • Of course I nag my husband. He really dislikes it, but that is the only way I can get his attention.  Besides, I am not nagging; I am helping!
  • I hate my job and I am sick of being so dependent on it, but I will never get another job like this so I just put in the time and wait for it to be over.
  • Our business would be much more successful if it wasn’t for those damn customers.
  • If you can’t do it right, don’t do it all.

 Remember that your Common Sense is in your dominant hand.  Put your Insanity in the other hand.  You now have a choice to make. Will you practice Insanity or will you choose Common Sense?

Decide to choose Common Sense and do what you know.  Bring your Insanity (dark side) over to Common Sense.  When you think of doing what you already know, you will routinely make better choices.  You will be proactive, happy, self-respecting, and will operate from strength.  You already know Common Sense; it is simply now a conscious decision to choose to embrace the obvious and practice it.

Consider the following as foundations of Common Sense:

  1. Spend less than you make.
  2. Save money.
  3. Eat right and exercise regularly.
  4. Show respect, appreciation, and good manners.
  5. Take responsibility for your own behavior.
  6. Do the maintenance on your health, the welfare of your children, your parents, and your friends.
  7. Improve your character, contribute to society and practice forgiveness.
  8. Replace being a victim with adult behavior. Replace dependency with independence, get educated, learn lessons, and be more proactive.
  9. Work smart, pay the freight, and go the extra mile.
  10. Replace black/white thinking with multiple options.
  11. Adopt the Success Formula:
    1. Show up on time
    2. Be nice to people
    3. Do what you say you will do
    4. Deliver more than you promise
    5. Do it with energy and passion


Think about how you live your life.  The magic, the answers, the solutions, the prescriptions, and the deliverables are all in the Obvious.  It is all right in front of your face and the paradox is that the obvious is obvious to everyone but you.

You are too close to it, your emotions are involved, and your emotions create filters and amplifiers which often prevent you from seeing what is right in front of your face.

Embrace the Obvious.  Recognize and embrace what is right in front of your face.  Common Sense is what you know.  It is sensible, prudent, obvious, logical, practical, empirical, and reflecting sound judgement.  “Anyone would know that!”

The key is to connect What You Do (your behavior) with What You Know (Common Sense).  

Remember, Common Sense is very uncommon!

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