Do What You Know!

In my many years in this profession, I am continually amazed, amused, and ultimately bewildered with how often people fail to practice Common Sense.                                               

Most all of us know what Common Sense is. It is obvious, pragmatic, practical, logical, prudent, and reflecting sound judgement. It is often right in front of our face! It’s so OBVIOUS, WE KNOW WHAT IT IS.

Though we know what Common Sense is, too many of us fail to actually apply and practice Common Sense.  We drop the ball when it comes to DOING WHAT WE KNOW.

Something happens when we snatch a rationalization from the jaws of logic.  We stall and lie to ourselves that we will get around to doing it real soon.

Instead, we continually practice insanity. We keep doing the same thing again and again with the illusion that if we keep doing that same thing we will encounter a different result.  INSANITY!!!

Here are some widespread examples of INSANITY:

  • Some of us are continually medicating with food (you know, treating our emotional conflicts and unhappiness with food). We are overweight and suffer from hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, digestion problems and have difficulty sleeping.  Our weight makes us feel inadequate, defective, depressed, defensive, and unloved.  Others of us are addicted to smoking, alcohol or drugs.  And we wonder why we feel so bad.
  • We are having difficulty living within our means. We spend more than we have and accumulate too many bills.  We are unwilling to quit spending. We have enormous credit card debt, complain about living paycheck to paycheck, are upside down financially, without any savings, investments, financial literacy, or hope to get ahead.
  • We continually feel weak, worried, and dependent on others. We then become angry at the very people or organizations on which we are dependent. It becomes easy to blame our condition on others and we carry grudges and criticism for those who wrecked our lives. We become malcontents and think in terms of “What have you done for me lately?” So, we blame others instead of looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for ourselves, our behavior, and our lives.  We are unable and unwilling to recover and forgive.  We remain unhappy and in perpetual emotional prison. 

If any of this sounds familiar, then you might want to refresh your thinking about how to actually practice Common Sense and DO WHAT YOU KNOW! The good news is that you already know what Common Sense is! 

Now it is all about your making a commitment to DOING IT!

Below, I have outlined a few foundations of Common Sense. Many of them will resonate with you. Moreover, you might be pleased to know that I have removed all the complexity and theoretical chatter that so often gets in the way of simple understanding and commitments to improve.  Instead, I have outlined several Common Sense Foundations and some simple, basic, and understandable conclusions and strategies to DO WHAT YOU KNOW.



I am reminded of a remark made to me several years ago by my long-term friend and accountant. He asked me, “Dr. Perry, after so many years as a CPA and managing partner of my firm, would you like to know what I have learned about how to be successful in life with managing money?”

I replied, “Of course!”

He raised his arm at shoulder height, pointed to that level, and said, “When you are working and making money, you make this much. Right?”

Fascinated, I said, “Right.”

He then lowered his arm about six inches and said, “You then spend this much,” pointing to the lower height of his hand.

Anticipating the next remark, I asked, “Ok, and then?

He looked intense, then carefully responded and said, “Now this is where it gets complicated and complex.”

I leaned in as he said, “That’s it!

So, though I laughed out loud at the simplicity of his words, I have remembered that conversation all these years later; the remarkable thing is, THIS IS SO TRUE!

What do you do? DECIDE NOW TO CHANGE YOUR HABITS!  LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS AND SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE!  When you do, over time, you will accumulate a cushion of money and you will sleep much better as you get older. It’s Common Sense!


When I was in 9th grade, my father taught me how to save money.  While everything he said was logical and obvious, I ignored taking his advice for years, finally beginning to practice his suggestions when I was 30.  I am so glad I did, because over the last several decades, I have really enjoyed the results. Saving money is easy to understand and so obviously effective.

All you have to do is WHAT YOU KNOW.  GET STARTED!  Click here for my article on “Saving Money: The 10% Factor”


Some of you make a huge effort to manage your health. You gather a lot of information about healthy eating on TV, online, magazines, the news, video, or on the radio. There are constantly programs on food quality, healthy lifestyles, exercise routines, diet, etc.

Others of you may notice that you are hostage to your emotions entirely too frequently.  When you feel depressed, weak, anxious, stupid, ineffective, fat, undisciplined, lazy, or a failure, you may medicate with food. You consume more sugar, salt, fat, and processed foods.  You are looking for comfort from your emotional condition and then after a short while may actually feel worse. If you are overweight, unable to fit in your clothes, and feel unattractive, those conditions also impact you emotionally, which can seriously contaminate healthy lifestyles.

Furthermore, there are over 4 decades of professional research and literature that states that the overwhelming most effective treatment for depression is regular exercise!  It is difficult to feel bad when you have worked up a sweat!

Eating right and regularly exercising may aid in producing any or all of the following:

  • Weight control
  • Better circulation
  • Improved digestion and gut function
  • Better flexibility
  • Better sleep
  • Stronger constitution and regularity
  • Higher resistance to diseases
  • Longer life span
  • Faster ability to recover from setbacks
  • Higher performance levels
  • Closer and more functional relationships
  • Improved cardio-vascular function
  • Stronger self-concept

While all of this might appear to be Common Sense, it is!   

So, once again, DO WHAT YOU KNOW!

For further information on losing weight, see my article “Losing Weight – Learning to Overcome Pessimism”

In addition, to get you going with regular exercise, see my article “Need to Exercise?  Brush Your Teeth.”


  • When people come into the room, especially adults and seniors, stand up. Give up your seat to the elderly, the infirmed, and to pregnant women.
  • Address people by name, pronounce the names correctly, and remember their names.                                        
  • Introduce yourself; look them in the eye.
  • Shake hands, show respect, and show your grace.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Show table manners. If you are unaware of what those manners are, look them up or ask someone for guidance.
  • Dress well, clean, pressed, polished, groomed and stand tall.
  • Send handwritten thank you notes and condolence notes in the mail.
  • Make complete sentences, and remove chronic use of the word “Like.”
  • Avoid cursing, vulgar language, and low class humor.
  • Practice having a good command of the language.
  • Check in with people to show you care about them.
  • Make your focus about them, rather than you. You become more interesting when you are interested.
  • Be kind, respectful, gracious, and appreciative.
  • What you radiate, you attract. People will treat you how you teach them to treat you.


Remember, when you are an adult, YOU are responsible for the lion’s share of your life’s quality and value.  If life is going well, you probably did that.  If life for you stinks, you largely did that too.  If life is a new level of underwhelming and beige, you mostly did that as well.

Replace being a victim with adult behavior. Replace dependency with independence.  Get educated, learn lessons, and be more proactive.

This is self-explanatory and full of COMMON SENSE! 


Rather than blame others for your misfortune, look in the mirror.  Take responsibility for the good stuff and the bad stuff.  Life is about learning lessons, and lessons will be repeated until they are learned.


A very wise man once told me that he was quite different from most people.  When I asked him why, he looked at me intensely and said in a matter of fact tone, “Because unlike most people, I pay the freight!”

I have always remembered that conversation and have applied that principle many times throughout my life both personally and professionally.  I have always admired and respected people who are proactive and automatically pay the freight.

Conversely, I have also been routinely unimpressed and disgusted with those who think paying the freight is someone else’s job.

In life, have you ever noticed that there are people who make things happen, people who watch what happened, and people who wonder what happened?  The population of people who make things happen is entirely too small. That might be you.

You may be a person who often waits; you are more reactive. My experience is that people who are reactive on a chronic basis are generally depressed and unhappy. Why? Because they are always waiting for something to happen. Therefore, they are hostage to the next move.

Then there are those people who wonder what happened.  They are the ones who collect parking tickets, place them in the glove box of the car, and then wonder why there is a warrant for their arrest.  They have taken their hand off the tiller and now wonder how they ended up in this place.

So, make the first move; ask the person to dance, pick up the phone, get the results you are looking for. When you take the initiative, you are more in control.  When that happens, you are a happier camper. 


For more information on this topic, see my article “Take Action.”


Remember, as an adult, you have many responsibilities to assume.

Here are some responsibilities reflecting a person of character:

  • Taking charge of your health, your maintenance of it, and your education about it.
  • Meeting and exceeding expectations of the maintenance of your children’s welfare. You look after their safety, education, and character development. You instill principles and standards of conduct and quality. You hold them accountable. You help them and allow them to learn lessons along the way (sometimes learning lessons the hard way).
  • Looking after your parents. They looked after you and may have done a great job or less so. Regardless, you have a responsibility to look after them as they age. They can be difficult, just like you were when you were young. Love what you can love and let the rest go.
  • Accept your extended family. Rather than shopping for those people, you got what you got. Celebrate what you can and forgive what seems difficult. Be the role model. Keep your self-respect high while you love what you can love. Keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
  • Contribute to society. If you are fortunate enough to live in the United States, then you have some rent to pay for your time here. Your contribution to society can take many forms: time, money, caring, volunteering, educating, et al.  From this initiative comes meaning and confirmation of what the business of living is all about.

When it comes down to it, everything is about your character… your standards, your conduct, and your basic governing values.

Every morning you wake up you. Wherever you go, there you are, so there you go. Try as you might, the only person who will ALWAYS show up is you!  It is insane to treat that person you see in the mirror with disrespect.

It is imperative that you continually reduce the gap between what you profess and what you do.



That is Common Sense, and it is time for you to DO WHAT YOU KNOW!

For further information on Strength of Character, see my article “It’s Your Life!  It’s Always About Your Character!”


As you think about a conflict that you’ve been dealing with in one respect or another, you’ll notice that every time you encounter that conflict you start to polarize.  What that means is that you’ll interpret anything that creates stress from a position of two options.  

You’ll think about:

  • right vs. wrong
  • good vs. bad
  • success vs. failure
  • win vs. lose
  • right vs. wrong
  • smart vs. stupid
  • all vs. nothing

When you start polarizing you are only thinking in two options and you start obsessing about the loss, the nothing, the stupid or the failure. The result is ongoing conflict that is often consumed in a contest of who is right.

So, what do you do?

Make sure that in any situation around which there is conflict, that there are a minimum of three options.  You’ll be struck to see that when you offer three or more options, most any conflict now seems to be manageable.  

So instead of polarizing, make sure there are multiple options… a minimum of three.


A. Show up on time.
B. Be nice to people.
C. Do what you say you will do.
D. Deliver more than you promise.
E. Do it with energy and passion.





The key is for you to connect:

  1. What You Do (your behavior)… with
  2. What You Know (Common Sense).

And, remember, IT’S COMMON SENSE… and Common Sense is very Uncommon!

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