Many of us have used the phrase “they have plenty of book sense but they have no common sense.” We are describing someone that has the technical answers to everything but hasn’t figured out how to apply their knowledge to everyday life. Why are discernment and common sense so important? What is their value?

There are a few Proverbs that speak directly to common sense and discernment and the value that we gain from each. “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.” ‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭3:21-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬)


Today we will look at ways to improve discernment and common sense and in the next blog we will look at their benefits. Discernment is the ability to see things others are unable to see, and to be able to apply this insight for better decisions. Discernment and common sense are things we can learn and practice. There are a few ways that we can improve our discernment.


Look at our past

One way is to look at our past successes and failures and determine what went on in our decision making process. We have all made really good decisions and really bad decisions.  Often the process leading up to each of those decisions will tell us why it was good or bad.  Did you say “yes” when you should have said “no?”  What were the reasons you said yes?  Did you feel like you could not turn the opportunity down?  Did you feel like you would not get another opportunity?  How were you wrong?  Reflecting on these moments from your past will help you have better discernment moving forward.  

Look at other people

Another way is to examine how other people think. What processes do they have that allow them to consistently make good decisions. Who do you admire, and why do you admire them?  Warren Buffett tells people to write down five people that they really admire and the five people that they don’t.  Then to write down why they admire some and not others.  This simple exercise will help you figure out why you admire some people, and how you can emulate them.

Listen to yourself

Once you have done these things then listen to that inner voice, or gut instinct.  We have all made decisions that go against our inner voice.  Often we get into trouble because we are too busy or too determined to make a certain choice that we don’t pay attention to that voice.  

Do all three

None of these three principles is really independent.  When you spend time reflecting on past decisions and looking at the decision making habits of people you admire your inner voice naturally gets more and more attuned.  The end result is that you end up making better and better decisions.


When your common sense and discernment are operating properly then your instincts will be more accurate and that “gut feeling” will be on point more often than not.  Join me next week so that we can talk about the benefits of these principles.


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