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Common (?) Sense

Common (?) Sense

By Greg Kozera–

I was on a Zoom call this week with an executive of a company we would like to have in our Region. I asked him, “What keeps you awake at night?” His response, “The challenge of finding people with common sense.” surprised me. Later I was talking to a friend whose company does solar power installations. His big challenge was, “People don’t understand solar panels don’t work at night.” That simple fact was common sense to both of us. It is called “solar power” and not “dark power”. We both understand solar power requires a dependable back up power source like natural gas or coal. Batteries haven’t developed to be able to store large amounts of power.

Common Sense is defined as the ability to reach intelligent conclusions. It suggests an average degree of judgement and reasoning without special knowledge. Common sense on the job would be taking book knowledge and applying it to a real situation. Some examples of common sense would be; not wearing sunglasses at night or wearing a coat on a cold day in winter or washing hands after using the bathroom.

Doing a task the same way and expecting a different result shows a lack of common sense. Being in a crowd particularly of strangers without a mask during this pandemic is a good way to catch the virus and shows a lack of common sense. There are plenty of examples on the internet showing a lack of common sense. Stories of people committing a crime and posting a video of the act on Facebook are common. That shows a lack of common sense.

There are people, some in elected office, who believe we don’t need fossil fuels. They have convinced others this is a good idea. They can’t explain how to manufacture an M-95 mask using a windmill. They are part of the “Don’t understand solar panels don’t work at night” crowd. These folks don’t understand fossil fuels are required to make windmills and solar panels. They also have no problem using cars, planes, cell phones and other fossil fuel products. Their actions show a lack of knowledge and a lack of common sense.

Common sense is our ability to think and reason for ourselves. It is not blindly following the crowd or believing everything we read on the internet. For example, we don’t need government to regulate the wearing of masks during this pandemic. We do need government to tell us the truth and give us guidance. With a little common sense and respect for others, we can figure out the rest. An individual running outside by themselves doesn’t need a mask. Wearing one could be dangerous. Someone showing up at my church on Sunday without a mask shows disrespect for our congregation especially for our elderly who would be at risk if they caught the virus. Wearing a mask in that circumstance, even if the person thought they were well, shows common sense and doing the right thing for others.

As a District Manager, I inherited a District with a horrible safety record. Our employees wouldn’t wear safety equipment. We had rules with punishments up to termination if we caught someone not wearing PPE. At night, on a well-site in southern West Virginia the odds of getting caught were low. As the manager, I realized I had to change. We changed the focus from rules to employee and family well- being. Our safety record became one of the best in the company. Most important our employees went home in one piece every night to their families. We went from rules to common sense.

How can we make sure we use common sense? We need to think before we act or speak. We need to consider the consequences and possible results of our actions. We can’t just blindly follow or believe everything we hear or read. We need to educate ourselves. Sometimes we may need to let go of long held beliefs that are wrong or not true.

We are working with a foreign company interested in Shale Crescent USA. The CEO is a great guy. He is sharp, creative and an environmentalist. I learned his story. He wanted to clean up the beaches in his country and keep plastic out of the ocean. He felt the way to do this was to recycle plastic and reduce the use of plastic, reducing waste.

As he gained experience, he learned how important plastic is for people’s healthcare, for sanitary well-preserved food and for thousands of other important products like cell phones. He realized our planet will require more not less plastic. In Maryland, where my kids live, walking into a grocery store with a reusable bag that could contain Covid-19 will get you thrown out. They use disposable plastic bags.

The CEO changed his thinking of plastic as a waste to be disposed of to a valuable feedstock. His process now turns plastic waste into useful building products. It can help to create a circular economy. He is using his common sense to develop a solution to the plastic waste problem that allows people to enjoy the benefits of plastic, creates useful products, jobs and can clean up the environment globally.

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t common. We have all been guilty of poor judgement or making a bad decision especially when we are growing up. The difference is, if we have common sense we can learn from our mistakes and failures. We can think for ourselves before we act. We can educate ourselves. We can think of others first. We can be leaders instead of blind followers.

We have an incredible nation. Freedom isn’t free. We need to develop and use common sense to keep it free. Happy Independence Day!

© 2020 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.