Common sense in tough times

My mother taught me common sense as a child growing up in our tiny village in a remote part of Pakistan. She had no formal education of any kind and taught me common sense in subtle but deeply meaningful ways. They are engraved in my heart and soul. For example, when she made roti (round flat bread) three times a day or gave me a glass of milk, she would make sure that I did not waste any part of it. If I did waste any part of it, she would get really upset with me.

My parents taught me simple commonsense values in my early years that have stayed with me throughout my life. They taught me to protect what I had and not to waste any energy or resources that God has given to each of us. I have used the same simple principles throughout my life. For example, on Monday, April 2020, crude oil price crashed at a negative $37.63 a barrel, [Oil prices dropped below zero for the first time in history]. I have seen oil prices drop multiple times over the past 40 years on this rollercoaster ride, but I have never seen something like this happen. Therefore, I had to make quick commonsense decisions because of this historic collapse in oil prices.

When I first heard about the spat between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil supplies and prices, I had decided that I could operate some of my oilfields at $15 a barrel. But now, I had to make more difficult, sudden decisions and I immediately shut down all my wells and oilfields. The only thing I could do in my power was to control costs.

How did I make those quick decisions? I used simple, good common sense. I could no longer rely on bar graphs, predictive analytics, business news or any other source. I had to make a proactive and quick decision with the wisdom I learned from my mother.

In making decisions during any crisis, a leader should use common sense, be hands on and make quick calculated decisions. Common sense is a simple term that we use in our daily life but applying it timely is a very complex task to do. We all need to be fully aware of it, be conscious of it and apply it at the right time, by asking the right questions and choosing the right path. This will make our daily life more successful.  

An example of applying common sense is like this: if you own a donut shop and your chocolate fudge donut is selling ten times faster than sugar layered donuts, why are you still producing the sugary donuts? That’s a good common sense question. A single sugared donut that is not selling fast is eating up your profits and little things add up, especially in the current economic environment.

I am always thinking into the future whenever I make deals. For example, I purchased real estate and mineral leasehold lands in Texas and other states. Fracking was in its infancy when I started making these purchases, but I knew this investment would pay off in the future. It surely did as fracking matured and I continued to own the properties.  This is a good use of common sense. 

I also used common sense when I purchased real estate holdings to hedge against the volatility of my oil business. These were quite simple commonsense decisions that significantly increased the values of the properties.

Common sense comes out of thinking ahead, having the foresight to dream, imagine what could be, and so on. It is quite important to use common sense and be a hands-on manager of daily issues that are eroding your profits.

In recent days, our real estate business has taken a hit like most businesses. We are working with tenants and considering their situations. However, tenants should understand that landlords also have their own ongoing obligations. Such a cyclical process impacts everyone and sometimes it is like a hamster circling around in a wheel.

In hard times like we are all facing currently, it is best to renegotiate existing agreements, control all your costs and reduce waste as these are simple common sense tasks to do.

I respect highly educated people, but I do not think you can learn common sense from any academic institution. God has gifted all of us with a powerful mind filled with the common sense, unfortunately, few of us use it, but most do not. Common sense is instinctive, though complex, but I believe it is the most valuable possession a human being has.

I would like to invite your experiences using common sense in making decisions!

Find out more about me in my best -selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.

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