Focus On Your Strengths

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Focus On Your Strengths dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorParents have a tendency to look at a report card and immediately concentrate on the lowest grade. Johnny came home with 4 A’s and 1 C. The talk is usually something like this: “Good job overall. What can you do to pull up that C?” Educators do the same thing. We tend to focus on what is wrong vs. what is right.

I am suggesting we change the focus. Yes, I agree that effort needs to be put in to all the courses taken, but there can be extenuating circumstances that skew the figures. For instance, I was never gifted in math and science. I did OK with those subjects because I worked extra hard to learn it, but I never really liked the subjects. What I excelled in was English, History, and Business. Those classes were like a duck taking to water for me. I loved them and poured myself into them…and my grades reflected it. I have used those natural gifts on a daily basis.

Everyone is wired differently. We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different experiences, and different families. The problem comes when we try to pool all kids into the mix and teach them a subject without considering how they are wired. I am not talking about special needs kids. They have to be given special consideration. I get that. I am talking about the average student going to school in the USA.

Some people learn primarily by seeing, some by hearing, and some by doing. Of course we all have a bit of each of these in how we learn, but we probably rely on one over the other. I am one of those people that learns best when I actually do it myself. You can tell me all day about it, or I can read everything there is about it, but until I actually DO it, it does not really sink in. Once I have done it, I get it.

One of the best things we can ever do for a child whether we are a parent or a teacher is to help them discover their gifts, then encourage them to pursue it with all of their hearts. The world is filled with people who have settled for a paycheck instead of pursuing their gifts…and they are miserable for it.

Focus on what someone does well and help them take THAT to the next level. You will be doing them a great service in identifying and confirming what they may already know in their heart…and you will save yourself and them a lot of stress from all of the guilt that would otherwise be inflicted. Focus on strengths and everyone wins. Teach them how they NEED to learn, and they WILL learn.


Dan Skognes

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Motives Still Matter

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Motives Matter dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAsk any lawyer or judge if motives matter and I believe you will get a resounding YES. Motive is why we do what we do. It is what drives our decisions and our behaviors. It is like the underlying current that takes us down the path…right or wrong.

Why does it matter what your motives are? Ask yourself this:

  • If someone told you they loved you just to get intimate with you, would it matter?
  • If someone lied to you to get a job, would it matter?
  • If someone did something for you just to get something THEY wanted, would it matter?

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. It WOULD matter. We want people to be honest with us about who they are and what they are doing, don’t we? Well, it starts with me. I have to work on me, and you have to work on you, because (as we have all found out) we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves, and sometimes even that that takes the hand of God to get our attention.

Our motives matter because it reveals our character. Why you do what you do tells people who you REALLY are, despite your actions and your words. Like it or not, motives seem to have a way of coming out eventually.

Ideal motives have these in common:

  • They are unselfish.
  • They are giving.
  • They are kind.
  • They are honest.
  • They are pure.
  • They are loving.
  • They are patient.
  • They are forgiving.

Next time you find yourself thinking about doing something for the wrong reason take a hard look in the mirror. Think twice before you take action. Is it worth the cost when you are found out? If you think before you act, you will save yourself a lot of grief and embarrassment. It might even save your marriage or your career.

Having the right heart and attitude will take you places where you are celebrated, not just tolerated. It will open doors that otherwise would be forever closed to you. Motives do matter as trust will rise and fall on them. Knowing your why is only half the story. Defining and refining it is what makes our why vital to our existence and the legacy we leave. You will never find your way if you don’t find your why.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational

Redeployed dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorRecently I was listening to the testimony of war veteran Brian Fleming. He spoke of how he had served in Afghanistan for America and was nearly killed twice. He received the Purple Heart for the second explosion which nearly took his life. He had second and third degree burns over his body when a suicide bomber exploded himself next to his Humvee. Despite the armor reinforcement and bullet proof glass, the explosion was so intense it destroyed his vehicle.

Remarkably, he survived the ordeal. To look at him today, you would never know he suffered anything…but suffering is something he came to understand at the deepest level. When he got his first bath at the hospital, his skin was so charred that they had to filet his skin to remove the debris. He literally was praying that he would die…yet he endured.  He not only survived, he thrived.

He recently co-wrote a book called Redeployed with another combat veteran named Chad Robichaux. It is subtitled: How Combat Veterans Can Fight the Battle Within and Win the War at Home. The proceeds for the book go to give free copies to Vets. It is tragic when someone goes to war and then returns home and loses their life. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates twenty-two suicides occur daily amongst combat veterans. That has to stop.

Brian said that suffering ceases when you understand the meaning. He came to realize that his pain was not necessarily for HIM. It was for him to share and encourage others who were going through post-traumatic stress. His test has become his testimony, and it is powerful.

One bit of advice he gave was so solid: Quit asking “Why?” when something bad happens. There are no answers to “Why?” It is the wrong question. Ask “What?”

  • What am I to learn from this?
  • What am I to do now?
  • What can I do to help others that are going through this?

Those are healthy questions to move through the pain. I recommend you get a copy of his book for yourself or for someone you know who is struggling with overcoming trauma. You can purchase a copy on Amazon. He is a gifted speaker as well.  If you wish to have him speak at your company or organization, please go to to check his availability.

P.S. Thanks to all of the military personnel who serve to protect our freedom. You are in my prayers. I am sincerely grateful for the sacrifices you make for our country on a daily basis. God bless each of you.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Dysfunctional dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThere is an old joke that says: My family puts the FUN in dysFUNctional. Perhaps you can relate to that. Every family seems to have at least one dysfunctional person. If you don’t know who it is in your family, look in the mirror.  LOL.

I was doing lunchroom duty this week and two second grade kids were arguing. The little girl was visibly upset and punching a little boy.  I went over to them to see what was going on. She said, “He called me weird!”  I laughed and said, “Hey, that is OK. I am weird…and I like it!” She immediately changed from being defensive to smiling and realizing that it was OK to be a little weird.

We live in a world of conformity. The non-conformists are made to feel weird and there is an incredible pressure to get in line and go with the crowd. As a result, kids who are different from the rest either withdraw to themselves or they compromise who they are for the sake of fitting in.

I have the type of personality that I want to please people. I want to be liked and I want to fit in. As I got older, I realized that I needed to be myself and quit trying to be part of the in-crowd. There is no peace or fulfillment in being anyone other than who God created us to be. The truth is, there will always be people that don’t like you or accept you…and there does not even have to be a good reason why they don’t like you. So, why are we trying to please everyone?

When I am saying it is OK to be weird, please don’t twist that to mean anything evil or immoral. I just mean different. It is OK to be yourself. Celebrate who you are and accept the fact that not everyone is going to like you or be like you. We are all unique when it comes right down to it. We all have our quirks.

Be kind especially to those that are different. I was at a funeral recently and the preacher quoted Timothy Keller. He said, “The deepest need we all have is to be fully known and truly loved.” That is a deep thought. That is how God loves us. He knows us completely and still loves us…despite our faults and failures. Let’s do our best to love people the way God does. It would make a better world for everyone, wouldn’t it?


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Confrontation dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

There is an incredible book and movie called Lord of the Flies. It is the classic good vs. evil story. The hero, a young lad named Ralph stood up to the bullies and it nearly cost him his life. In a very powerful scene at the end of the movie, Ralph was being hunted by his classmates! What saved him was a rescue crew on the beach of the remote island they had been stranded on.

Can you imagine what Ralph was thinking when he saw the crew? The flood of emotion had to be overwhelming. He was saved, and the predator boys were going to find out that their evil deeds would indeed be punished. Good triumphed over evil.

Fast forward to the news this week. There was a Good Samaritan who tried to intervene when a crazed husband shot his wife at work. The wife was wounded in the ankle and will survive, but the Good Samaritan was shot to death as he tried to help her! The killer turned himself into authorities and is awaiting sentencing. Good will eventually triumph over evil once again…but look at the cost.

Both the movie and the example I gave you are bullying taken to the extreme. Bullies left unchecked will continue to bully people until something really bad happens to someone. Sadly, this happens on a daily basis in homes, businesses, and schools around the world. Bullying has become epidemic. Countless people have taken their own lives because of social media attacks and bullying at home, school, or work.

What is the answer? It is not an easy one, but I believe it has to start early in life. Kids have to be taught that bullying won’t be tolerated. The line has to be clear.  Kids have to know if they cross the line there will be severe consequences.

If you are a teacher, a manager, or a parent, please do your part to raise children who understand right from wrong.  Kids need to understand that kindness and love will trump bullying and hatred. Better they learn that as a child than to find themselves behind bars or in a cemetery as a result of their poor choices. The consequences for bullying are never good. Let’s do our part and raise kids to love instead of hate.


Dan Skognes

Follow Me

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Spiritual

Follow Me dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorSpringtime is the season for terrible storms in Texas. It is a roofer’s dream and a homeowner’s nightmare. We recently had a severe thunderstorm watch and they were predicting SOFTBALL size hail!

Our garage only has room for one car…so we had to do something to prepare for the coming storm. We decided to take my wife’s van to the local hospital and park it in their garage. Apparently half of Grapevine does the same thing as it was already getting crowded when we got there.

We were getting ready to leave and my wife said, “I’ll just follow you.” We start down the road towards the hospital and I look and see that my wife is not in the turn lane…she is going straight through the light!  She did not have a cell phone and I had no way of contacting her to see what she was doing.

I got to the hospital and there she was…coming from a different direction. After we got her parked in the garage, I asked her why she didn’t follow me and she said, “I did not like the direction you were going.”  LOL. It all worked out, but it could have been a real pickle to deal with. I told her, “If you tell me you are going to follow me…then follow me.” She said, “Well, I won’t tell you that again.”  LOL. Um-hmmm.

When we went back to pick up her car the next day, I dropped her off and she asked me, “How do I get out of here?”  I told her, “You are on your own!”  LOL. Of course, I got a good laugh as I was driving DOWN the ramp to get out and I see her driving UP the ramp! I pointed to go MY direction and I waited for her to catch up.

All kidding aside, don’t we do this with God? Don’t we say, “I’ll follow You,” and then we do our own thing because we don’t like the direction He is taking us? We need to follow God. He never makes mistakes. He always knows what to do and where to go. If you are not going to follow Him, don’t tell Him you are going to. He does not take vows lightly. Trust Him. Follow Him…and you will get to the destination you need to be.

P.S. The terrible hail that was predicted never came. God spared us.


Dan Skognes

What Leaders Could Learn From Kids

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

What Leaders Could Learn From Kids dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI am constantly amazed at the wisdom that comes from the mouths of kids. Here are just a few things I have heard them say and seen them do that would be great examples for leaders to incorporate in their companies:

  • I had some little 2nd grade girls ask me one day, “Are you happy?”  I laughed and said, “Yes, I am!” To which they replied, “Then keep doing what you’re doing!” Then they said, “Do you know what we would have said if you said no?” I shook my head. “We would have said, Then change what you’re doing!” Wow. How deep is that???
  • Kids have an enthusiasm for learning. Many adults and leaders in particular have lost their love for learning. We need to be life-long students. There is ALWAYS something we can learn. Nobody knows it all, right? With the technology we have, there is always something we can improve upon because technology is constantly evolving…and if you snooze you lose. As a side note, if you need help with an IPad, ask a kid. I remember telling my granddaughter a few years ago how impressed I was with her knowledge of the IPad. She put her hands on her hips and said, “Well, I AM 5 years old!”  LOL.
  • Kids find things they love to do and go after it with reckless abandon. Have you ever seen kids going to recess? All you have to do is tell them it is time for recess and open the doors. They find ways to have fun. Why don’t adults do that? Why have they lost the ability to find great joy in their work? Perhaps it because too many people are doing jobs they hate. They are working just for the money…and that brings no lasting satisfaction or joy. Everyone needs to identify the thing that lights them up when they do it. A way to figure this out is to ask yourself: What would I do if I could do anything I wanted, but I had to do it for free? Do that thing and the rewards will follow.
  • I have noticed when one kid is hurting or crying, their classmates gather around them to console them. Wouldn’t it be great if adults had that type of compassion? Some do…but many are so caught up in their own world that they don’t even see the hurting people around them. We need to pay attention to those around us that are hurting. Some people are good at masking their hurt, but you can always see it in their eyes if you look closely. Encourage them…tomorrow it may be you that needs consoling.

My hope is that we learn from the kids in our lives. They have a lot to teach us if we are willing to humble ourselves and learn from them.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Forgiveness dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorForgiving other people can be tough if not downright impossible it seems. Let’s be honest, some folks are hateful, mean, cruel, and abusive. How do you ever get to the point where the mention of their name does not send chills up your spine and make you want to go “Postal” on them?

Here are a few reasons why forgiveness is so hard to do:

  • What they did to you wounded you so deeply that it has never truly healed.
  • Perhaps they refuse to take any responsibility, much less apologize for what they did to you.
  • Maybe this has become a habit and they continue to hurt you over and over.
  • Vengeance seems to be a viable option.

Here is the downside to not forgiving other people who have wronged you:

  • If you never forgive them, you cannot get better. You get bitter. That poison will be carried with you and taint any relationship it touches. Is it worth ruining other relationships in your life because you can’t let it go and forgive them?
  • Realize that you cannot force someone to accept responsibility. Only the law can do that, and if they broke the law then they will be held accountable by the law.
  • If you have been in an abusive relationship and the apologies are empty air, realize what you are dealing with and get out of there. You still need to forgive them…for your sake, not theirs.
  • Vengeance is never a valid solution to an offence. Don’t take the law into your own hands or the one that offended you might very well get the last laugh as you are carted off in handcuffs or a body bag.

If you refuse to forgive someone, it does not mean you totally forget it (although I do believe that can happen). What it means is:

  • You refuse to give them control over your life anymore, so you forgive them.
  • You refuse to talk about them negatively to other people because once you have forgiven them, you can let it go and never bring it up again.
  • You have come to the point that not only have you declared that you forgive them…but you ask God to bless them! This is by far the most difficult thing to do, but you KNOW you have forgiven them if you can bless them. It does not matter if they ever admit anything. What matters is that you, once you have truly forgiven them, have moved back into the land of the living…free from the chains that have held you prisoner to the past.

I pray that you learn to forgive others. If you are a Christian, pay attention to Mark 11:26 which says: “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in Heaven forgive your transgressions.”  That is a pretty sobering thought. Even if you are not a Christian, you understand that what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. Learn to bestow grace on the ones that have offended you and you will see God doing incredible things in your life and theirs.


Dan Skognes

Don’t Burn Bridges

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Dont Burn Bridges dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorHere is a bit of practical advice if you are leaving a job or a relationship. Don’t burn bridges….build them. You never know when you are going to have to go back across that bridge, and if you left it burning in flames….good luck getting back across.

Why is it when people leave a difficult job or relationship, so many feel that it is their RIGHT to take vengeance and spew venom on anyone in shouting distance? What does that really accomplish? Who wins in that situation? Nobody. Everyone is damaged in the fallout…and any chance of you ever re-crossing the bridge in that job or relationship is pretty much gone.

After observing many people who have burned their bridges, here is some simple advice:

  • Don’t burn the bridge. I don’t care how bad you feel or how bad you were treated. Take the high road and treat them kindly and leave with some dignity intact (assuming that leaving is the only option). You be the adult and do the right thing regardless of how they act.
  • Remember the old adage that what goes around comes around. People reap what they sow…eventually. It is not your responsibility or obligation to make them pay for what they did. They will pay for what they did to you, just don’t wait for it to happen, and don’t gloat when it does.
  • Forgive people that wrong you. Forgiveness is for you…not for them. If you DON’T forgive people it will make you bitter….not better. Let it go…for your own sake. Don’t carry that bitterness into your next job or your next relationship.
  • If you have burned bridges in the past, for Pete’s sake…learn the lesson. If you keep doing what you are doing, how can you expect different results? I know people who have burned bridge after bridge…and then they are crying that nobody will help them. Hmmmmm….I wonder why? Stop burning the bridges.

Everybody messes up. We all have made mistakes and I am not trying to cast stones. I live in a glass house. My hope and prayer is that as you are reading this, it strikes a cord and helps you move forward and build, not burn bridges.


Dan Skognes



21 Little Things That Matter

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

21 Little Things That Matter dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer educator

  1. Be grateful.
  2. Say thank you.
  3. Say I’m sorry.
  4. Put the needs of others ahead of yourself.
  5. Be humble.
  6. Compliment others sincerely.
  7. Be willing to forgive others.
  8. Be willing to forgive yourself.
  9. Control your tongue.
  10. Keep yourself healthy spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  11. Quit worrying.
  12. Express your love in word and deed.
  13. Remember birthdays and anniversaries.
  14. Stay positive.
  15. Be teachable.
  16. Learn from your mistakes and your successes.
  17. Don’t assume you know everything.
  18. Value relationships over being right.
  19. Practice being kind daily.
  20. Be willing to change.
  21. Don’t compromise your morals.

It doesn’t cost anything to do the little things, but it can cost you everything if you don’t do them.


Dan Skognes