Give Latitude Instead of Attitude

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Give Latitude Instead of Attitude dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorDo you want to have less stress in your life?  Do you want to wake up saying, “Good morning, Lord!” instead of “Good Lord, its morning!?” Do you want to see the cup half full instead of the cup half empty? Well, if you are normal, the obvious answer is “Yes.”

So why do we settle for giving attitude instead of latitude when nothing good comes from giving attitude? There are several reasons I see that we revert to this unhealthy behavior:

  • Insecurity. We are not confident in ourselves so we over-compensate.
  • Fear. We are afraid of the outcome if we don’t assert ourselves.
  • Selfishness. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about others.
  • Bitterness. When we fail to forgive others that have wronged us, we only hurt ourselves.

When we give latitude to others, it says a lot about who we are:

  • We are people who have learned to control our emotions instead of letting them control us. That is called “growing up.”
  • It shows that we understand what love is all about. Love is patient, kind, understanding, and selfless.
  • Every time we show latitude it helps us grow, and others are blessed at the same time.
  • It means we will live longer, healthier, and happier lives as we detox ourselves of stress.

So, next time you are in traffic and someone cuts you off, what are you going to do? You can let it go and bless them, or you can flip them off and curse them; your choice. Someone said: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You are not going anywhere until you change it.”

Life is too short to live stressed and depressed. The good news is: all you have to do is flip the switch. You can go from attitude to latitude with a little practice and you will see good things happen as a result:

  • The sun will shine brighter.
  • The air will smell sweeter.
  • Food will taste better. Seriously, when you don’t have an upset stomach from all the stress you are carrying, food tastes great!
  • The future will be something to anticipate with joy instead of dread.
  • You will sleep better.
  • You will have healthier relationships.

Sometimes we feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train that is bearing down on us at full speed. Quit worrying; it does no good. Quit stressing; it can kill you. Quit griping about what you don’t have and thank God for what you DO have. Give others what you expect: the benefit of the doubt.

You get to choose how your life will be lived out. Give latitude. You will never regret the blessings that you and others receive.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Engagement dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coachThis is probably one of the most used and abused words in the training and education world.  It does not matter if you are talking about teachers, trainers, coaches, managers, or leaders….engagement (or lack thereof) is an issue.

Is there a simple way to get people engaged in their work, their classroom, or their families?  Well, what I have found is that the answer is both simple and complex.

You begin with the mind, but you have to capture the heart. You can teach someone facts and figures all day long and have it go in one hear and out the other. We have all experienced that.  So the real question is: How do you capture the heart?

Relationship is the best way to engage someone.  If you have relationship with someone, then they listen not just to the words, but to the meaning. They are open to the teaching because they trust you. They will listen because they feel heard and respected. They anticipate that they will gain something from the teaching.

But what do you do if there is no relationship?  How do you capture the heart of someone that wants nothing to do with you or what you have to say? It that even possible?  The answer is yes, but with some conditions. If you want to capture someone’s heart that you trying to teach, here are the rules for engagement:

  1. You still build a bridge for the relationship. You cannot force people to have relationship with you, but it is your responsibility to build a bridge for them to cross when they are ready, then you give them every reason to cross it by being trustworthy, non- judgmental, loving, kind, transparent, and patient. It may take some time, but many people will cross the bridge if they believe you are for real and not here today and gone tomorrow. If they believe that you truly care about them, that is half the battle.
  2. You have to learn to speak their language. Every person on this planet speaks their own dialect. It is unique to them, just like their fingerprints. It is based on their experience, their age, their intellect, their family, their culture, even where they live. You have to learn to speak the verbiage they understand. Have you ever been in a room and someone starts throwing out $10 words expecting that you know them, and you feel like a dummy because you feel clueless about what they just said? Don’t assume people know what you mean. Don’t use acronyms with people that don’t know your industry. Check for understanding. Look for clues in body language as to whether they get it or not. Ask them to rephrase in their own words what you just said if there is any doubt that they understand.
  3. You have to not just strive to build relationship and speak their language; you have to give them something of value. If there is no perceived value, you’ve lost them. Let them know what is in it for them and how this will help them. Relate it to real life.

I was teaching a class of third graders and this one kid was being a bully to someone else. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “He made me mad, so I hit him.  My mom told me not to take anything off of anyone.” How do you override advice from Mom?  Carefully!

I put on my referee hat and said, “Well, in this school and in this class it is NOT OK to hit anyone, so let me give you some advice to help you for the rest of your life. If you go around hitting people that upset you, what do you think can happen?”  The hands were flying up across the room. “You can get hurt,” one kid said. I responded, “Yes, and you could go to jail or even get killed! It is serious stuff to start taking the law into your own hands, so don’t do it. If you have a problem with another child, you come get me or another teacher to help you. In the words of the song from one of your favorite movies, let it go!” The kids laughed and started singing the chorus of the song.  It was pretty funny. The tension was gone and order was restored…at least for the moment.

So, if you want to engage your class, your team, your company, or your family, build the relationship bridge. Anticipate that at some point they WILL cross it. Learn to speak their language, and have something of value to give them verbally. The reward is worth the effort. If you want to teach them, you’ve got to reach them.


Dan Skognes

My Favorite Teacher

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Ann Christian dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was recently interviewing for a teaching job, and one of the questions was, “What teacher had the most impact on your life?”  That was an easy question for me: Ann Christian. Ms. Christian was my 10th grade English teacher back in 1967. She was awesome, and she changed my life without ever knowing it.

It was an act of God that brought me to her class to begin with. I was getting ready to go to High School and excited to be moving up with the friends I had made over the past few years. Then I got the news. I was not going to Woodrow Wilson with my friends.  Because of where we lived, I was on the fringe of the district and they decided I should go to another school in Dallas….Hillcrest High.

I was not a happy camper over that and tried to figure out how to go to Woodrow, but there was no getting around the system. I had to go to Hillcrest! Fate, it seemed was taking me down an unknown pathway.

That decision turned out to be a good thing for me. Hillcrest was predominantly Jewish at the time. There were also three black kids…and me…a white Protestant. There may have been other Protestants at the school, but I never met them. I decided to make the most of it since I really had no control of where I was going to go.

Ms. Christian had an incredible impact on me. Here are a few things I loved about her as my teacher:

  • She encouraged me to write, and that is something that I have done ever since I was in her class.
  • She saw things in people that they did not see themselves and was able to draw that out of them. I had no idea that I loved to write till she gave me the key to unlock that door and encouraged me to open it. I have that ability today to draw things out of people that they do not see in themselves, thanks to Ms. Christian.
  • I had the reputation as the teacher’s pet…but I was OK with that because I knew she really loved me….and I loved her. I would have done anything to make her proud of me. She had that ability to inspire people to greatness.
  • I have to admit I was initially drawn to her teaching because she was so beautiful. How can a 10th grade boy NOT love a great looking teacher that truly cares about him and everyone in her class? I realized as I got to know her that it was her internal beauty…her character…that really attracted me the most to her as a teacher. She was genuine…the “Real Deal” as we say here in Texas.
  • She could correct you without crushing you.  I remember one day I was laughing and talking to my neighbor in class and she called my name. I looked up at her with an “Uh-Oh” face, and she smiled, shook her head, and said, “I just can’t get mad at you!” We laughed, and I shut up and got back on task. She made her point, but she spoke it in love.

I tried for years to find out what happened to her. I wanted to thank her for the impact she had had on my life. Unfortunately, I found out she died in 2007, and she had been living in the town I was born in: Waco.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I would have driven down to Waco had I known where she was.

Ms. Christian, you will always be special in my heart. I wish I could have told you how much you meant to me throughout my life. Thanks for inspiring me to think, to learn, and create.

If there was someone like Ms. Christian who really impacted your life for the good, please tell them while you can. You never know when it will be too late to let them know how much you cared for them…and it will be the reward they lived for…to know they left a legacy of learning and love.


Dan Skognes

Fifty Shades of Great

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Fifty Shades of Great dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach consultantDo you believe you have the ability to be great?  Are you born with that ability? Is it genes, luck, or acquired skills that cause some people to achieve great things?  Well, it is complicated, and as the title alluded to, there are various shades of greatness which we may or may never experience.

First of all, let’s agree on one thing as an assumption.  We are born with the ability to do great things. You will see why I make this assumption as you read on. This of course assumes you have mental capabilities that are at least normal. Physical disabilities do not necessarily preclude you from achieving greatness. The Special Olympics is a living tribute to those who have not let their disability define who they are or what they can do. So, assuming that we are born with the ability to do great things, why is it some do and some don’t?

Well, let’s agree on point number two. What you think is great is not necessarily what I think is great. We all have our opinions of what constitutes greatness. If you are a gifted athlete, it may be no big deal to consistently score 30 plus points in a game like Michael Jordan, but this is where it gets tricky. There are many many gifted athletes, and yet how many Michael Jordans are there? Not many rise to that caliber, but it does not mean that the other gifted athletes are not great…just not AS great.

I was coaching an executive that aspired to perfection in all he did. It is good to aspire to great things…but perfection?  I hated to burst his bubble, but none of us are perfect. We can aspire to continuously improve. That is a good thing. But there are many shades of great that we can learn to value in ourselves and in others.

When looking at great things or great people, consider this:

  • All great things were birthed from the desire to achieve. I was salesman of the year for a major medical company one year, and you know what they did to me the next year? They raised my quota again! I exceeded the quota the next year as well. The moral is, just because you feel you have made it, realize that there is always another level to reach.  We never “arrive” this side of Heaven.
  • Celebrate each victory that you have achieved. Whether it is top salesman, number one trainer, best coach, outstanding speaker, or whatever, take that victory and savor it. Just don’t settle in it. Some people have to relive the victories of yesteryear because they don’t continue the climb, so that is all they have left is memories. That is sad, don’t you think?
  • Great people are still people.  We all have flaws, weaknesses, and things we wish we could change. Great people seem to have the ability to capitalize on their abilities and strengths to the point that we don’t focus on the frailties. Everyone loves a winner (unless you were betting against them).
  • We have a tendency to underestimate the power of a positive attitude in attaining great things. There is a proverb that says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” That would be wise to remember if you aspire to achieve the extraordinary things in life. Change your attitude if you want to affect your altitude.
  • No great thing was ever accomplished in the comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone and face your fears head on. Otherwise, you will live in the land of regret.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Be honest. Do you see greatness?  Do you see a beautiful unique creation of God, or do you focus on that new wrinkle that just popped up out of nowhere, or that new gray hair? I believe that God, because He is great, and we are made in His image, has instilled greatness in us.  It is not for our glory. It is not for our bragging rights. That is where most of us get sidetracked. It is for His glory and His purpose. We are most alive (in my humble opinion) when we have totally submitted our will to His. In the process of dying to self, we can become that which God intended for us to be all along…His great great great great children.


Dan Skognes

Despicable Me

Posted in Relationships, Spiritual

Despicable Me dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach educator

I was at a church service recently where a lady was giving her testimony.  She was giving the example of the mistakes she had made in the past that had cost her dearly. We sat spellbound listening to how she had made terrible choices and the severe consequences that resulted because of her poor judgement. Then she asked if anyone else wanted to share. Crickets….LOL. Nobody was interested in airing their dirty laundry in public. We were willing to listen to more of her stories; we just did not want to share ours!

I thought about this after church and realized what had happened and why nobody wanted to speak up.  It was actually pretty simple to understand. People do not want to think of themselves as Despicable Me. I do believe that personal testimonies are powerful to help people know the grace of God, but they can be opening a wound that you don’t want to have to relive.

Here is what I learned about Despicable Me:

  • You will never have a healthy self-image until you learn to forgive yourself and forgive others. Forgiveness is the foundation on which you can rebuild relationship and restore your self-esteem.
  • Don’t be a person that is always dredging up the past and glorifying the mistakes that were made.  I am not saying this lady did that with her testimony, but I have known people who want everyone to relive the depth of their vile behavior that they used to live in, rather than glory in the grace of God and concentrate on what He has done with them since. Concentrate on the light, not the darkness.
  • People don’t need to know the dirty details of Despicable Me.  We could all write a book if we wanted to, I am sure. We all have skeletons in the closet, but if God has forgiven us, we don’t need to continually relive that memory. Let it go. Your testimony can be general when it comes to the past mistakes. Leave the details in the closet. God does not remember them once you have confessed them, so why should you?
  • It has been said that sin takes us further than we wanted to go. It makes you stay longer than you wanted to stay, and it cost you more than you wanted to pay. So count the cost. Think before you act.

Because I have made so many mistakes in life, I do have a great perspective on what NOT to do…but I wished I would have thought about the consequences of the actions and relive that moment. The problem is, we do not have a time machine.  All we can do at this point is learn from the mistakes….and don’t repeat them. I saw a sign the other day that said, “I don’t make the same mistake twice.  I make it five or six times just to be sure.”  LOL. Sadly, I can identify with that statement at various times in my life.

If you have that perspective of yourself as Despicable Me, please know that who you see in the mirror is not necessarily who you are. We are all God’s creation. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are adopted into His family. You are not an orphan. You are forgiven, and you are loved.

I am so thankful that God loves us, despite our despicable acts. His grace and mercy are sufficient.  God gives us the ability to go beyond our ability. He can help memories that haunt us to heal. We just have to let Him lead us, and trust Him every step of the way.


Dan Skognes

Open Sesame

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Open Sesame dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coach teacher educatorThose were the famous words used in the movie Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. When the magic words were uttered, the mouth of the cave opened and a vast treasure was revealed.

It is a bit of a play on words that is fairly obvious. People have been saying “Open Says Me” since time began.  It started with Adam and Eve when they decided to circumvent God’s will for their own will. When Satan tempted them to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they invoked Open Says Me. What a price mankind has paid for THAT decision!

People employ this self-will on relationships and jobs alike. If we are honest with ourselves, we have opened a few doors that we wish we had never opened. It became more of a Pandora’s Box than a hidden treasure when we got our way, and once it was opened we were desperately trying to close it! Unfortunately, it was too late and we ended up going into the damage control mode.

The frustration usually comes from the flawed thinking that if we don’t do something ourselves and do it now, it will never happen. Think back on the times you employed the “Open Says Me” to a job or relationship you should never have been in. Afterwards, you usually wind up asking that rhetorical question, “What was I thinking?” Well, the real answer to that is that you were NOT thinking or you would not have imposed your self-will.

Here are a few things I learned about invoking Open Says Me:

  • If you are forcing the door open in a relationship or a job, it probably is not a good thing and the consequences can be disastrous. Wait for the relationships and jobs that open supernaturally. God will open doors that no man can open and close doors that no man can close. Seek His will and wait for Him.
  • Instead of invoking Open Says Me, we should be asking God if the door ahead is of Him. If it is not, why would you want to open it? You will never experience peace or satisfaction that lasts, plus you may very well miss the ideal relationship or job that God has prepared for you.
  • Open Says Me will not just sidetrack you, it will derail you and affect all those around you. It only works in the movies and if your name is Ali Baba. It does not work in the real world.
  • Be careful what you wish for. You will not be getting the treasure you seek if you are self-seeking.

Waiting on God is not an easy thing to do if your biological clock is so loud that you can’t think, or if your need for a job is so great that you will sacrifice your common sense to get a pay check. Having relationships and a good job are needs most of us can identify with, but we have to put them in alignment with God’s will or they will be like the car that you can’t keep on the road because every time you take your hands off the wheel it will veer to the right or to the left and crash. Eventually you have to let go. Like the song says, “Jesus take the wheel!”

How do you balance your will with God’s will? Very simply, you align them. You seek His will first and foremost.  His will becomes YOUR will. My dad used to say, “We will do it this weekend, Lord willing.” He understood and was teaching me how to align my will to God’s will.  I thought he just said that because he was a preacher.  He was teaching me to humble myself and my needs and bring them into perfect alignment to God’s will.

Next time you are tempted to invoke Open Says Me on a relationship or a job, think twice and see if it truly aligns with God’s perfect will for you. His timing is perfect. Don’t second guess Him. Listen to Him, trust Him, and follow Him. If you want to know His will, just ask Him. His is there for you 24/7. My favorite verses in the Bible are Proverbs 3: 5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Lean NOT to your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your paths.” Lord, let my will be yours.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

PPTW dan skognes motivation blogger speaker coach trainer educatorWaiting on God can seem like an eternity.  You know what I mean.  You have been praying about something and there just is no clear answer.  Days, months, and sometimes years go by and still no answer. Is God on vacation or what? One thing I DO know about God. He is never on vacation.  He is always there with us and for us. Just because we don’t “feel” His presence does not mean He is absent.

I am going to give you a tool that I have learned to use while I am waiting on God to answer me:

  • P = Praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, praise Him at the noonday, praise Him at supper time. God inhabits the praises of His people. You want to be closer to God? You want to know Him?  You want to hear Him? Learn the power of praise.
  • P = Pray. Just like Praise, we need to pray without ceasing. And by the way, praying is supposed to be us communicating with God…just don’t forget to listen. It is should be a two way conversation. If you do all the talking, don’t expect to hear an answer.
  • T = Trust. This is where faith comes in. I know how hard it can be to trust Him when the person you love lets you down, when you get that word from the Doctor that it is serious, or when you find out you no longer have the job you thought you would have for the rest of your life. Trust God to see you through the storms. He never said we would not go through storms. In fact, He promised us that we WOULD go through them! However, He just assured us He would be with us through it all. Trust Him. He is faithful even when we are not.
  • W = Wait. Wait on God for His perfect timing. That does not mean sitting on your hands doing nothing. You keep planting. You keep building. You keep knocking. He will open the doors that no man can open, and close the doors that no man can close, but it has to be His timing. Remember that it is not all about you or me. He will answer when the time is right.

One additional thing to pray for is not that God give you opportunities. He WILL give you opportunities. Pray that you recognize them when they happen and you don’t miss it. Opportunities don’t go away, they just go to the next person who recognizes them and THEY get the blessing.

Don’t miss your blessing. Be ready. Stay focused. Don’t despair. God knows the storm you are in. Even if YOU created the storm, God is not surprised and He is still with you to help you and sustain you.

When you are in that period of waiting on God to come through, think about Him and think about others. Get your focus off of your circumstances and off of yourself. Quit worrying. Try PPTW and see if you don’t have a renewed sense of hope. That is really what we need, isn’t it? We just want to know that our hope is not in vain.

God has not forgotten us. Trust Him.  Press in to Him. Read His Word. Meditate on it so that you can renew your mind. Remind yourself of His promises. Today is a new day. Who knows, perhaps the door you have been seeking will open for you today. I pray it does for both of us. Till it does, I will PPTW.


Dan Skognes

Elevate Your Game

Posted in Business, Motivational

Elevate Your Game dan skognes motivation blogger trainer coach consultant educator

It is funny how everyone I know seems to have a plateau. Sounds like a lyric to a Country song, doesn’t it?  It is true, though.  We all seem to have a glass ceiling that we cannot get above in our skill sets.  We simply can’t do it on our own. Even Tiger Woods needs a coach. Why is that?

  • We are blind to our faults and limitations.  Every great athlete or business leader knows he needs a coach or mentor.  He needs someone to point out the things that he needs to do differently.  He needs someone to encourage him to stretch his thinking and his physical limitations beyond what he THINKS he can do. He simply needs someone to tell him the truth about himself…but to do it in a positive way.
  • We may have just become comfortable coasting. Great athletes and business leaders who are naturally talented may become lazy in their attitudes if not challenged.  A good coach or mentor will not allow that to persist. They will push them to excel.
  • Our pride may be a problem.  People that have plateaued could have a pride issue getting in the way.  It is a common problem among the highly talented people of this world, and understandably so.  They sometimes are still kids and making millions of dollars.  They have everyone bowing to them and telling them how great they are.  That is a recipe for disaster if not kept in check.  A good coach or mentor will be their reality check.  They will keep them out of jail, and possibly even save their life.  Long term, they will elevate them to a higher level of success.
  • When someone tells me that they know how to do something because they have been doing it for X amount of years…I know there is a problem with stubbornness.  They are not teachable or coachable.  They feel like they know it all and so the chances of them changing are pretty slim. However, the best thing this person could do would be to get a coach or mentor to help them break through that barrier of self-delusion. Nobody knows it all.  Nobody has all the answers.  It does not matter how long you have been doing it if you have been doing it wrong all along.  We all need a coach or a mentor. There are often better ways of doing things that we thought were the best way.
  • Sometimes people simply have reached their plateau because they have allowed themselves to lose focus.  Personal problems, health issues, financial issues, even just having fun…they can all cause someone to get off track.  They have lost their passion for excellence because they lost their focus.  Numerous reasons could be the culprit, but a good coach or mentor will help get them back on course and focus on attaining their goals.

So, are you ready to elevate your game?  Are you ready to get a coach or mentor to help you?  Here is to seeing you take your game or business to a whole new level.  Thank God for the coaches and mentors of this world.  Where would we be without them?


Dan Skognes

It Is What It Is

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

It Is What It Is dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach trainer educator

You have probably heard people say this from time to time, or perhaps you have said it yourself.  Think back on the circumstances.  Were any of them good? I would be willing to bet that it was said after someone had given up on changing something.

It became an irritant to me many years ago when I worked for a new manager in a major corporation and he used this as an excuse for not facilitating changes that were needed.  It drove everyone crazy to have a leader who was passive.  Who wants to follow a “Yes man?”

You might even have heard this said over recent crimes like the shooting in South Carolina or the illegal pool party in McKinney, TX. There is a lot of craziness in this world for which there is no explanation because evil has no logic, but I refuse to throw up my hands and say “It is what it is.” That statement is used to deflect responsibility, and all of us are ultimately responsible for what is going on in this country.  We each have a part to play.  We can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.

What can we do in the face of evil?

  • Don’t ignore it. Evil never retreats. If we don’t face it head on we will never have victory.
  • I realize that not everyone believes in spiritual things, but I do. I firmly believe that we are in the middle of a spiritual war. We either put on the full armor and do our part, or we succumb to “It is what it is.”
  • We have to quit blaming everyone or everything else.  Let’s quit blaming guns for Pete’s sake. I realize that one statement there will cause a furor over those who are looking to blame something. Just my opinion, but I don’t think a gunman is likely to open fire in a place where there is armed resistance. They tend to look for easy targets. Maybe it is a cultural thing, but here in Texas guns are not looked at like they have a conscience. They are neither good nor evil, just things that can be used or abused. Do you think that banning guns would stop a crazy person from killing? Think about the suicide bombers that have attacked America. If someone wants to kill, they will find a way.
  • The problem is deeper than we might want to admit. We have to know our neighbor, love our neighbor, and get to know who they are and what they do.  I live in a middle class neighborhood and I admit I don’t really KNOW my neighbors all that well.  We say “Hi and Bye,” but we don’t really know one another.  We have become a nation of isolationists. Am I wrong? Perhaps we need to really know who is living around us.
  • Don’t ignore threats that people make.  The kid who shot up the church in South Carolina had bought a gun and threatened to go shoot up a college.  His friends did NOTHING. All they said when they were interviewed was, “I guess he wasn’t kidding.”  Wow! Talk about deflecting responsibility.
  • Racism is a terrible thing and we need to do whatever we can to mend the broken relationships.  It won’t get better till we each do our part and learn to love one another, despite the color of our skin.

Let’s change what we say from “It is what it is” to “It is what we make it.” That keeps us engaged and part of the solution. I know this is not an easy solution, but I do think we can make a difference if we all do our part.


Dan Skognes

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

You Dont Know What You Dont Know dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach consultant

(Or You Don’t Know Diddley Squat)

The older I get the more I realize that I have a lot to learn. Just when you think you know all about something, you find out that there is another twist. Even when you think you know someone really well, they can surprise you.

Recently I was coaching an executive and we were talking about what was true. He said he was telling the truth and the other person in question was lying.  I asked, “Do you think he THINKS he was telling the truth?” He said, “Well, maybe.”  My point was, you have your truth and I have mine, and the real truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

People think there are two sides to a coin (like an argument), but there are really three. In the case of the coin there is heads, tails, and the edge.  The edge is where we seem to lose our perspective. Perhaps we are so bent on being right that we can’t even acknowledge the slight possibility that someone else is right and we are wrong. That perspective is what costs people their marriages, their jobs, and relationships in general.

Now, to complicate things, I do believe in certain moral absolutes that are always right or always wrong. The Ten Commandments were true in the days of Moses and they are still true today. Of course, there are some people out there that don’t believe in any absolutes, and I would politely disagree with them. But this discussion is not about moral absolutes. That is my disclaimer.  LOL.

We really don’t know what is going on in the heads and hearts of other people, do we?  For Pete’s sake, we don’t even know what is going on in our OWN heads and hearts at times!

My point here is simple.  You don’t know what you don’t know, so be willing to ask if you expect to grow. It is living in the land of assumptions that gets us into all kinds of trouble. You don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life most of the time. Even your close friends might not tell you everything that is going on. I have had friends, when I ask them why they did not tell me something say, “I just did not want to worry you.” Have you ever heard that or a variation of it? I bet you have.

So, here is the solution to understanding one another:

  • Don’t assume you know what someone is thinking or why they did what they did. Ask them, then just listen without accusing them. Try to look through their eyes.
  • Cut people some slack for being human. We all have our days where we might want to go a little cray-cray. I saw a funny sign recently.  It said, “You can tell a lot about how a woman feels by observing her hands…especially if she is holding a gun.”  Always observe nonverbal communication and guns in particular. LOL
  • If someone else is acting crazy does not give you an excuse to go crazy. Somebody has to act like an adult.  It might as well be you.
  • Respect and obey the law. We have seen enough people in the news who want to blame the law for their bad behavior. My rule for getting along with the police is simple: Do what they tell you to do. Period. Most of us could not and would not be willing to walk a mile in their shoes. I sincerely appreciate those who put their lives on the line for us daily, whether it is the police, the military, or firemen. I thank them every chance I get. I think we all at least had a bit of compassion for the policeman in McKinney when we found out he and just handled two suicide cases before he got called to the illegal pool party. I am not justifying his response which could have and should have been handled better, but I do have compassion for him and his family that I might not have had had I not heard more of the story.

The bottom line is, if we want to get along with one another, we have to be open to hearing the truth from someone else’s perspective. It is either that, or we need to each find an island where nobody else lives and move there. Some days we all opt for finding the island, but till then…Shalom!

Dan Skognes