Motives Matter

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Motives Matter dan skognes motivation blogger speaker

Why you and I do what we do does matter, doesn’t it?  People do things basically for two reasons:

  1. Selfish reasons. They do something because it will benefit them.  They don’t care what the outcome is as long as they win.  They are not concerned with the potential side effects and who might be hurt.  A selfish person says, “What’s in it for me?”  They think win – lose. Their conscience is seared.
  2. Self-less reasons. They do something because it will benefit others.  They care about how it affects everyone.  While they want to win, their motive is not at any cost.  They consider the ethics, morals, and common sense of the situation and if it goes against one of those, they won’t do it. A self-less person says, “What can I do to serve you?” They think win – win. Their conscience is clear.

You may be thinking, “I am definitely not in the first category.”  Well, I hope that you don’t dwell there and I hope it is not part of your character, but I think we all have a natural tendency to fall into the selfish trap if we are not careful.  Be honest, who does not like to have things go their own way?  We all like people to do what we want, when we want it.

So what motivates people?  Some people would say the carrot, and some would say the stick.  Some would say money, and some would say they motivate themselves.  All of those are true, but they are all rooted in two things.  We are either motivated by fear, or we are motivated by love.

If you are motivated by fear, your selfish ambitions take over.  You lose sight of your own humanity when fear takes over.  Love, on the other hand, is liberating.  Love is like turning on the light in a dark room. Love gives. Love heals.  Love creates, builds, and strengthens.  Fear takes.  Fear makes us sick.  Fear tears down, destroys, and weakens us.

Next time you find yourself feeling or acting selfish about something, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”  One thing I know for sure about fear.  If you don’t confront it, it won’t go away.  Fear will continue to advance and take over your life and crush it if you let it.  It can destroy you, your family, your business, and your relationships. In the words of the now famous song….Let It Go.

I know that getting rid of fear can be hard and even seem impossible, but the cure to fear is actually pretty simple, embrace love.  There is a proverb that says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”  Embrace love, and fear will flee.  Fear dwells in darkness.  Love dwells in light.  It is up to you where you will live. I am encouraging you to step into the light.  It sure beats the alternative.


Dan Skognes

What a Difference A Day Makes

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

What A Difference A Day Makes dan skognes motivation blogger speaker


You may have heard this saying before. There is a lot of truth to it. We tend to forget this statement when we are in the frying pan and the heat is getting turned up on us. Circumstances in life can be overwhelming at times, and that goes for everyone on this planet. It rains on the just and the unjust alike.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed with life and the walls seem to be crashing in on you, there are some things you can do to get perspective:

• Many of the things we worry about simply never come to pass. Quit worrying about the “what ifs.”
• Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Tomorrow is another day and circumstances can change dramatically in an instant. Expect good things to happen instead of bad things. We tend to get what we expect.
• If you are in a situation that was caused by a bad decision you made, first of all, own it. Quit blaming others for your bad decisions. Secondly, take steps to correct the mistake if at all possible. It may take an apology or humbling yourself to set things straight, but a positive outcome and peace are well worth the effort.
• Talk with someone who is close to you that has a positive can-do attitude. They need to help you see the positive in the situation, but they also need to be able to tell you the truth in love.
• If you insist on having a pity party, put a limit on it and do it alone. Don’t drag others down just because you are having a bad day.
• If you have a relationship with the Lord, pray. People underestimate the power of prayer, but prayer changes things! If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, this would be a good time to get to know Him.
• Along with praying, read the Bible. It is full of wisdom and is a guide to help you through the darkest hours. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.”
• If you have been in the slump for a prolonged period of time, it is probably time for you to get some professional help. Nobody wants to admit they need therapy, but the truth is….most of us do at some point in our lives. You are not the only person who is having trouble coping. If you are in that river in Egypt…denial, it is time to get out of it and get some help.

Holidays seem to heighten anxiety and depression in people. Don’t be the Grinch. He may have been funny in the book and in the movie, but he is someone that nobody wants to be around in real life.

I know this last bit of advice sounds contrary to what you feel….and it is. Find something every day to give thanks for, and find someone who is worse off than you to do something nice for them. That grateful attitude will change the way you see things and serving someone who is worse off than you will help you put everything in perspective.

P.S. If you have someone in your life that is a thorn in your side, pray for them and bless them. They won’t expect that, and you will be better for it.


Dan Skognes

The Forgotten Factor

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

The Forgotten Factor dan skognes motivation blogger speakerZig Ziglar used to talk about the need to have an “attitude of gratitude.”  I think the world to a large part has lost that concept. Gratitude has been replaced with an attitude of “You owe me.” Is it any wonder that we are surrounded by people who are unhappy, bitter, and downright angry?

I was speaking with a friend of mine this week and asked him, “What do you think is missing in today’s society?”  He said, “Faith.”  While I agree that faith is definitely missing for many people, gratitude is foundational for you to have faith.  I don’t believe you can be a person who is grounded in faith without being grateful. It seems to me that gratitude is the foundation upon which faith is built.

If you are a person who is already showing gratitude, then this is just a reminder, but if you are one of the many people who feels that everyone owes them, then pay attention.

  • Gratitude is learned.  We are not born with it.  In fact, just the opposite.  We are born selfish and expecting everyone to meet our needs.  Lesson 1 is, “It is not all about YOU and YOUR needs.” Learn to say, “Thank you,” and mean it.
  • Gratitude is essential to love, peace, faith, and happiness.  When you express a heart-felt thank you to someone, it does two very positive things.  First, it makes the other person happy that you recognize that they have done something for you and are grateful (which typically makes them want to do more for you, by the way), and it reinforces in you a spirit of humility.  Lesson 2 is, “Gratitude is foundational to being a whole person.”
  • The enemy of gratitude is pride.  Pride says, “I am going to do whatever I want to whomever I want and let the chips fall where they may.”  That attitude has gone before millions of people who have fallen.  Lesson 3 is, “Lose the pride.”  Be willing to say thank you even for the little things that people do.  It does matter in the end.

I had the opportunity to visit a very poor Mayan village in Guatemala.  It was an amazing trip in many ways, but one thing really stuck out in my mind about these people.  They were so grateful for the little things that we did for them. One of the things we did was just to listen to their stories and pray for them.  Apparently this was not common in their village for people (especially strangers) to do.  They loved us for just taking time to listen to them and pray for them. 

The other thing we did was to take them a basket of food.  The basket had basic staples like flour, cooking oil, rice, beans, etc.  You would have thought we were giving them a fortune.  I found out later that many of these people only had tortillas to eat on a daily basis.  That kind of puts things in perspective when you sit down at YOUR next meal, doesn’t it? What really humbled me was when they served us something to drink and eat, sharing the little bit that they had.

If you are in a place that seems difficult, the one thing that you CAN do is to change your attitude.  Be grateful for what people do for you.  Be grateful for what God is doing.  Even if you don’t see things changing, be grateful.  If you want your faith to grow, if you want to be happy, give thanks. Gratitude will change you in a positive way….and others appreciate it too.


Dan Skognes

The Rainbow After The Rain

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Rainbow After The Storm dan skognes gator print LLC motivation blogger speakerStorms come into all of our lives, and we have no control over most of them.  Some storms can be avoided altogether, but some seem to chase us down no matter which way we turn.

Here are some things I have learned about the storms we must face:

  1.  Some storms look terrible to begin with, then just fizzle out.  Don’t fret over things that “appear” to be bad.  Time will tell just how severe the storm is. Quit worrying about “the what ifs.”
  2. Some storms we bring upon ourselves with dumb decisions.  Think twice about the potential consequences of your decisions. Better to avoid it altogether than to have to endure a storm that you caused.
  3. It rains on the just and the unjust alike.  Don’t feel like you are the only one going through the storm.  Other people are going through the similar if not identical things.  While that may not be a comfort to you when you are in the storm, it does put things in perspective that you are not alone. Everybody, and I mean everybody goes through storms.
  4. You may not have been the cause of the storm, but you still have to survive it. When I found myself in a literal hail storm one time, I waited under an underpass along with about 20 other vehicles.  The storm eventually let up and we all got out without a scratch.  Know where your underpass is if you see a storm approaching.
  5. Look for the rainbow.  That signals the end of the storm.  Sometimes they are hard to see, but look for them nonetheless. They are an example that beauty can come from the storm if you seek it. They are a sign of hope.
  6. Remind yourself that, “This too shall pass.” Seldom does a storm last for a lifetime.  Some do, but most don’t.

My wife recently saw a man riding a bike and a dog running beside him.  She assumed from the looks of him that he was homeless. She and one of our daughters stopped to see if there was anything they could do to help him.  He had a great attitude.  He was on the way to get his dog groomed!  Someone had donated a grooming for his pet.  How cool is that?  He was a veteran that was raising money for Wounded Warriors by traveling across the country and seeking help from those he encountered…not for himself…but for those men and women who have come back to our country wounded and trying to acclimate themselves back into society.

Appearances can be deceiving.  I know some people think twice about whether to help homeless people.  Here is my take on that.  It is not our job to determine whether or not they really need our help.  God is their judge….not me. Not you. My advice is, give as often as you have the means to do so.  His words to my wife and daughter were worth stopping to hear.  He told them, “Something good always follows something bad.”  Those were words my wife and daughter really needed to hear that day.  Who knows?  Maybe he was an angel in disguise, sent there to give them a word of encouragement.

If you are in a storm, look for the rainbow.  It may be just what you need to keep you going and stay the course.


Dan Skognes

Why Success Fails

Posted in Business, Motivational

When Success Fails dan skognes leadership training development coaching motivation blogger speaker (360x246)

You have heard the old saying that “Success breeds success.”  Well, that may be true to a point.  I know that when we experience success in something, it energizes us and gives us confidence to succeed again.  However, sometimes we do all the right things and we still fail.

I can recall times in my sales career where I did everything I could to make a sale, and the things that worked for me yesterday, last week, or even last year are not working now.  I can’t explain it, but sometimes you can do everything right and still fail.

Here are some reasons I have identified why success sometimes fails:

  • We might be trying to do something that no longer has significant relevance to the recipient. If it is not a priority to them, cut your losses and move on.  Don’t waste time with people who are unwilling or unable to make a decision.
  • We may have misjudged the intent of the recipient to begin with. Perhaps they were just being polite and don’t like saying “No.”
  • It could just be a timing issue.  Sometimes people really do have to wait to make a decision and are not just blowing you off.
  • We could be too focused on what we want, and not what the recipient wants.  People always seem to sense when someone is desperate for a decision or a sale.
  • If ALL…and I mean ALL of the decision makers are not there, don’t waste your time.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me I was just meeting with them, and not to worry because they had the authority to make the decision…and then when it gets to decision time, they say, “I have to run this past Bob, or Martha, or whomever.” That can drive a preacher to drink!
  • If we are unwilling to change and insist on doing things the way we have always done them, we are subject to more than failure…we are subject to becoming obsolete.  Montgomery Wards, Kmart, Gibsons, Mervyns, Blockbuster, Circuit City, just to name a few…have all become obsolete.  Kmart is still hanging on by a thread in parts of the country, but they are no longer a serious contender in the retail space.  JC Penny is next to fall unless they do some serious revamping. Kodak was once the name in photography.  No longer.  They refused to go digital and have nearly collapsed as a result. They will have a hard time ever regaining the glory days.

Success is something we each would probably define differently.  For me, success means having a balanced spiritual life, family life, work life, and social life.  It means doing something on a daily basis that has significance and being remembered as a man who loved God 1st and foremost, and loved his neighbor as himself.  I work hard, play hard, and know that when I give of myself to God and others…I always receive much more in return.  I don’t give to get…I just know that it happens.  That gives me contentment, satisfaction, purpose, and Shalom! Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life?

Dan Skognes

Lessons Learned From Football

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Lessons Learned From Football dan skognes leadership consultant trainer coach motivation blogger speaker (360x211)I was speaking with a friend of mine who used to play for the Dallas Cowboys.  We were discussing the game Sunday, which was a great victory over Seattle, last year’s Superbowl Champs. 

What really frosted him were comments by different people that Tony Romo and Demarco Murray were primarily responsible for the win.  His point was that without the offensive line, neither one would be performing well.  That is very true.  And, to take it a step further…what about the kicker Dan Bailey?  They would not have won without his efforts.  He is an amazingly accurate kicker. In fact, every player was critical to the win.

It came to me as we were discussing the game that any team, whether it is an athletic team or an organizational team is dependent on EVERYONE doing their part.  The strength of a team will always be limited by its weakest link, and every team has at least one.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from football:

  • It is never about one player on a team.  It is about a concerted effort to win.
  • It does not matter what the score is at half time.  Until the final tick of the clock, the game is not over.  Never throw in the towel as long as you can physically perform.
  • How well you did last year does not guarantee that you will repeat that level of performance this year.  It is a constant moving target because of personnel changes, and in the world of football especially, how healthy everyone is.
  • Show respect to your competition.  Disrespecting them only fuels their desire to make an example of you.
  • Identify your weak link(s) and help them get on track.  Replace them if necessary, but do everything possible to help them succeed first.  There was a reason you put them on your team to begin with, right?  Find their strengths and help them take those abilities to the next level.  Coach them, mentor them, encourage them, and push them to succeed.  The only players that can’t be salvaged are those who refuse to be helped.  You will know pretty quickly who they are if they can’t admit their mistakes or they won’t accept your help.

Jason Garrett has been cussed and discussed ever since he took over the reins as the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  I am grateful that he did not get fired for his performance over the past few seasons, but he was given time to put the pieces together to make a great team.  Great teams don’t happen overnight.  It takes time, the right personnel, and a concerted effort to excellence. It sounds simple, and it is…yet it is complex to achieve.

It still remains to be seen whether this is the year for the Cowboys to go all the way or not, but whatever happens I am encouraged by the progress I see at all levels.  So….what lessons have YOU learned from football?


Dan Skognes

Why People Can’t Be Transparent

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Why People Cant Be Transparent dan skognes leadership consultant trainer coach motivation blogger speakerYou may be thinking to yourself, “Why do people NEED to be transparent?”  Fair enough. Good question.  People need to be transparent to be real.  I am not talking about people who have diarrhea of the mouth and feel the need to tell you everything that has ever happened to them.  I am talking about being honest with yourself and with others about who you really are.

Transparency is critical to having healthy relationships.  It is critical to building trust.  Seriously, can you trust someone who never admits a fault?  Probably not! But then it begs the question, “Why can’t people be transparent with one another?”

I think there are a number of factors here:

  • Fear that people will think less of them
  • Fear that they will lose control
  • Fear that they might be rejected
  • Fear that they will have to tell something that is very painful to re-live
  • Fear that they might offend others

It does not take a rocket scientist to see the common thread.  Fear is real and keeps people from being real with one another.  What is the cost of letting fear hold you back from being transparent?

  • You will have a hard time being truly intimate in relationships
  • People will suspect you are hiding something and therefore not trust you
  • Lack of transparency will cost you in relationships,  both personal and business
  • You will never discover the true magic of just being yourself
  • You will not get to benefit from the strength that comes from being vulnerable
  • Trying to hide who you really are is very stressful, and stress can kill you
  • You rob the world of knowing your heart….who you really are

We need real people….real husbands and wives….real leaders.  If we insist on wearing masks and posing then we are only fooling ourselves.  We can hide our emotions, but it will take a toll on everything and everyone we touch.  It is a very lonely road to walk for those who refuse to be real.

We can never fully live until we accept who we are, and then be willing to share that with the world. If you don’t like who you are, that is not fatal.  You can change the things you don’t like.  If you need help, seek professional help to come to grips with who you are.  We all have warts….just admit the ones you have.  You will come to realize that the problems you face are not so unique.


Dan Skognes

The Comfort Zone

Posted in Business, Motivational

The Comfort Zone dan skognes tmi leadership consultant trainer coach motivation blogger speaker

We all have a way of finding our own comfort zone.  You know what that looks like, right?  That is the time and place we seek to get to where we have a sense of peace and contentment. The place where things just seem normal, natural, and easy.

That sounds good and worthwhile, but it is a dangerous place to get comfortable in.  The comfort zone has a tendency to do the following:

  • It makes us content with the way things are, thus we miss opportunities to grow.
  • It makes us lazy.  Only when we stretch and move out of the comfort zone do we grow.  Like working out with weights….your muscles grow with the resistance.
  • It has a tendency to give you a false sense of peace.  True peace is found when you are able to be at peace whether you are in the storm, or in the shelter.  It is an inward response to external circumstances, and not dependent on peaceful circumstances. It is like the difference between joy and happiness.  Joy is internal and not dependent on circumstances.  Happiness comes and goes depending on what is happening in our lives.
  • It is the place we often seek when we are fearful.  The problem with that mentality is that we have to learn to face our fears.  If we don’t, we miss our opportunities and our destiny.  Remember that greatness is never achieved in the comfort zone.

So how do we break out of the comfort zone? Maybe the real question is, why should we?

  • First and foremost you have to admit that you are in it.  Admit that you have become complacent with things as they are. If you hold on to the present, you may very well miss the future you were intended to see.
  • Secondly, you have to be willing to change.  Change can be scary when you don’t know what the future holds, but change is inevitable. You can embrace it or ignore it, but how you react will determine your future.
  • Thirdly, be willing to face what you fear.  If you are afraid of public speaking, take a course to help you.  If you fear being in a committed relationship, get some help to find out why you carry that wound, and do something about it.  Whatever it is that you are fearful of, realize that fear is not from God.  Fear is a tool of the enemy.  Nothing good comes from living in fear. Stress, worry, anger, frustration, addictions, and many health issues (like heart attacks, strokes, cancer) all have roots in fear!
  • Lastly, realize that the comfort zone is different for each person.  What you might find very easy to do, someone else might be throwing up at the thought.  The moral here is to cut each other some slack. If you are fearless in a particular area that is stressful for someone else, you can be the one to encourage them, mentor them, and help them overcome their fears.

It is OK to dwell there from time to time.  We all need a time and place to just chill.  Just don’t reside there.  Greatness awaits each of us outside the comfort zone.

P.S.  My wife informed me that at her age….she just wants the comfort zone.  She has earned it!  LOL.


Dan Skognes

Like Sand Through The Hourglass

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Like Sand Through The Hourglass dan skognes leadership consulting training development mothivation blogger speakerSo are the days of our lives.  At least that is how the soap opera says it. You might be feeling like your life is like a soap opera.  I know mine has been more often that I would like to admit.

Steve Miller once sang, “Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking…into the future.” We can’t stop it, we can’t control it, we only get to steward it.  We can waste it if we want, or we can make each minute mean something.

I was thinking about the biggest time wasters I have personally fallen into:

  • Worry.  What does it accomplish other than to give you indigestion, ulcers, and keep you from doing what you should be doing?
  • Fear. Similar to worry because they are brothers.  Fear does no good and keeps you from your destiny.
  • Doing something God did not call or equip you to do.  By the way, if He called you to do something, He equipped you with everything you need to be successful.  He always gives us what we need though the Holy Spirit to accomplish His perfect will.
  • Trying to be a people pleaser.  That is a waste of time.  We need to serve God and serve people…but living to please people does not satisfy.  You will never please all the people all of the time.  Ask any husband or wife.  Ask any politician, Pastor or business leader. Be kind to them.  Love them.  Serve them.
  • Getting caught up in the weeds.  In other words, losing sight of the real priorities in life.  Spending too much time on things that have no eternal significance.
  • Living with un-forgiveness.  It is ridiculous when you think about how crippling un-forgiveness is, and yet millions of people struggle to forgive others for something they have said or done to them.  It is said that un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  How ludicrous is that? Let go of any un-forgiveness you might be harboring in your heart.  That brings incredible freedom, and God commands that we do it if we expect to be forgiven.
  • Inability to let go of something that is not working out.  This is a big one in my life.  I have a hard time throwing in the towel and admitting that I failed at something.  There are times to persevere when the goal is worthwhile, but way too many times I have tried to the point of exhaustion to make something work (sometimes for years), when I would have been much further ahead to admit I can’t do it and just get some help, or at the least, change course.
  • Not learning from our failures and repeating the same mistakes over and over.  While I am getting better at this one, I still find myself from time to time being a repeat offender in an area where I should have learned the lesson long ago.  Some traps are easily sprung, particularly when we willingly put our foot in the trap.

The older I get the faster the sand seems to fall through the hourglass.  My years fly by now, whereas an hour used to seem like an eternity when I was a kid.  The only time an hour seems like an eternity now is if I am sick or when I have offended someone.  I try to avoid both of those like the plague….no pun intended. Don’t waste the time God has given you.  You can never get it back.  Each minute matters.  Make the most of it so when you have taken your last breath, God will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Your time for the moment, is in your hands. Treat it like the sacred gift that it is.

P.S.  There is no hourglass in Heaven.  :o )


Dan Skognes

SHK University

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

SHK University dan skognes leadership development training consulting motivation blogger speaker

Perhaps you have heard of this famous school.  Maybe you have a degree, or even multiple degrees from here….The School of Hard Knocks University.

I hate to admit it, but I have multiple degrees from this school.  Failure is a powerful teacher.  Failure brings clarity because it usually brings pain, embarrassment, financial setbacks, and a host of other bad things.

What I have learned from attaining my degrees:

  • When God says, “No,” it was because he loves me and wants the best for me. When I proceeded forward in my own way, it never had positive results.
  • When Mom and Dad said, “No,” it was not to keep me from having fun.  They probably had made many of the same mistakes that I was contemplating making, and were just sparing me the pain and consequences. They also had the common sense that I was often lacking.
  • When you have a “gut check” about doing something that might be wrong, listen!  Pay attention to the red flags that are waving in front of you. When you ignore the warning signs, you will suffer.
  • If you have a “gut check” about doing something, consult with someone who is not emotionally attached to the decision…someone who has wisdom and common sense.
  • My wife told me one day that people are free to choose to do what they want to do, they just don’t get to choose the consequences.  If we considered what the consequences “could” be, we might be less prone to jumping blindly off the bridge. Some consequences last a lifetime, and some are fatal.
  • Don’t let your pride get in the way of learning. Nobody has all the answers.  Pride is the enemy of learning.  Stay humble.  You can humble yourself, or someone else will humble you.  Your choice.

A few years ago, a grown man asked me, “Why do I have to learn everything the hard way?”  I understood his pain and felt for him.  The truth is, we don’t have to have multiple degrees from SHK University.  I will give you a clue about how to avoid multiple degrees.  Learn the lesson the first time.  If you don’t, you don’t fail, you just get to keep taking the course over and over again till you pass.

Here is to learning the lesson the first time.


Dan Skognes