Weapons of Mass Instruction

Posted in Motivational

Weapons of Mass Instruction dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIf you are a teacher, a preacher, a parent, or just need to be able to communicate with kids on occasion, this is for you. I am going to share with you a secret weapon for instructing kids that is (for some strange reason) overlooked by most adults….music!

When kids show up at school in the morning, the teachers are standing quietly at their doors…smiling and greeting the kids as they come in. Mine is different.  I am at the door, but as soon as they come in the class, they hear a song being played that is current, upbeat, and catchy. You see them nervously look at each other like, “What is going on?” Then you see them smile, giggle, and whisper among each other. The next thing you know, their heads are bobbing…they are singing along with the lyrics, and a few of them are dancing to the music. Great way to start the day….right?

I use music throughout the day and play music that they love. It is like magic when I put on a song they like.  Immediately I have their attention. Sometimes I get up and dance with them…which obviously gets some laughs. They love it. Music is the universal language that everyone can relate to…even if they don’t speak English!

I bought a small wireless Bluetooth speaker that I sync with my cell phone.  I have a play list of appropriate music on my phone which I constantly update as new songs come out.  I check out the lyrics first on Lyrics.com or Youtube to make sure there is nothing offensive in the lyrics.  I sometimes uses KidzBop music if there is a song I like but want G rated lyrics. KidzBop sounds almost identical to the original version of the music but the lyrics have been changed to be age appropriate.

This past week I was doing circle up with my class.  This is a ritual that is repeated in classrooms all over America daily…particularly with elementary age kids. The kids sit in a circle and pass around a stuffed animal or a baton.  Whoever has it gets to speak. I pick the topic. With this class, I had already told them I was Superman and I was married to WonderWoman, so the topic for today was going to be: If they could be any Super Hero, who would they be and why?

One little boy sheepishly looked up and said, “Can I just pass?”  I smiled and said, “Yes, but if you pass, you have to stand up and sing to the class!”  LOL.  The class nervously giggled and started the stuffed animal around the ring.  Everyone participated till we got to Bobby.  He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and said he did not want to participate.  I said fine, they you get to sing!  He laughed and asked, “Can I have some friends join me?”  I said, “Of course!” So five little 3rd grade boys are huddled together in the back of the room plotting what they are going to do.  They come back and do a little song and silly dance routine that had the rest of the class screaming with laughter. The girls were not going to be outdone, so the next girl in line said she did not want to participate…and her and some of her friends got up and did a routine for the rest of the class. The five minutes was literally electric…and the kids were buzzing with excitement for the day…in a good way.

I know I have done my job well when we get the tasks assigned by the regular teacher done, the kids are engaged, and at the end of the day, I am getting hugs and they are asking me if I can come back tomorrow. That is what makes MY day.

Music can unify a class, break down barriers to learning, and energize the kids to learn. Try it…you just might find that you can bust a move too.  LOL.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

 

10 Things That Make You Go Huh?

Posted in Funny, Motivational

10 Things That Make You Go Huh dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coach teacher educator

  • A young man I knew was having an argument with his Dad and he stormed out of the house declaring, “Nobody is going to tell ME what to do! I’m joining the ARMY!”
  • Johnny’s dad had rather salty language. When he let a bad word slip, he would say, “Pardon my French.” You can imagine the look on the face of the foreign language teacher when he asked the class if anyone spoke French and Johnny raised his hand.
  • Bruce Jenner was named Woman of the Year?
  • Hillary???
  • When I was teaching a class of 4th graders and told them I was Superman, one of the boys in the back of the class yelled out, “Superman does NOT have a double chin!” I shouted back, “That is not a double chin…that is a TRIPLE chin!!!” (And I am on a diet…OK?)
  • Hillary??? (Did I say that already?)
  • In public schools you can talk about Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Day of the Dead celebration, but you can’t talk about Jesus??? Isn’t that what Christmas is really about?
  • Televangelists that have jets.  Jesus rode a donkey….just sayin.
  • The Dallas Cowboys can’t seem to have a consistent winning season. There is always next year, right?
  • A Powerball winner that won over $300 million and was $1.5 million in debt in 4 years!!! Whether we win $500 million or $1 million, about 70 percent of us lose or spend all our money in five years or less.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Cost of Excellence

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Cost of Excellence dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorExcelling at something is going to cost you; the higher the goal, the greater the cost. Whether you want to excel at a sport, in business, or in relationships…there is a price to be paid for excellence.

I have been fortunate in my career to have excelled in business and been awarded top salesman / manager on more than one occasion with several companies. Looking back, I did not have that goal in mind when I was working.  I just wanted to do well, make a lot of money, and enjoy my work. Being the top dog was not my goal…it was a by-product of pursuing the desire to excel.

I can recall working alone in cath labs all night long so that the client would have great images when they took pictures the next day. There were many times I had that self-talk and asked, “What am I doing here???” The rewards were not instantaneous. Many times I wondered if what I was doing really mattered.

Here is what I learned about excellence:

  • It requires that you do more than others are typically willing to do. That is what sets you apart when you do more than what was expected and more than you projected.
  • It is part of your character. What you do when nobody is looking matters. You don’t cut corners when striving for excellence.
  • It is noticed by others. You don’t have to toot your own horn when you excel at what you do. Others will be your cheerleaders, so resist the temptation to stoop to bragging about what you have done. Bragging cheapens your reward.
  • It is the result of more than just your own efforts. It might be your CEO, your manger, your coach, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, but someone has contributed to your achievements. It may just be the prayers of your Mom…but somebody has been there in your corner to help you on your journey. Always give credit where credit is due. Thank those that have helped you get to the top.

Excellence is what every company and team talks about, but few have truly pursued it with a whole heart. It is more than a slogan on the wall. It is a way of life. It is never settling for how things are today and the successes of the past. It is realizing that there is always another mountain to climb, another victory to pursue, another dream to fulfill.

Life is short; live every day with purpose and passion. What would your life look like if everything you did was done with excellence? How would it affect our world if everyone did that?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Compassion

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Compassion dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorCompassion is a beautiful thing…both to observe and to be a part of. I was teaching in an elementary school last week and saw compassion in action. A little girl was sobbing as she came up to me on the playground. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “Juan said that I was responsible for everything that was wrong in the world!” I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the statement, but to her, it was a cut to the bone.

As I put my hand on her shoulder I said, “Don’t pay attention to Juan.  He does not know what he is talking about.” Three of the little girl’s friends immediately surrounded her. They were consoling her, hugging her, and stroking her hair. They felt her pain.

I asked one of the girls to go get Juan and bring him over to us. A minute later I could see Juan walking towards me with that “Uh-oh I am BUSTED look” on his face. I could see the defiance in him when he walked up to us. I asked him if he told her that she was responsible for all the problems in the world, and he immediately started the blame game. “She did this and she did that.” I think every adult that has been around this scenario can appreciate the predicament.  I said, “Stop! I don’t want to hear it. Was what you said to her kind?” He started to argue again…and I said, “No, was it KIND?” He finally hung his head and said, “No.” Then I said, “Well, what do you have to say to her?” He looked at her and said, “I’m sorry.”  I looked at her and asked her, “What do you say to him?” She said, “I forgive you.”

I looked at both of them and asked, “Are we OK then?” He smiled back at me. She smiled back at me, and all was well with the world again. They both ran off playing and laughing. What struck me about this episode is that it is very common. It is played out a thousand times every day on playgrounds all over the world. But what really touched me was the compassion she received from her friends. They felt her pain (whether it was real or not). They wanted her to know it would be OK. They were there for her.

But what if a child does not have anyone in their corner? What if nobody cares that they are hurting emotionally or physically? That happens every day too, unfortunately. That is where we as adults have a responsibility to be kind, be compassionate, and be the one who cares. Everyone needs to know that somebody cares. Next time you see someone hurting, be compassionate. Show them the love that we all need. There may not be anyone else to help them through their crisis.

Never underestimate the power of compassion. It is like being God with skin on to them because that is who God is; He is love. When you are compassionate to someone, you are showing them the love of God.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

Posted in Business, Motivational

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI know that not everyone will agree with this, and that is OK….but I don’t think everyone should get a ribbon just for showing up. Whatever happened to the winners getting a trophy because they won? Now we seem to have taken the stance that everyone gets a ribbon just for showing up. Really?  Is that a realistic look at how life really is?

Do we get awards for just showing up at work? I know that is a bit of a trick question because some companies do award perfect attendance…but that is not the point here. You still have to produce. You don’t get rewarded for just showing up…at least not for long. Eventually you have to contribute to the company or they will let you go. Ask any professional athlete if they can keep a job without contributing to the team.

Having taught adults and kids, I know that egos can be fragile and nobody likes to lose. I have seen “adults” throwing tantrums on the sidelines of professional sports when they lose a game, so age is apparently not the issue. Getting older is mandatory, maturity is optional.

Whether you are an adult or a child, you have to learn to win and lose graciously. Losing is part of the game of life, just like winning is. The trick is to be gracious despite the outcome. I detest seeing people taunt their competition when they have won a game.  Lombardi gave some advice to his players that drives home my point. He was correcting some players that were showboating in the end zone.  He simply said, “Act like you’ve been there before.

Losing is one of the greatest teachers we have in life. You never fully appreciate winning until you know the pain of losing. Losing gives you the incentive to get better, to achieve new records, to conquer new territory…and losing gives you checkpoints. Losing gives you the motivation to change. If you won at everything you did, where would the challenge be? What fun would it be if you won every game and every battle you encountered? Napoleon was said to have sat down and cried at one point because there was nothing (that he knew of) left to conquer. It is the possibility of losing that makes winning sweet.

I do believe in helping shape a child’s mind and heart with tender loving care, but giving everyone a ribbon sends the wrong message. When losing, they need to be encouraged through it not rewarded for it. I have nothing against giving a team due recognition for first, second, and third place…but isn’t that enough? Do we need to have trophies and ribbons for every team that played regardless of their performance? Maybe I am looking at this from an old school perspective, or maybe I am the sane one.  LOL

We seem to live in a day and age where we are so afraid of offending people that we compromise ourselves at the slightest push. How about we stop that and just agree to teach kids and adults to endure, to have hope, to excel, and not quit? Isn’t that more powerful than a ribbon for participating? Losing does not make someone a loser. If they learn that one thing it can change them and affect all those they encounter in a positive manner for the rest of their lives.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Get Past The Past

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Get Past The Past dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAre you trying to move forward looking in the rearview mirror?  It is impossible to do. There is a reason a windshield is so big in comparison to the rearview mirror.  It was never intended for you to drive or to live looking backwards.

Letting go of past mistakes can be very hard to do when relationships have been sacrificed, careers ruined, and finances tanked. What makes it next to impossible to let go of the past is when you are continually reminded of the mistakes you have made. So, is it even possible to live in the now and let go of the past?

The answer is, “That depends on you.”  It is up to you whether you want to live a life that is full, rewarding, and filled with blessings, or if you want to dwell in the past and miss all of that.  Who in their right mind would choose to dwell in the past and miss the blessings of the present, right? Well, unfortunately, millions of people fall into that trap.

Here are a few things that might help you move forward in the new year:

  • You can’t move forward if you are still anchored in the past. Pull up the anchor that is holding you back. Whatever it is that the anchor represents (bitterness, resentments, anger, un-forgiveness, hanging out with the wrong crowd, etc.), pull it up and move forward. It may require that you get new friends, a new job, new hobbies, or forgive someone that has done something unforgivable towards you; but, whatever it is that is holding you back, take responsibility for yourself and do what is right vs. what feels good at the moment.
  • You can’t move forward if you are stuck in neutral. You have to do something positive to move yourself forward. Replace bitterness, resentments, anger, and un-forgiveness with love, grace, kindness, and mercy.
  • Get friends that are grounded emotionally and spiritually. If you are getting advice from friends that is contrary to common sense or Biblical principles, that should be a clue to you that you need new friends. There is a proverb that says, “Evil company corrupts.” Take heed to who you hang with. They WILL influence you for good or for evil.
  • Be willing to admit your mistakes. Take responsibility for things you have done wrong and rectify them if possible.
  • Forgive yourself and don’t allow others to “shame you” when you have moved forward.

Life is complicated for most of us. There are so many moving parts and there are always the surprises that life throws at us on a regular basis. My prayer for you and for myself is that we let the past be past. Let’s learn from our mistakes, let go of the anchor(s) that have been keeping us from moving forward, and let’s make the new year the best year of our lives.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Role Models

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Role Models dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

Kids are always looking for role models. We hope they seek good ones, but sometimes the good ones are not what they seem. When someone is in the public eye, they have a responsibility to set the right example.

Whether you are an athlete, an entertainer, a politician, or prominent businessman…people are looking at you constantly to see what you do, how you behave when the camera is not on, and how you treat the people you encounter. By the way, in this day and age it is wise to assume the camera is always on. Think about the people who have been “busted” because of off-hand remarks or antics that they thought were private.

Just this morning Trevone Boykin, the starting quarterback for TCU was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. He punched a policeman in the process. He is one game away from completing his season and does this? What was he thinking?

It reminds me of the video that went viral of Johnny “Football” Manziel partying like a kid who had just turned 21. He lied about the video to his coaches and the owner of the Cleveland Browns…perhaps because he had just been named the starting Quarterback for the team! Guess what? The truth came out anyway. What was he thinking?

In the entertainment world, the list is endless as well. I saw a documentary yesterday on Britney Spears. Good grief. She had it all….looks, wealth, fame, incredible talent…and every young girl wanted to be Britney. What did she do? She got involved with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.  Hmmmm…I wonder how that is going to turn out?  Not good, obviously. She took a dive into darkness and it nearly killed her. I am not saying that Lindsay and Paris were the only contributing factors, but they put her on the slippery slope that just about did her in. Her reputation was ruined and it took years for her to recover from the madness. What was she thinking?

Of course, the list would not be complete without discussing politicians. You would think THEY of all people would know that people are ALWAYS watching them…especially the press. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney (to a lesser degree), etc., all burst the bubble of what people thought of them. The first two were disgraced in office and Mitt lost the opportunity to be a serious candidate for President when he was secretly taped at a fundraiser saying: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” What were they thinking?

Sadly, the list of fallen preachers and evangelists is too long to list. Obviously, none of these people were thinking clearly and considering the consequences.

What do we need as a society?

  • We need role models who understand that character is revealed when you think nobody is looking.
  • They do what is right, not what feels good at the moment.
  • Their actions mirror their words.
  • They have replaced their pride with humility.
  • They surround themselves with people of good moral character.
  • They admit when they are wrong and learn the lesson.

In the end, it is not how pretty or handsome you are, how many touchdowns you scored, how many elections won, how many records sold, or how many members you have in your church. What really matters is who you are when you call it a day. Be a role model for those in your family, your community, your business, your school, or whatever sphere of influence you have been placed in. Never forget that people are always watching what you do, what you say, and how you behave. Be a role model worth remembering.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Possibilities

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Possibilities dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach teacher educatorI watched a short video this morning of Sadie Guthrie, a teacher who helps kids with special needs at Lawton Alternative School. What she did was both inspiring and amazing at the same time. She started a coffee service in her school for the special needs kids to do. They served the teachers fresh coffee throughout the day. They also went every day to a local bakery that was donating pastries to the school.

So many good things came out of this small act of love:

  • The kids took pride in their new business and were learning social skills and received business experience while doing something good for the teachers.
  • The teachers were shown appreciation in a unique and meaningful way.
  • The teachers got to know the special needs kids on a personal level that they would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
  • The bakery got to do something cool for the school and give back to those dedicated to serve the kids.
  • The community got to see special needs kids out and about using public transportation and doing something productive with their lives.

When she was telling her short story of what she was doing for the kids, she got choked up when she talked about people who are unkind to the special needs kids. They are pretty easy targets for those who wish to bully or ridicule, but as this showed, they have hearts and minds too. They have a purpose.  Perhaps their purpose is to teach us to love one another.

Sadie gave a powerful lesson in life: don’t see people for their disabilities; see them for their possibilities. We all have disabilities that we have to deal with to some degree. Next time you look at someone….don’t think about what they can’t do. Imagine what they CAN do…then encourage them to do it. Magic happens when life is breathed into another soul. It is not our job to change people.  It is our job to love them and encourage them.

If you want to see Sadie’s story firsthand, here is the link. Check it out.  You will be blessed: https://youtu.be/_1dBa6f0qyk

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

 

Fearless

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Fearless dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIf you want to be fearless, you have to fear less. Kind of obvious…but the question everyone seems to get hung up on is the “How?” To fear less you have to be faith full. To be full of faith, you know to know love…and that goes beyond just head knowledge. It includes the heart. Knowing and believing have to go hand in hand. Perfect love casts out fear like light dispels the darkness. Know love, no fear.

The greatest leaders in history have been fearless. Some might argue that evil people can be fearless, but I don’t think so.  In fact, I believe they are consumed by fear and that masks how they really feel inside. They are driven by a fear of failure, a fear of loss of control, a fear of losing their title, their bank account, or a myriad of other things.

Are you fearless?  Do you worry about your job, your family, your finances, or your future? Do you live in a state of anxiety, or do you live in power and confidence knowing your future is in God’s hands….and you have full trust in Him? Are you like the guy who was talking with a customer service rep on the phone and she asked him: “What state do you live in?” He replied: “The state of confusion.” LOL. Don’t be that guy!

We are getting ready to enter into a new year and some of you reading this are already in turmoil.  “How are we going to pay the bills? Will our relationship end? What if they don’t renew my contract at work?” Yada yada yada. The worry list, unfortunately, is long and the possibilities are endless for many people.

We often don’t appreciate what we have till we have lost it; then we are consumed with the fear of never regaining it, or worse…we are so obsessed with the fear of losing that we just give up on it.

What do you fear? What is holding you back? Here are some things to help you in the new year:

  • Make a list of anything that you are truly afraid of, then ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if this takes place?” Chances are the consequences in your mind are blown out of proportion because of fear. Fear clouds your mind and limits your options. To think clear, lose the fear.
  • If you fear not making it financially, get some counsel from a trusted financial advisor. Financial advice from people who are broke like you are worth what you paid…nothing.
  • If you fear losing your job, make a plan to become more confident, more proficient, more valuable to your employer. Sometimes this simply requires you to quit griping about your job and start appreciating what you have. A grateful heart and positive attitude goes a long way with employers!
  • If it is a relationship that is faltering, don’t run from it. Find a way to express yourself without accusation and without getting overly emotional. That might require a professional counselor depending on where you are in the relationship…but remind yourself that the fight or flee mentality does not fare well in relationships. Communication has to be two way for your relationship to go the same direction.
  • Faith your fears. Believe in God. Believe in yourself. Trust other people that have proven themselves to be trustworthy. Trust God to guide you, provide for you, and protect you. God is the one constant that you can always trust in.

If you don’t like where you are today, change what you are doing…and that starts with changing how you think. If you live in fear, you will never have peace, you will never attain your full potential, and you will never see the blessings that God has in store for you.

My prayer for you (as well as for myself) is that fear have no foothold in our lives. Let’s each commit ourselves to living the life that God intended. Let’s not allow fear to become our reality.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Your Net Worth

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Your Net Worth dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatiorWhat would you say if I told you I could tell you your net worth without looking at your financials? I don’t have a crystal ball and I am not clairvoyant, but I can still tell you your net worth without seeing your checkbook or financial statements. You see, your worth actually has nothing to do with your money. It has nothing to do with how much you own, what you are invested in, where you live, or your job title. Your bottom line has nothing to do with things.

I saw a powerful video the other day about worth. This guy held up a $20 bill and asked if you wanted it. Of course you do, right?  Then he said, “What if I told you this bill was involved in buying illegal drugs, or to buy sex, or used to fund terrorism? Would you still want it?” Well, you may detest how it was used, but of course you would still want it.  The value of that $20 bill had nothing to do with how it was used or abused.  It still had value because it was underwritten by the United States government. (I realize that value is debatable….but you get the point).

So if a $20 bill has inherent value, what about us? Well, I believe that everybody on this planet has value.  What they do with it….use it correctly or abuse it…it up to them. Being a Christian, I know that not everyone who reads this will agree with me, but I can point out a few verses (out of hundreds) from the Bible that supports what I am saying:

  • Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” We are made in God’s image and he gave us dominion over the world.
  • Ephesians 1:5 “He predestined us for adoption to son-ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are part of God’s family and you have an inheritance.
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Would God sacrifice his only Son for something worthless?  Of course not.
  • Romans 8:38 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” That verse alone should give you great hope and confidence in knowing “Who’s your Daddy?”
  • Deuteronomy 28:13 “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.” We have been created with purpose, on purpose, and for purposes that glorify God and draw men to Him.

At this time of year when we celebrate Christmas, please don’t forget what the celebration is truly about. As much as I love giving and receiving presents, Christmas is much more important than the temporal things we seek and celebrate. The birth of Jesus was the best present ever given to man. We have worth because God declared it and Jesus shared it. I pray that you and your family have a blessed holiday season…and don’t forget the bottom line: You have worth because of God’s love.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes