Prescription for Prayer

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Prescription for Prayer dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorWith all the things going on in the world today, I don’t know how anyone survives without prayer. There are catastrophes galore, unspeakable acts of evil abounding, and chaos seems to be the theme of the day.

This week I was reminded of how much we need to pray. I was at school and one of the ladies who works there was quite despondent. I know her to be a jubilant person most of the time, so I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong. When I asked her why she was upset, she did not want to speak. I could tell she was fighting back the tears. I told her it was OK, and gently asked her again to tell me what was wrong.

She said she had relatives in Puerto Rico and had not been able to reach them for the past 4 days because of the hurricane. She is just one of many teachers we have on staff that have family in Puerto Rico and Mexico which have both succumbed recently to natural disasters. I simply told her what she already knew: prayer is the answer. God is still in control. The best thing we can do for those in peril and for ourselves is to pray! She agreed and thanked me for the encouragement.

I saw her later that day and asked her how she was doing. She smiled and said she was feeling much better. Sometimes we just have to be reminded of the power of prayer. Worry is a terrible thing and can weigh down the heart of the mightiest warrior. Prayer is a powerful weapon when you have everything to lose and no sign of hope ahead. I realize it takes faith as well, and that faith has to be in God. Only He can change the course of a river or the heart of a King….but he can do it. With Him, everything is possible.

Whatever you are facing today, turn it over to God. I have included a prescription for you from Him. It is available to you right now. You won’t even have to wait in line at the pharmacy! Just accept it, use it, and trust God for the results.

P.S. God’s Son paid for it.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Smile

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Smile dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI smile a lot. I can’t help it. When I was in High School a kid nicknamed me “Smiley!”  LOL. I did not take offense to it. Smiles are truly magical. If you don’t believe it, put on a big smile and just walk around a store and see what happens. People perk up and smile back. Of course there are always the ones who are determined to be grumpy…and I pray for them. :o )

When teaching children, I learned a long time ago to look them in the eye, smile, and call them by name. Those three things get their attention and let them know that they matter to you. It is disarming to look at someone who is genuinely smiling at you. They know you care when you smile.

I use the same technique on fellow teachers, the Principals, the front office staff, the janitors, the kitchen helpers. It is great to see them light up. I had a parent tell me yesterday she missed me when I was not there in the cafeteria to help with the kids because I brought LIFE to the kids. Wow. That was so humbling for me to hear, and yet I believe it starts with a smile.

I am one of the ones chosen to do the dreaded drive line (helping kids get out of the car when they arrive at school), and also the dreaded cafeteria duty (keeping around 700 kids in line, in their seats, eating quietly, and not hitting each other…LOL). I use music on the drive line and it works like magic. Some kids start dancing. Some come and give me hugs. Almost all of them look at me and SMILE. Pretty cool way to start the day, don’t you think? In the cafeteria I stand at the door and greet them one by one as they come in. I don’t use the music then because we are trying to get them calm for lunch, but I do still smile, call them by name if I know it, and give high fives and fist bumps.

Try smiling more and you will find yourself grumbling less. It is a key to unlocking all relationships.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Attitude Is One Thing We Can Change

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Attitude Is One Thing We Can Change dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

I heard a sermon recently and the pastor was talking about our attitude. He said, “Attitude is one of the main keys to unlocking joy in your life.” I believe he hit the nail on the head with that one. It has been said that “Attitude determines altitude.” I like that as well. Too many of us allow negative attitudes to limit how high, how fast, or how far we will go.

Why do we give negative attitudes the power to rule us? Our attitude matters. Somehow we have managed to lose sight of that.

Here are a few things I have learned about attitude that may affect yours in a positive way:

  • Learning to be grateful is one of the most powerful attitudes you can develop. When you learn to be truly grateful for what you have, no matter how great or how small or how difficult, you have learned the secret to being content.
  • Comparing ourselves to others is a losing battle. There will always be someone who has more than you. You don’t know what they had to sacrifice to get what they have, and yet you want what they have and you want it now. Develop an attitude of, “I am going to work my tail off to get what I want.” Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Hard work will pay off if you learn to persevere.
  • Little things matter when it comes to attitude. Say “Thank you.” Say “Please.” Say “I love you.” Say, “I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” Compliment others and mean it! Do those little things consistently and it will put you on a positive path every day.
  • Take control of your attitude or it will control you.
  • Attitudes are habitual. Why not be habitually happy instead of bitter, resentful, remorseful, and angry?  It is your choice.

Determine today to change your attitude regardless of what it is, and make it better. You can go places that you never dreamed possible if you do.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

 

The Flea Song

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Flea Song dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorTeaching is kind of like being a janitor with a key ring that has 50 keys on it. He has to know which key works on which door. It is the same thing with teaching. We have to figure out which key unlocks the hearts and minds of our kids. That is not an easy task even on our best days.

This week I was assisting a substitute teacher in 3rd grade. She was having a rough time when I came in. I watched the chaos for a moment and asked some of the kids who were wandering around the class what they were doing. They said they were waiting for their next assignment.

I asked the teacher if I had her permission to teach these kids who were finished a song. It was basically to give her a break and give them something to do. She said, “OK.” The song is one I learned when I was around 12 years old and I still remember the song and who taught it to me. The song is one where I give them the line and then they have to repeat it back to me verbatim. It gets progressively harder and really challenges their listening capabilities. Here is how it goes:

Flea

Flea fly

Flea fly flow

Veestay!

Pamalama camalama camalama veestay

Oh no no no no not the veestay!

Veestay!

Eeenie meanie disaleenie ah ooh ooh maleenie

Acha chacha coomaracha ah ooh ooh

Eeenie meanie disaleenie ah ooh ooh maleenie, acha chacha coomaracha ah ooh ooh.

Ish bibli oaten doaten, bo bo padeeten dotin, why not, and SHHHHHH.

Obviously it is just a silly song, but the kids LOVED it and giggled all through it. There is a tune that goes with it along with some simple hand movements. I came back to the class the next day to be their sub and guess what they wanted me to do with them? The Flea Song!  LOL.

Here is what I learned about sharing this song with them:

  • Kids engage more readily when they have fun.
  • They love to laugh, be silly, and learn at the same time.
  • They are not afraid of a challenge.

The substitute teacher I was assisting asked me, “What language is that?”  I had to laugh. I told her it is just a fun song that teaches kids phonics and how to really listen!

That “key” did not work on the whole class by the way. Some kids were still off doing their own thing, but now I know that this key works on some of the kids. I still have to find the right key for the other ones.

The good thing for them is I do have a master key for all of them, and that is love.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Crazy

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Texas High School Coaching Salaries dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorPeople outside of Texas have long suspected that Texans were crazy. Well, we have come out and given everyone proof today that we have lost our minds. The front page of the paper today showed that we are paying high school football coaches twice as much as we are paying our teachers. One affluent district around Austin is paying their head coach $155,156. That is $30,000 more than the Principal makes, and three times more than what the teachers make. Wow. Just wow. We have lost our minds, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong. I love football, but I also love teaching and have a great respect for what teachers do to prepare kids for life. Should we really be paying a coach two to three times more than the teacher that is teaching your kid English, Math, Science, or History, Music, Art, etc.? Really, is football THAT important to us as a state?

I don’t fault coaches for making six figures. I fault tax payers for letting this happen and not giving equal pay to the thousands of other teachers who are educating their kids. Oh, I get it. We can’t “afford” to give everyone a raise to six figures. Um hum; right. I think we find a way to justify whatever we want to do as a society.

I am just shaking my head at the absurdity of the situation and wondering how this happened in the first place. How did anyone in authority have the audacity to think this up? Football has always been a religion here in Texas. Sadly, it distorts for our youth what matters in life.

Anyone who has been an athlete realizes that there is life after football, and you had better be prepared for that. It sure helps if you can read, speak, write, comprehend math, and know your science and history.

To all my coaching friends, this is not an indictment against you or anything you have done. I love you guys and I love the sport of football. I just think we need to put it in perspective with the rest of education. Who knows, maybe I am the crazy one.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

To Cope

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

To Cope dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorEverywhere I look I see people trying to cope, yet so many seem to be going under despite their best efforts to stay afloat. Life for them is a roller coaster ride that they can’t escape.

To cope, you have to have hope. To have hope, you have to have something to believe in beyond your own capabilities. Hope is the anchor we have in the storms of life. It is what gives us a reason to go on despite how dark the horizon appears or how fearful we may feel inside.

People turn to many things to help them cope. Substance abuse masks the pain, but it always returns when the medication wears off. People turn to affairs or casual sex to fill the void of loneliness. Unfortunately, that does not cure the underlying problem. Compulsive buying or binge eating are also common problems that people use to try and cope. The problem is that you can’t buy peace and lasting happiness. Binge eating will just make you overweight and shorten your life.

Coping in a healthy way requires two things:

  • Faith your fears. Holding on to fear will kill your hope.

            Face Everything And Rise or Forget Everything And Run. It is your choice!

  • Quit worrying about things that are out of your control. What good does worrying do? None!

You may be familiar with the first stanza of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, but did you know there is a second stanza? Here is the full prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

That is how I cope and that is my hope.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Stop Complaining

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Stop Complaining dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachIf you are like me, you probably get tired of being around people who complain. Whiners tend to dwell on the worst case scenarios: “I will probably get fired, so why try? I hate this marriage. I am out of here! Why can’t I get a break? Why is everyone on MY case?” Blah blah blah.

Am I wrong? Don’t you know someone who fits that bill? You either have them in your family, your work place, or in your circle of friends. Here is the problem with complainers…they are contagious. They are not happy wallowing in their grief alone. They will tell anyone willing to listen about all of the injustices they have suffered until someone is sucked into their misery.

If you are dealing with a complainer in your life, here are a few suggestions you might want to consider:

  • Try to clarify the reality of the situation so that they can see it for what it really is…not what they imagine or worry it could be.
  • Help them to start looking at things differently. It begins with learning to be grateful. They have to learn how to be thankful for what they have and learn to be content regardless of the circumstances. He who maintains a positive attitude in a bad circumstance wins.
  • Sometimes people who are bent on complaining are so warped in their perception you literally have to quit trying to convince them it is going to be OK. You can pray for them, but if they won’t listen to reason, why are you wasting your breath? I do understand the desire to not give up on someone, but you don’t want to cross the line from supporting someone to enabling them. That is a fine line that you do not want to cross.
  • Help them develop the habit of positive thinking. Words matter. If all they do is continually spout negative things over their lives, they are going to reap what they sow; they will either speak blessings or curses.
  • Quitting an attitude of complaints may require something radical. It might mandate a change of friends. Negative friends will pollute their thinking. You might have to draw some hard lines for them to adhere to for everyone’s sake, including their own. If you want to know what someone is like, spend time with the friends they hang with. We are all a reflection of the people we call friends.

I hope that we can start living with an attitude of gratitude. Quit complaining, and start living the life we were intended to live. Be thankful not for the circumstances, but in all circumstances. Life is too short to live with a glass half empty. Opportunity is in the other half of the glass.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Language of Kids

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Language of Kids dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIf you have ever taught kids, you know what I am talking about. You are giving a lesson to the class and you ask them if they understand. You have 27 heads nodding yes, and you know that most of them have no clue. They are nodding yes because they don’t want to look stupid, they want to fit in, and they want you to be proud of them.

Kids have an inherent need to feel accepted. They want to know that they belong, they matter, and their voice is heard no matter if it is a whisper or a shout. Kids want to know that someone really cares about them. Sadly, many kids do not get positive reinforcement at home. Many of them are ignored or abused. Many are made to feel that they are not a blessing…but a curse…and then they get dressed and come to school.

The language of kids is really simple. If you want to reach kids, you have to show them you care. You have to listen to them, engage them, encourage them, and have fun with them. You have to laugh with them, cry with them, and above all…be there for them. Kids are really pretty simple people. If you give them just an ounce of encouragement and support, they will grow, but if you pour out encouragement and support for them, they will thrive…even when they don’t get it at home.

You may be the home they have been longing for. Give kids your best because some day they will understand and appreciate what you have done. You may not be around to appreciate it, but your kids, your grandchildren, and their kids may be the very ones to benefit from the seeds you plant today in the hearts of the kids you teach.

The language that kids speak is really very simple. It is the language of love.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Posted in Funny, Relationships

Kids Say the Darndest Things dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorWhen I was growing up Art Linkletter had a show with that title. It was hilarious. He simply interviewed little kids and waited for them to say what was on their mind…and it inevitably caught him and the audience off guard. If you have never seen the show just YouTube it and watch a few episodes. You can’t help but laugh.

Below are a few comments I have had from kids and my comeback to them:

  • In relation to my claiming to be Superman, I have had many questions:
  1. “If you are Superman, you can fly! FLY!” I just tell them “I never fly without my cape.”
  2. “Where is your cape?” I tell them “It is at home with my wife…Wonder Woman.” That always gets a laugh and look of disbelief. I just give them a big grin and a double thumbs up!
  3. “Superman has hair. Where is your hair?” I just point out that I have some hair on my head…not much, but I have some. LOL.
  4. “Superman has muscles. Where are your abs?” OK, I admit it…that one hurt. LOL. First I ask them “What you are trying to say?”  Then I just tell them, “I am working under cover, so don’t tell anybody.” Apparently I have to start working out.
  5. “Use your laser eyes!” I just tell them, “I can’t because it is a fire hazard and against the school rules.” Then I tell them, “Besides, that is what happened to my head. I was looking in the mirror one day and my laser eyes burned off my hair!” That usually makes them drop their jaws.
  6. “Batman BEAT you in the movie!” I just let them know, “That was just a movie. Batman and I are really best friends.” :o )
  7. “Superman doesn’t wear glasses.” I have to educate them. “Clark Kent does wear glasses, and he becomes Superman.”
  8. “Does Kryptonite really make you weak?” I tell them, “Yes…and Wonder Woman is my Kryptonite.” That usually gets a few giggles. LOL.
  9. “Superman has super powers. What can YOU do?” I tell them, “Be very quiet.” Then I thump my cheek and made a sound like water dropping. It is very funny. They are mystified by it and go around the rest of the day thumping their cheek and trying to duplicate the sound. In all the years I have done this I have only had one kid who could duplicate the sound…and he was a 5th grader. I also have the ability to invert my arms because I am double jointed. So, between the two…that is enough super powers to usually make my point.
  10. “Superman is not old!” To that I respond…”I am the ORIGINAL Superman!  I just put on makeup and a wig for the movies.”
  11. “When are you going to fly for us?” I tell them, “Come to school on Sunday and you will see me fly over the school. I will wave at you!” Of course, they protest that there is no school on Sunday…but at least they know I tried. :o )

*Note to anyone wanting to be a super hero: You had better have answers to all their questions!

Other questions and comments:

  • One little boy looked at me and said, “You have hair in your nose!” I pointed out that everyone has hair in their nose…including HIM. LOL. He was totally disgusted by the mere idea of it.
  • “Are you pregnant?” Thankfully, I did not have to answer that one because another first grade boy told him, “Boys don’t have babies! Girls do!”  By the way, that was my incentive to lose 25 lbs…no kidding. LOL.
  • “What does gay mean?” I tell them it means “Happy!” At least it used to mean that.
  • “What are those brown spots on your arms?” I tell them, “Aliens tried to abduct me and I had to fight them off! Or…it could just be from old age. I am older than dirt!”
  • In relation to my age, I tell them “I am 112 years old.” Then I add, “But hey, I look good, right?” They get wide-eyed and nod yes. I tell them I was born in 1905. Usually there is at least one kid in the group who does the math and informs the rest of them that I really am 112 years old. LOL.

I think I need to bring this show back and interview kids. If you know anyone that produces TV shows, have them contact me. I already have lots of material.  :o )  Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Race

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Race dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI don’t understand people who say, “Life is not a competition.” The problem with that statement is that the evidence is overwhelmingly opposed to it. We compete on so many things in life that the list is seemingly endless. We compete to get into the right school, get on a team, stay on a team, and beat opposing teams. Men compete to win the hand of a fair maiden. Women compete to win the heart of their man. We compete to get jobs, keep our jobs, and then excel in our jobs. We compete in business to have the next best widget. We begin by learning to compete with ourselves; then we take it to the next level by competing with others. Even Heaven had a competition between God and the devil. I thank God that He did not just give up His throne to the enemy of our souls. That battle is still being played out.

In every completion there are winners and losers. Everyone does not get a ribbon. I realize that there are exceptions…like little kids and people with special needs…but even special needs people have their Olympics to teach them how to win.

If you don’t learn how to play the game, you’ll be looking for someone to blame. Winning is a habit, and so is losing, and habits are learned behaviors. Competition is not bad, and losing is not fatal. Just because we lose at something does not make us losers. We only become losers when we quit…give up…and start blaming our circumstance, our competition, or even ourselves. Placing blame is not the issue. Learning the lesson is the issue. Every competition is an opportunity to learn. Whether you win or lose, you learn more about yourself, your competition, your company, your mate, etc.

Find the lesson in every competition and you begin to understand the rules of the game. When you negotiate, you look for a win-win situation, right? The truth is that even then you want to come out on top more than your competition. Think of life as a chess game. You have a limited amount of moves and resources. You have opponents who seek to win as well. Learn to think ahead. Don’t just consider you next move, but consider what move you will make after that, and then the one after that. Consider the consequences of each move and by all means…know your competition. To know your enemy is to know your next move.

Enjoy the game.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes