Seek First To Understand

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Seek First To Understand dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone did that one thing? Think about the wars that would be avoided, the race relations that would be healed, and the families that would be restored.

I heard a man speak about this very thing and he was talking about why some people can’t communicate. They choose not to listen. If you really want to get to the heart of racial issues, we need to be asking people of other races what it is like for them to live in America…then shut up and just listen.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars, but what if we simply learn to listen to those who oppose us? What if we seek to understand them first rather than just write them off as an enemy?

One of the biggest raps that Christians have against them is that they are judgmental. Jesus was only harsh to one group of people in the Bible….the Pharisees. They knew the Scriptures very well, and yet they were far from the truth. He called them a brood of Vipers!

Having discussions with people who have opposing points of view has to be done differently if we expect different outcomes. Think about a controversial topic like gun control. The question is not about whether guns are good or bad. The real question is, “How do we responsibly deal with guns in this country?” That is a question that opposing sides could actually have some dialog over, right? Find some common ground and get creative with how to solve the problem rather than just believing someone is right and someone is wrong. This process could be applied to pretty much any hot topic, but it would require that both sides agree to truly listen and understand. At the end, we still may have to agree to disagree.

We all live in a world full of confusion. There are always things that surface to give people ammunition to argue their point. My hope and prayer as we get ready to enter a new year is that we all learn the art of listening.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Homestead

Posted in Business, Motivational

Homestead dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1The homestead exemption that the Government offers you is great and gives you tax breaks on your dwelling place; however, here are a couple of things you may not know:

  • The homestead exemption is not a one and done deal. If you move, you have to reapply for a homestead exemption. It is based on your dwelling, not on you. I was aware of this one, but only because my CPA explained it to me many years ago.
  • Did you know about the age 65 exemption that supplements the homestead exemption? This is HUGE as it uses the year you turned 65 to set the baseline for taxes. There is a ceiling that your taxes will never go over based upon that baseline number….with the exception of the Hospital District Taxes. Those have no cap…sorry. Not sure what it is in your state, but it is worth a phone call to you county tax assessor to find out what your state offers.

By applying for the homestead exemption you get tax breaks. Add to that the age 65 exemption and you put a cap on your taxes. That is pretty cool for us senior citizens.

You might be thinking, “That is all well and good, but I turned 65 last year, or the year before that, or 15 years ago.” He is some good news (again…this is here in Texas). You can automatically roll back one year, and they allow you to request however many years it was that you turned 65. There is no guarantee that the review board will grant you the full rollback, but even if you get to roll back one year, that is a great thing here in Texas where the prices of real estate seem to be going crazy with the thousands of people moving here every month.

I hope this will help you or someone you know. It is going to make a big difference for me and my wife. For anyone that is 65 or older, this is a huge benefit that you need to take advantage of.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Lead or Get Out of the Way

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Lead or Get Out of the Way dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Is there anything more frustrating than a leader who won’t or can’t lead?  It has to be right up there on the scale of things that drive people crazy. You have probably known a few people like that in your lifetime…you know, the people that have no desire to be there and are just waiting for happy hour.

Not sure why people who hate to lead take positions of leadership, but they do every day.  It is probably for the status or the money…or both. The sad truth is that they are not doing anyone (including themselves) a favor.

Signs you are a poor leader:

  • You won’t make decisions in a timely fashion.
  • You expect everyone to kiss your ring as they pass you.
  • You don’t take responsibility for your own decisions.
  • You refuse to give credit to those that work with you.
  • You don’t know what the mission statement is.
  • You don’t have a clear vision of where you or anyone else is going.
  • You make excuses and deflect blame which you KNOW is ultimately yours.
  • You don’t value those that support you on the front lines.
  • You put your needs first and foremost.
  • You neither know nor recognize your own limitations.

If this describes YOU, please do EVERYONE a favor and get out of the way! There is a Proverb that says, “For lack of vision, the people perish.” Don’t let that be your legacy.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Cooties

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Cooties dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1The other day I had two 3rd graders come up to my desk as I was working on the next lesson for the day. They immediately pointed fingers at each other and started blaming one another for starting it. I looked at both of them and said, “I know what is going on here. You LIKE each other!”  LOL.  “Ewwwwwwww. Noooooooooooo” came the cry from both of them. They looked at each other, shrugged, and went back to their desks.

The teacher that was working with me laughed and said, “There is a lot of truth to that.” That is when I realized that Cooties are really a GOOD thing. We were always led to believe that if someone had Cooties, we were to avoid them like the plague. The truth is, we ALL have Cooties. Too bad it takes hormones to kick in for us to realize that what I am saying is true.

I watched a couple of 6th grade kids in the lunchroom. They were giggling as I walked up and she whispered to me, “We are holding hands under the table.”  It was sweet and reminded me of that age and Darlene Willis, my first crush. Darlene had this long red hair and she had this magical way of making my stomach flip…in a good way. We held hands in church (under the hymnal…of course). I sweat bullets getting the courage up to do THAT.

Once the Cooties truly start to grow, those things in the opposite sex that made us mad now make us crazy.  LOL. A guy can be standing outside, looking off into the distance (probably wondering what his Mom is making for dinner tonight), and he runs his hands through his hair. The girls nearby swoon and giggle at how “dreamy” he is.

Or, take the girl who is walking down the hallway past a person of interest. She stops for a moment, casts a sideways glance and grins just slightly as if to say “Hi.” This, of course, hits him like a thunderbolt. He is like the deer in the headlights and he does not know how to respond except to give a nervous wave and a slight smile in return.

And so the dance begins. The attraction was there all along, we just did not know it was Cooties. Next time you have two young kids arguing and blaming one another, try pointing out to them that they really LIKE one another. It immediately stops the argument and gives all of you a great laugh. Cooties….who knew?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

What I’ve Learned From Donald Trump (So Far)

Posted in Business, Motivational

What Ive Learned From Donald Trump So Far dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Whether you love Donald Trump or hate him, one thing we can agree upon: We can all learn some things from him. Here are a few things I have learned from him so far:

  • Dream BIG. Nobody on the planet gave Mr. Trump a snowball chance in July in winning the Presidency….and yet, he stunned the world by winning.
  • Don’t believe the media and the pollsters. They have their own agenda much of the time and are not just reporting the facts. This of course does not apply to ALL journalists, but it seems that so many of them are breeding fear and negativity that it becomes very difficult to know who is telling the truth anymore.
  • If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to? One thing is for sure, Mr. Trump is confident in his own abilities and the outcomes.
  • Anyone born in America can grow up to be President. You don’t have to be a politician. In fact, it is probably going to be a great asset that Mr. Trump has no debts to pay to the Washington insiders.
  • In this day of electronics, be careful what you say and what you do. It is probably being taped by someone and could come back to bite you.
  • Don’t let the failures of the past hold you back from walking out your destiny. Mr. Trump has failed on many fronts in his life and yet he has continued to forge forward to reach the top office in the USA and arguably in the world.
  • Surround yourself with trusted advisors who can help clarify the decisions to be made. His addition of Mike Pence as VP was brilliant. Governor Pence is well grounded and a solid addition to the Cabinet. Even when Mr. Trump had his show, The Apprentice, he had his daughter and son to counsel him in the board room. Don’t be surprised to see his kids move into the political arena in the near future. I can see Ivanka running for the Presidency someday. His sons are both sharp young men as well and could probably have positions of prominence at some point.

My prayer for the country is that we come together now, put aside our differences, and work together to build a better America. Let’s give him a chance to succeed.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Trouble With Teamwork

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Trouble With Teamwork  dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1The trouble with teamwork…regardless of how old you are: To get things done you will inevitably work with someone you don’t like. That can be difficult, to say the least. As an educator, I constantly have to remind kids they don’t have to LIKE the person they are working with, but they do have to show RESPECT to one another if they have any hope of getting the project done. Liking is optional. Resect is mandatory.

When you look at it objectively it makes sense, doesn’t it? Show respect. Do your job. It is pretty simple. If only people would do that. I wonder how that would affect our Gross National Product? If we could put feelings aside for the good of the school, company, or organization that we are trying to work for, wouldn’t life be better?  Wouldn’t we all be happier, more productive, and less stressed? The obvious answer is, “Yes!”

OK. So I have to ask: Why do we continue to live with dysfunctional teams as something acceptable? Here are a few things I have identified over the years that kill team spirit:

  • You have a leader, manager, director, or owner (whatever you want to call the guy or gal in charge) that won’t lead. They refuse to make decisions on things that matter. They get caught in the weeds of everyday issues.  They get don’t know how or are not willing to delegate, and, they won’t take responsibility for the outcomes. Any or all of those things will kill the spirit of the team. It starts at the top.
  • You have a leader that won’t give credit where credit is due. They are quick to blame and slow to give kudos.  They tend to take credit for the things that go right and blame others when things go wrong. That will deflate any team quickly.
  • One bad apple spoils the bunch. If you as the person in charge allow someone who is negative, lazy, or irresponsible to remain integrally involved in the day to day operations of the business, eventually they will taint the rest and the group will come to believe that they are right in their warped views because nobody had the courage to confront them or correct them. By the way, just become someone does not agree with you does not make them negative or wrong. You need to listen to them and objectively hear what they have to say. They could be right. It takes courage to speak up when everyone else is remaining silent. My advice to those with a complaint is: Don’t complain unless you can offer a possible solution. Complaining with no solution alternative is just whining and nobody likes a whiner.
  • Poor training and lack of support will kill team spirit. Make sure the people are properly trained and you support them through the process so when problems arise, they are not tossed under the bus as the one to blame. They need to be supported even when mistakes happen. By the way…mistakes WILL happen as long as humans are involved. If you are a wise Manager, you will support your team through the good times and the bad times. Make sure your team knows not just what to do, but how to do it before you give them full responsibility.
  • Lack of forgiveness will put a wedge in any team. If someone has a grudge against another person it has to be addressed.  Regardless of the willingness to accept responsibility or not, they need to forgive the infraction and move on. It is a matter of looking beyond the feelings and focusing on the goal for the good of ALL concerned. If you are determined to dwell on petty things, then you can expect petty results.

Teams will only work when the team functions on all cylinders. Keep your team fine-tuned and in good running condition if you expect to get where you want to go.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Sometimes He Moves The Mountain

Posted in Poetry

Sometimes He Moves The Mountain dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1

Sometimes He moves the mountain

And sometimes He moves me

Sometimes He calms the raging storm

And sometimes He calms me

Sometimes He shows me what to do

And sometimes He says, “Have faith.”

Sometimes He asks the impossible

And sometimes he says,”Wait.”

Sometimes He gives me obstacles

And sometimes the road is smooth

Sometimes He helps me win the game

And sometimes He lets me lose

Sometimes He gives the key to me

And sometimes He locks the door

Sometimes He says, “That is enough.”

Sometimes He says, “Give more.”

Sometimes I wonder where He is

And sometimes I feel alone

Sometimes I wonder if He cares

And sometimes I just moan

But God is there on the mountain top

He’s there in the valley too

He’s there when the waters overwhelm

He’s there when I’m feeling blue

He’s there when the evil one’s tempting me

He’s there when I‘ve fallen away

He’s there to hold me close to Him

He’s there both night and day

He’s there when I am questioning

He’s there when my faith is small

He’s there when I have given up

He’s there whenever I call

He’s there when darkness has me blind

He’s there to light my way

He’s there to love me no matter what

He IS there come what may

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Funny Things Kids Have Said To Me

Posted in Funny

Superman dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1

As you probably know, I go by Superman at school, so many of the remarks made to me have to do with my claim to be a Super Hero.

  • “Isn’t Superman supposed to be young?” To that I replied, “Hey…I am 111 years old. What do you expect? But I look good, right???”  Once kid replied to me, “I didn’t think you were over 80!”  Thanks a lot, Buddy. LOL.
  • “Isn’t Superman supposed to have Abs?” I just looked at him sideways and said, “What are you trying to tell me???”  I puff out my chest…but it does not help much. LOL.
  • “Isn’t Superman supposed to have hair?” To that I show them the hair on the back of my head.  “See…I have hair!!!” LOL.
  • “If you are Superman, FLY!!!!” To that I reply, “I NEVER fly without my cape.” Then they ask, “Where is your cape???” I tell them, “It is at home being washed by my wife….Wonder Woman.”  Then I give them the double thumbs up. LOL.
  • “If you are Superman, use your laser eyes!!!” To that I reply, “I did use my laser eyes recently. I was looking in the mirror and look what it did to my head!!!”  LOL.
  • “Show us some super powers!!!” I show them two things. One is I thump my cheek and make this sound like water dripping. They are amazed that I can make this sound for some reason.  LOL. Then the other thing I do is twist my arm around to where it is turned completely around. Not sure why I can do this.  It is a gift.  LOL.
  • One kid came up to me when I was sitting at the teacher’s desk reading over some of the assignments. He poked my belly with his finger and asked, “Are you pregnant?”  LOL. As my mind was swimming on how to respond properly to this child, one of his classmates came to my rescue when he exclaimed, “Boys don’t have babies, GIRLS do!” Whew!  I dodged a bullet with that one.  LOL. That comment gave me incentive to go on a diet and I lost 25 lbs.
  • I play music for the kids regularly and one kid asked, “How do you know about OUR music.”  I just looked over my glasses at him and said, “Do you know who I am???” Then I revealed my Superman T shirt….LOL. The funny thing is, I really do know their music better than they do. It freaks them out when I can sing the lyrics to some of their songs.

One thing I know for sure about kids, you NEVER know what they are going to say.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Knock Knock

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Knock Knock dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1No joke. Are you knocking?  It is not your job to open the door. God does that. It is your job to knock and keep on knocking till you find the right door.

Many years ago my wife was married to another man. They were in the jewelry business and were constantly frustrated that the wax patterns used to design jewelry were brittle and broke easily. They had very short shelf life and were just too fragile, and yet everyone in the world used the same stuff to carve their patterns.

They got the brilliant idea of mixing plastic and wax to make it pliable and give it more versatility. The only problem is….how do you mix oil and water? Neither one of them were chemists. They just had a dream of inventing something that the world needed, so they set out to do their experiments in a crockpot.

Thousands of attempts later they were frustrated and her husband threw up his hands and gave up. My wife, however, had one last ditch effort that she thought was worth a try. They were using some DuPont chemicals. She decided to call DuPont and ask for the head chemist and solicit his help. She called, and the next thing you know she is talking to the head chemist!

She explained that they had a small jewelry business in Texas and they were trying to develop a new product using some DuPont chemicals, but they were stuck. They asked him if he would help, and he asked if he could see the latest work they had done. They sent him the experiments and he replied with three possible solutions. The first one failed. The second one failed….but the third one WORKED.

That was the birth of Plasto-wax. That invention changed forever how jewelry patterns are made around the world. That provided not just a business but a solution to a problem that every jeweler in the world faced daily.  What would have happened if they had not continued to knock?

What dream do you have? Keep knocking. Don’t give up. Dreams do come true for those that do.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Rest Don’t Wrestle

Posted in Motivational

Rest Dont Wrestle dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1I don’t know how your brain works, but sometimes I have a hard time shutting mine off. Sometimes my brain keeps me awake at night thinking of things that need to be done or problems that need to be addressed.

We live in an age where there is plenty to worry about. You pick up the paper, turn on the news, or surf the web and there is an abundance of things that are going cra-cra (that means crazy in case you don’t have kids…LOL). We do live in perilous times, but haven’t things always been a bit crazy?

I think the difference is that we live in an electronic age where we see everything going on in the world as it happens. You can’t walk down a street without cameras observing you from a dozen different angles. That should only worry you if you are a crook. The days of getting away with things is pretty much gone because of cell phones too. Now people are capturing acts of violence, theft, and general mayhem without anyone ever knowing it….until it shows up on YouTube.

You have probably heard the first part of the Serenity Prayer, but you may not have heard all of it, so here it is:

Serenity Prayer

- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

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 great advice for all of us. Quit worrying and learn to rest in His peace, despite what you see and how you feel. After all, the only real peace in this world is His peace. Seek that. Embrace that. Rest in that.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes