The Best Teacher

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Best Teacher dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1

Life is filled with teachers. Some of them are great and some of them are (to put it politely) terrible. The real question here is: which ones do YOU learn from?

These are just a few of the teachers I have met and some of what I learned:

  • Strengths and weaknesses. Know them in yourself first and foremost. Know your weaknesses, but work on your strengths.
  • Past experience. Learn from your mistakes. If you don’t, you simply get to retake the test.
  • Pain and suffering. This is one of the greatest teachers I have had. It has a way of focusing my mind and heart towards God like nothing else.
  • Success. I learned that it is about relationships and not things.
  • Failure. Failing does not make us a failure. It simply points us in a different direction. We only become a failure if we refuse to learn the lessons.
  • Love. This is the greatest teacher I have had by far. Learning to love God first and with all my heart, and then to love others in the way that God loves them puts things in perspective.
  • Fear. This is a terrible teacher and yet one I have learned from time and time again. If I don’t face my fears, they become my reality and I miss the blessings God intended for me.
  • Peace. I love this teacher. Shalom is at the core of my foundation. When I am faced with the storms of life, I find my Shalom in the Prince of Peace.
  • War. If there is anything I have learned from history is that if we don’t learn from it, then we are doomed to repeat it. While war is sometimes the only way to confront evil, I always pray for peace.
  • Worry. This teacher has taught me what a waste it is to worry. Nothing good comes from it. Nothing!
  • Self-esteem. I have learned that I have to know and respect myself. If I have no self-esteem and don’t believe in myself, why should I expect anyone else to?
  • Pride and humility. I learned that pride is repulsive to all except the one who has it, and humility is embraced by all except the ones who abuse it.
  • Time. This is a great teacher in that we all have the same amount of it. It is what we do with it that becomes the teacher.
  • Dogs. I love dogs. They teach me all the time to love and live life in the moment. Enjoy the simple things. Stick your head out the window…preferably when you are not driving. LOL.
  • Kids. Great wisdom is found in the things that kids say and do. They have a simplicity and innocence that I love being around.
  • Control. I realize I control very little when all is said and done. I have to simply do my best and have faith in God through the test.
  • Change. It is inevitable. I can’t change that. Another thing we can’t change is other people. People will resist if they see you are trying to change them.
  • Judging others. This is a terrible teacher and many are hurt by this one. If we just focus on getting the beam out of our own eyes, we have our hands full.
  • Money. Love God and people. Use money. Never get the two confused.
  • Jesus. He was and is the ultimate teacher. He sums up everything above. He taught using parables and often answered questions with a question forcing people to think deeper. He taught servant leadership, sacrifice, empathy, encouragement, obedience, humility, kindness and justice. He modeled the ability to live without fear, how to live a life full of faith, and ultimately…how to love.

I have found the greatest teachers are simply the ones I have learned from, and I meet them every day.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Expect To See The Hand Of God

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Expect To See The Hand Of God dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator3From time to time I have someone tell me that God is just not showing up in their lives. I feel the frustration in their words. I don’t know about you, but I wish I could get God on the phone and do some Facetime with Him. Unfortunately, that is not how God has chosen to communicate with us, despite all the technology that we have at hand.

One thing I have learned is that as I press in to God…seeking Him wholeheartedly…I see the hand of God move. I seek the face of God in a variety of ways:

  • Reading God’s Word. The Bible says it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. If we don’t read it, how can we expect to really know God and what He wants for us?
  • Having regular prayer time to speak with Him. For me it is best if it is quiet and free from distractions like the phone, TV, computer, dogs barking, etc. Early morning is one time I know that I am going to be free from all of that.
  • Praising Him. The Scriptures say that God inhabits the praises of His people, so if I want to be in His presence, I have to learn to praise Him. There are two times to praise God: 1. When you feel like it. 2. When you don’t.
  • Corporate worship and fellowship. There is something special about being with a group of like-minded believers studying the Scriptures and praising God. They are a source of encouragement to one another and help each other to weather the storms of life. God thought enough about the church to describe it as “the Bride of Christ.” Scripture tells us not to neglect gathering together as some have chosen to do. God knew we needed the encouragement of fellow believers.

There is nothing magical here. There is no formula for getting God to speak and move in your behalf. However, what we do have is a blueprint of different ways that God uses to speak to us. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I did not touch on Angels, Spouses, family and friends, strangers, circumstances, nature, etc., etc. There are countless ways that God speaks to us on a daily basis. We just have to tune in and pay attention.

My prayer for you as you read this is that God will give you new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and a new mind to understand the depth of love that He has for you, your family, and for all mankind. Seek the face of God with all that you have and all that you are. You WILL see the hand of God moving in your behalf. Expect it.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Worry is a Waste

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Worry Is A Waste dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Are you one of those people who love to imagine the worst things when it comes to the future? Have you ever wondered why you do this? Why do you dwell on what might happen in the future to the detriment of what is happening now?

Here are a few things I know about worry:

  • It robs you of the joy of the present. You will miss countless blessings going on right now if you focus on the “what ifs” of the future.
  • It accomplishes nothing good. It clutters your brain with useless information. It derails you from tasks at hand. It deflates your energy. It causes health problems. It harms other people because of the negativity attached to it. Need I go on?
  • Worry is rooted in fear. You have to identify that fear and confront it head on. If you are allowing worry to rule your thoughts and behavior, you will never have peace. If you don’t have peace in your life, what do you really have?
  • Worry is a habit….a bad one. Most people who worry do it on a regular basis. They have become accustomed to expecting the worst in life.
  • Worry can be replaced with faith. When you have faith in God and faith in yourself, it is like putting on a good pair of glasses. You just see things more clearly.

I understand that you may have things that have happened in your life that I could not possibly understand. I don’t claim to. I only know that worrying about them and what will happen tomorrow will do nothing positive for you. Don’t waste time and energy on things that may or may not happen. If you can do something to change your circumstances in a positive fashion, then by all means do it. If you can’t, let it go and move on. Life is too short to be stuck in reverse.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Respect and Love

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Respect and Love dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorRespect is often talked about in schools and business, but rarely is it tied to love. In my opinion, they are mutually dependent. I have seen people that claim to love someone and show no respect. Is that love? I think most of us can agree that love shows respect. As Mom used to say, “The proof is in the pudding.”

People have a confused view of love when they say one thing but do the opposite. Love has to have integrity and trust, does it not? My wife and I are not perfect by any means. We have our issues that we both have to work on, but one thing I think we do pretty well is show respect. In fact, the few times we have had a spat it typically involved a lack of respect by one or both of us.

Love is a fragile thing. It has to be nurtured and cared for. If you choose to disrespect someone, just be ready for the negative consequences. Lack of respect has cost people marriages, jobs, and even their lives. The question is, “If respect is so vital to our having a loving relationship with others, why don’t we freely give it?” Well, I don’t have a simple answer, but here are a few reasons I think people don’t give respect to others:

  • They have the attitude that they are right and others are wrong. People that have a need to be always right are some of the most difficult people in the world to work with and live with because you can’t reason with them.
  • They have a pride issue and can’t seem to bring themselves to a point of admitting that others deserve respect too. They don’t feel like the other person is worthy of their respect, so they simply choose not to give it.
  • They really don’t know how to show respect. It was not modeled for them growing up and they chose to be self-absorbed somewhere along the line. The rebellion has become their identity.
  • People who are unwilling to respect others have a deep wound that has never healed and in some cases has consumed who they are. The wound has become their identity, so they refuse to respect others in order to keep from hurting themselves again. Of course, the problem is only exacerbated with this attitude.

The next time you feel like disrespecting someone, count the cost.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Goliath

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Goliath dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator (2)Everyone has a giant or two that they have to face in order to experience their destiny. One of the reasons I love the story of David and Goliath is that the odds were totally stacked in favor of Goliath. On paper, David did not have a snowball chance in Texas of surviving the duel. David was the definite underdog, and yet he was the winner.

Here are a few lessons that we can all learn from the story:

  • In Goliath’s case, the over-confidence in his size and abilities turned out to be his downfall. Lesson one is: don’t overestimate your ability. I don’t care how big you are, how mean you are, or how many resources are at your disposal. Know your limitations and by all means, know your opponent.
  • In David’s case, he had been training for years in the wilderness. He had already killed a lion, a bear, and no telling what other wild creatures that tried to take his sheep. Lesson two is: if you go into battle fully prepared, your skills and experience can compensate for lack of physical weapons and armor. David was incredibly skillful with a simple slingshot. Be a skilled warrior.
  • In Goliath’s case, he was counting on his own strength and might. Lesson three is: don’t rely on your own strength. David had the strength of the Lord on his side. It does not get any better than that! If God is for you, who can be against you and survive? Nobody! You and God are a majority.
  • In David’s case, he did not let fear nor the taunting of others (including his oldest brother) dissuade him from the task at hand. Lesson four: fear neither people nor circumstances. He knew God was with him, and he knew his own skills. Because of that, there was absolutely nothing for him to fear. He did not run from his fear. When the army of Israel was running from what they feared, he ran directly to it.
  • In Goliath’s case, he thought his size, his armor, weapons, and experience would be what he needed to win. What he did not realize is that there was a spiritual battle going on simultaneously, and that battle had already been won by David. Nothing Goliath could wear would help him, and no weapon he used would hurt David. The hand of God was with David because he put God first and totally submitted to Him. Lesson five: put on the whole armor of God and you will be successful. It is not what you put on you, but what you put in you that matters.
  • Lesson six: both men went into the battle totally confident that they would win, yet only one of them would survive. Evil may win for a season and it may appear that all is lost, but good always triumphs in the end.

It does not matter how big the Goliath is that you are facing right now. Follow David’s example and you will prevail. Your destiny awaits you on the other side of your Goliath. Faith your fears.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Conflict

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Conflict Brings Clarity dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer educator 2Let’s face it, most people don’t like conflict. In fact, some people will literally run from it. But you know what? Conflict is not only a necessary part of life, it is GOOD for you!  Conflict brings clarity like nothing else can.

Managing conflict is possible if you keep these points in mind:

  • The conflict you are experiencing can bring you positive results. You may have to let that sink in, but good can and will come out of it if you allow it to.
  • Conflict is not something we can avoid in life. We will face conflict in many forms every day. Some of it will come from other people, some from the circumstances we face, and some from our own mind. So, expect it one way or the other and be prepared to respond vs react.
  • How does conflict bring clarity? It brings to mind solutions that otherwise might never cross your mind. The greater the conflict, the greater the clarity. Of course, everyone has their limits and everyone can be overcome at some point…but that point is much further than most of us like to admit. We are uniquely created to endure, adapt, and create solutions to incredible obstacles.
  • Conflict is not the source of stress. How you react to it is the source of stress. Some people will look at the same conflict and be invigorated and energized. What is the difference? The mindset, the attitude, and the determination to overcome. You can become the victim or the victor. That is up to you, regardless of the conflict.
  • Keep in mind that most conflicts are not for life. They are for a season. Everyone can fight the bear for a while.

If you are in a season of conflict, don’t give up. Don’t despair. Don’t quit. Learn the lessons, find solutions, and endure. The strength you will find from having endured will not only carry you further, it will encourage others who are watching how you respond. And trust me, someone is always watching.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Happiness

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Happiness dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1 (4)

I will be happy when:

  • I fall in love.
  • I get that promotion.
  • I win the lotto.
  • I feel good.
  • I win.
  • I lose weight.
  • I gain weight.
  • I get what I want.
  • I get that new car.
  • I get that new house.
  • I reach my destination.
  • When I am free.

The list is endless, but you get the point. If your happiness is based on these things, you will be waiting a long time and missing the opportunity to experience happiness along the way. The secret to happiness is simple: have a grateful heart. I never met a happy person who was ungrateful. They go hand-in-hand. Happiness is birthed in gratitude.

Focus on being thankful for the blessings that come your way no matter how small they are and see if you don’t experience a sense of peace, contentment, and happiness. Get in the habit of saying thank you to God and to others.

It is up to you. How is your day going to be spent? Are you going to worry about what you don’t have or the things that are happening to you? Or…are you going to learn the secret to happiness and give thanks. It is up to you.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Sticks and Stones Part 2

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Self Image dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Last year I wrote a blog called Sticks and Stones. It was about the power of our words. Yesterday, I was reminded of this problem again. I think we need to change the saying to: Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words cut to the heart.

Hardly a day goes by that some child is not brought to tears at school over what someone else said. Yesterday was no exception. A young girl was sobbing uncontrollably at lunch. Her friends were trying to calm her down, but nothing they said seemed to work.

I asked her, “What happened?” She pointed out two girls in the lunch line and informed me that they had said mean things to her. I asked her, “Do you believe what they said?” She did not know how to respond, so I said, “Their words only have power over you if you believe them. You are a beautiful, smart, and charming girl. What they say does not matter, does it?”

I think the problem is, we all want to be liked. We find out at a very early age that being liked by everyone is just not going to happen. People will not like you for a thousand reasons…or no reason at all. Sometimes they just don’t like you and there is nothing you can do about it. You have to accept the fact and move on.

The problem is those pesky words. They seem to hang in our minds and hearts and continue to burn our self-image. Sometimes this problem follows us in adulthood. Have you ever innocently said something to someone and had them take your head off? What you said might have been innocent, but it pricked the wound in the heart once again and you were left wondering, “What just happened?”

The lesson here is two-fold.

  • Be kind with your words. Your words have the power of life and death, so be careful how you use them.
  • Don’t be defined by what other people think of you. Know yourself well enough that the words of other people don’t affect your self-image.

Lou Holtz said, “You are never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” The same goes for what people say to you and about you on a daily basis. Don’t allow hurtful words to hit their target. If you don’t react negatively, the fiery darts are extinguished.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Liar Liar

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Liar Liar dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorLiar, liar, pants on fire! Have you ever said that to someone? I have. It is usually said in jest, but the problem is that there are people who will lie when the truth would suffice. Why would anyone do that? Why would someone lie about something that does not matter in the big picture of life?

Here are a few things I have observed about people who perpetually lie:

  • Some people have exchanged a lie for the truth. It has become THEIR truth.
  • Lying is a habit…a bad one.
  • Liars have deceived themselves into believing that there will be no repercussions from their lies. Lies always have consequences, and none of them are good.
  • People who perpetually lie are in a form of bondage. The problem is, they don’t know when to quit digging and so they just keep getting deeper and deeper in the hole.

If you have someone in your life that does this, here are a few suggestions:

  • You can try to reason with them, but don’t argue. If they won’t accept the truth, chances are that nothing you say or do is going to sway them.
  • Liars only seem to learn when they are busted. They will have to face the consequences. Even then, they may not change their behavior. Only time will tell.
  • Some people just tell lies, lies, and more lies….and THAT is the TRUTH.

Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Now THAT is worth remembering.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “I am not upset that you lied to me. I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” That about says it all, doesn’t it?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect…he ceases to love.”

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Character

Posted in Business, General, Motivational, Relationships

Character dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI never cease to be amazed at the things that people can do when they are pushed to their limits. Everyone has their breaking point, but it is at that point that we find out who we really are. It is said that who you are when nobody is looking reveals your true character. There is some truth to that, but I think you have to include being stressed to the breaking point as well. That reveals your strengths and weaknesses in ways that are unique.

When you are stressed to the max, what happens? Do you explode on people? Do you withdraw silently and sulk? Do you plot revenge? Do you hold a grudge? There are obviously a thousand responses to stress, but the one that we need to remember is to breath.

The other day I broke up a fight before it could really get started. Two boys were highly charged and ready to unleash on each other. I sent one to the back of the line and pulled the other one aside to talk to him. I just told him this, “Breath! You are worked up over something that does not really matter. Breath, and let it go.” He took a breath and visibly calmed down in front of me. Wow. The power of oxygen to the brain!

When you are stressed to the breaking point, wonderful things can happen if you are full of faith, hope, and love. Tragic things happen when you are filled with hatred, bitterness, and revenge. The difference in how you respond could literally be in breathing! You have to be able to think unemotionally to make a good decision.

As you look at the news on a daily basis it seems to be filled with people with flawed character: looters, murderers, and people who seem to lack a soul. They do what they want, when they want, to whom they want…with no thought of consequences. Here is what I believe: sooner or later everyone will be held accountable for their words and actions. My hope and prayer is that people of character will stand up and do what is right in the face of evil because evil never backs down if unopposed. We each have to do our part when we are stressed by doing the right thing, and that begins with simply taking a breath.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes