The Rainbow After The Rain

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Skognes

Why Success Fails

Posted in Business, Motivational

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Skognes

Lessons Learned From Football

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Skognes

Why People Can’t Be Transparent

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

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

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

I think there are a number of factors here:

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Skognes

The Comfort Zone

Posted in Business, Motivational

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Skognes

Like Sand Through The Hourglass

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Skognes

SHK University

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

SHK University dan skognes leadership development training consulting motivation blogger speaker

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

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

What I have learned from attaining my degrees:

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

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

Here is to learning the lesson the first time.


Dan Skognes

What Makes A Great Team?

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

What Makes A Great Team dan skognes leadership development training coaching consulting motivation blogger speaker

Millions of dollars have been spent on that one question.  Is it the owner/CEO, the VPs, the managers, the coaches, the players?  It is the service, the knowledge, the expertise? Is it quality or quantity?  Is it timing, or just plain luck?  Well, the answer is, “Yes.”

Everything matters when it comes to creating a great team culture.  It can’t be done if there is one weak link.  It takes an Owner/CEO that is able to cast the vision and strategy for the organization.  They have to be able to drive execution throughout the organization and make sure they have the right people in the right places for all the moving pieces to work.

The VPs have to not only understand and buy in to the vision and strategy, they have to make sure that it is communicated properly at all levels and that accountability is in place to measure performance metrics.

The managers and coaches have to make sure that the players or team members are equipped, trained, motivated, and performing at their peak levels for both personal and corporate goals to be attained.

What happens if someone in the chain is not engaged?  What if they are not properly trained?  What if there are not enough people to do the job effectively and safely?  You see how complicated it gets?

Great teams are birthed when vision and strategy are not just implemented, but are embraced by the organization at all levels.  You can’t afford to have a weak link.  One bad apple spoils the barrel.  One bad player or team member will infect the others.

You don’t have to live in La La land and pretend that all is well when all hell is breaking loose around you.  What you do have to have is a group that is committed to quality and excellence no matter what comes.  Everyone gives their best.  Everyone is committed to having someone else’s back. Nobody takes shortcuts.  Everyone is committed to holding their peers accountable to the same standards of excellence, so nobody is above the law…including the Owner/CEO, the VPs, the managers, and coaches. It has to start at the top and has to be built on integrity and truth.  If it is not, everyone will see through it and it becomes a joke.

If you want a team of excellence, it has to start with the very top of the company.  It takes the top people being willing to admit they don’t have all the answers, but be committed to getting the right ones. It takes not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.  That is often where the break comes, because fear will keep some people from admitting they are wrong or that they don’t have all the answers.  The people that come to mind that were truly great had a passion for what they were committed to.  They were able to put key people in key roles at the most critical times to accomplish their goals and objectives.  It means having an eye for talent and the ability to let them excel at what they do best…and trusting them to do their part.  Think about what Jesus did with 12 disciples.

Greatness is born out of trials and tribulations.  Nothing great was ever accomplished without focused and sustained effort in the face of obstacles, storms, and adversity.  The great teams relish the victory because they know the price they all paid to achieve greatness.  It was not one person making the team great, but a unified effort to get to their goal.  Here is to seeing you achieve all God created you to be….and that is great!


Dan Skognes

Shifting Sand

Posted in General

House hangs off cliff

There is a proverb that says a man built his house on shifting sand.  The winds came and the house collapsed.  Another man built his house on solid rock.  When the winds came, it withstood the storm.

This proverb could apply to building a house, building a business, or building a relationship.  If there is not a firm foundation, it is going to collapse when the storms come, and as you know, in life…the storms WILL come.

What can you do to build a firm foundation?

  • Don’t take shortcuts.  Whether you are building something physically or emotionally, take the time necessary and use quality ingredients.  If you are building something physically, the foundation is the most important piece of the structure. Make sure it is properly mixed, properly cured, and adequate in width and depth. If it is a relationship, the foundation of any relationship is made up of trust, respect, and love.  If you have that as a foundation, it can stand any storm that life might throw at you.  Take one of the elements out, and it is likely to fall.
  • Don’t be deceived by the lure of the sand. I recently watched a million dollar house be burned to the ground because it was built on a cliff, and the ground below eventually gave way.  The house was going to fall into the lake, so it had to be burned to the ground to protect boaters.  What a tragedy that a structural engineer was not brought in to test the land first and see if it would stand the test of time. Insurance did not cover it because proper precautions were not taken. What a lesson to learn.  Talk about learning something the HARD way!
  • Have you ever seen a business that could not stand because it lacked a firm foundation?  There is a reason that most businesses fail in the first five years.  Lack of vision, lack of focus, lack of resources all contribute to the demise of thousands of businesses every year. Everyone goes into a business with great expectations of success, yet few are prepared for the storms. No business will make it without clear vision for where they are going. It takes great fortitude to not let the setbacks sink the ship or get you off course.  Stay on course, and make sure you have the provisions to see you through the storm.  Having a good crew is critical to success.  Few people make it solo in this day and age.
  • The cornerstone is the most critical piece of a solid foundation.  The reason it is so important is that it is the first stone set in the foundation, and all others take their place in accordance with it. If it is not aligned properly, everything else will be askew.  Make sure your cornerstone (physical or relational) is properly aligned.

May your foundations be firm, blessed, and secure.


Dan Skognes

Pressure Cooker

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Pressure Cooker dan skognes leadership development trainer coach motivational speaker blogger

Do you ever feel like the pressures of life are so great that you are about to explode?  That is not a good thing, by the way. How you handle pressure says a lot about you and your faith.

Not trying to put a guilt trip on anyone here, but if you are living every day stressed out, then I have to ask, “Where is your faith?” Do you say you trust God, then continue to worry, fret, gripe, complain, become angry, or get bitter?  Where is God when you need Him???  Why isn’t he answering your prayers???  Why ME???

OK, if that is you, calm down.  Breathe deeply…exhale.  In with the good…..out with the bad.  Sometimes life can be pretty crazy, and I don’t care how strong you are, or how strong your faith is, sometimes we all get knocked to our knees by life.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that when one thing goes wrong, several other things go wrong at the same time!  Just when you feel like you are able to stand up from the first punch, you get knocked to your knees by something else, and then another.  The question becomes, are you going to stay down?

I heard a testimony from Tony Dungee recently.  Talk about a guy that understands disappointments and setbacks.  Tony said, “How you respond to failure, how you respond to disappointment…says a lot more about you than how you respond to success.” He consistently took his teams to the playoffs, but the Superbowl championship kept alluding him. Things did not turn out the way he thought they would.  Despite taking Tampa to the playoffs 4 consecutive years, he got fired because he did not win the BIG one. It was one of the biggest disappointments in his life because he felt that the Lord had brought him to Tampa.  It would have been very easy to give up on God or at the very least…get mad at Him.

He did not know what he was going to do when he got fired.  He did not know if he was even going to stay in football at that point.  That is when Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts called and told Tony that they were making a change at head coach and Tony was the man for the job.  The rest is history.  It was not written as Tony would have scripted it, but only as God could do it. Tony never gave up.  He came to grips that if he NEVER won the BIG one, he would be OK with that, but he would never give up on trying to win it.

When the Colts won the Superbowl, at the request of the players they honored God by having a team prayer after the game….just as they had done after every game.  What a testimony to walking in faith, trusting God, thanking God, and seeing the blessings of God as a result.

If you are struggling in your faith because of the setbacks of life, don’t give up.

  • Don’t give up on God.  His timing is perfect. He IS there and He DOES care. Trust Him!
  • Don’t give up on yourself.  God has a purpose for your life.  He will help you attain that purpose.  Just don’t quit. Focus on doing His will today for your life.  Take a step of faith, and don’t worry about tomorrow.

It is easy to get discouraged, particularly when you have struggled for years in some area.  Take a lesson from Tony Dungee.  God will see you through.  You just have to believe in Him and stay the course.  Follow Him.  Put Him first in all you do, and He will direct your paths. Winning is worth pursuing, but living a life that is free, purpose driven, and Christ centered is the biggest win we can pursue. When all is said and done, we are not defined by what we do for a living, but who we are inside.


Dan Skognes