Trying Times

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Trying Times dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI doubt that I would get much argument in saying that we live in trying times. Life is stressful and some days it seems that the pressure is almost unbearable. I don’t care who you are. It does not matter where you live, who your family is, or what your economic circumstances are. We all have to deal with stress of some sort on a daily basis.

Here is the key to making it through the stresses of life. Remember this: Trying times are not the time to quit trying. Expect conflict. Expect resistance. That is part of life. Don’t be surprised when things don’t go your way. Just because you get resistance does not mean there is no viable solution. You may have to get creative, but learning to collaborate with others can help you see situations in a different light. You can learn to confront and still collaborate.

If you are going through stress in your marriage or relationship, just because you don’t see eye to eye does not mean you can’t commit to still walking hand in hand. When an old couple who had been married for 60 years was asked for their formula for success in marriage, they said: “Divorce was never an option. We considered murder a few times, but never gave a thought to divorce.” LOL. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows that it takes two people rowing in the same direction to make it work. Otherwise, you will go in circles or sink the boat.

It has been said that a lot of little digs can bury a marriage (or any relationship). If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging. Throwing verbal jabs at someone can leave lasting scars and women have an uncanny ability of remembering every jab you ever threw years after you have forgotten the incident. Be kind to each other. Practice random acts of kindness daily with those you care about. Love is an action verb and needs to be expressed in word and deed.

If you are going through trying times, don’t despair. Do these things and you will make it:

  • Learn to love others generously.
  • Forgive offences daily.
  • Laugh at yourself and your circumstances, but not at others.
  • Treat time as your most valuable asset.
  • Learn the value of giving yourself to others without expecting anything in return.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Don’t give up hope.
  • Draw closer to God.

These are the things that will keep you focused, centered, and motivated to keep going when the storms are beating down your door. In learning to weather the storms you will find yourself to be stronger, wiser, and able to persevere the next storm. Learn to set your sails to the wind. Adapt to the circumstances, but stay the course.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Purpose of Pain

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Purpose of Pain dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorNobody likes pain…at least if you are a normal person. Pain is, well…a pain! It tells us when to stop doing something that is harmful. So, in that essence, pain is your friend…but you don’t have to like it.

Pain is not a respecter of people. Everyone experiences it. You can have pain on a variety of levels: emotional, physical, or spiritual. Regardless of the source of the pain, I have found this to be true: Your greatest pain can give birth to your purpose.

I can give you story after story of people who endured great pain and came through it with a sense of purpose because their pain ignited a flame. Think for a moment about someone like John Walsh who hosted the TV hit series America’s Most Wanted show. John’s son Adam was abducted and killed. As a result of the terrible pain he endured, he became an advocate for human and victim rights. Hundreds of cases were brought to light as a result of his show, and because of his passion and intense focus many of the criminals were caught and brought to justice.

Another example is a personal friend of mine, Brian Fleming. He became a Purple Heart recipient when a suicide bomber tried to kill him in Afghanistan. After enduring second and third degree burns and multiple surgeries, his mess became his message. He now speaks to people around the world about what he endured. He has a special focus on ministering to Vets who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress. When he talks they listen because he has walked in their shoes. He understands firsthand the depth of their despair, but more importantly, he can point them to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nick Vujicic is an example of someone who is an overcomer. He was born with no arms and no legs! I can’t even begin to imagine how you have a life worth living with no limbs, but he is no ordinary guy. He chose to make his problem his platform. He is amazing in his zest for life. He travels around the world and speaks to groups about living with purpose. When you hear his story and see him speak, you realize that your problems are not so big after all. What he has done with his limitations is nothing short of miraculous.

Pain has a purpose, and it is not just for you. It is for all those you encounter as well. No matter what you’ve gone through, put a voice to your message. Share your story as a way to encourage others who are going through what you have endured. In doing so you will help heal the wound in them and strengthen your own soul at the same time. That is where true healing begins for everyone.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The First 50

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

The First 50 dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorKenny Chesney has a popular song out right now that is really good.  It is called Don’t Blink. My wife and I were listening to it together and marveled at how profound that song was when it comes to summing up the brevity of life. The gist of the song is: Don’t blink or life will pass you by.

I remember as a kid how long an hour seemed…especially when I was in trouble.  Now, ten years fly by like a day. That is pretty scary since I am in the second 50 years of my life. I know the clock is ticking and every day that passes brings me one step closer to meeting my Maker face to face. I am ready…but still, I feel like I have a lot to do before I go. I want my days to count for something.

The first fifty years were in many ways an extended childhood. When I was a kid I dreamed of being Superman. Now I AM Superman. My super power is I teach. When I was a kid I loved to watch Wonder Woman on TV. Now I am MARRIED to Wonder Woman. I call her Wonder Woman because I wonder what I ever did without that woman. ;o)

My journey to becoming an adult has been both rewarding and scary at times. Here are a couple of things I learned on the way to becoming a grown up:

  • Being an adult is not all it is cracked up to be. When you are a kid you play, go to school, eat, and sleep. You have no bills and no real issues to worry about. Mom and Dad got ya covered. You get to be a kid and do kid stuff. Now, I still want to do the kid stuff but am busy working to pay the bills and playing is something I have to work into the schedule…plus I don’t have the energy I used to have.
  • As a kid I always told my age in half years. I was not 5 years old. I was 5½! I wasn’t 7, I was 7½! For some reason, that half was a BIG deal…at least to me. Nobody else seemed to really notice. Now I just as soon not talk about how old I am! My advice to kids is: stay kids as long as humanly possible. You will grow up soon enough and the responsibilities will be much easier to handle as an adult if you have learned how to just be a kid first. Of course, if you are 21 or older, it is time for you to get out of the house and start your own life (i.e. Grow up!).
  • The internet is making it much harder for kids to stay kids. They are exposed to things too fast to even comprehend. Parents: Please monitor what your kids see on the internet and monitor what they do on their phones. If you don’t, you will regret what happens to your kids. Innocence lost can never be reclaimed.

I have decided that I am not going to totally grow up; the reason is that kids are full of life. That is one reason why I love teaching them. They energize me. They have a hunger for learning and exploring that I never want to lose. Their innocence needs to be protected and never forgotten as adults. The next fifty years are going to be interesting as the world seems to be getting crazier by the moment. I am going to do my part to keep the world young at heart, and protect the innocence of kids as long as humanly possible. If everyone does their part in raising the kids, we will be handing over the reins to people that are prepared for the job. It does indeed take a village.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Procrastination

Posted in Business, Motivational

Procrastination dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorNike has a commercial out that has a great tie-in to their slogan. The commercial says, “Yesterday you said tomorrow, so just do it!” Clever play on words. I have been thinking about doing a book for quite some time, but I have found a lot of excuses as to why I have not completed it. The truth is they are just excuses.  We find time to do the things that are important to us.

There is an old joke that says: Don’t put off today what you can put off till tomorrow. LOL.  Not sure exactly what to make of that, so I will put off analyzing what it means till tomorrow.

Procrastination is such an easy pit to fall into. We are too busy, too tired, too broke, too __whatever__ (you fill in the blank). I like being around people who have a sense of purpose. They know what they need to do and have set timelines to hold themselves accountable. They often have a co-worker, spouse, or friend that also helps encourage them and makes sure they don’t fall in the procrastination pit.

If you are a to-do list maker, here are a few things to consider:

  • If you have no intention of doing it, don’t put it on the list. If you do, you will just move it from day to day to day and eventually forget about it. I have been there and done that!
  • Prioritize your to-do list and stay focused on the high priority items…the ones that HAVE to be done. Consider what time and resources are required to get it done.
  • Take the thing you dread the most on the list and do it. It will make the other tasks easier to get accomplished.

Goal setting is just daydreaming if you don’t set a deadline and have an accountability system. So, what things have you been putting off that you need to get done? In the words of Nike, “Just Do It.”

P.S. I have started my book and completed the first 14 chapters. :o )

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Train Up A Child

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Train Up A Child dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach teacher educatorThere is a Proverb that says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That is great news and should give you hope if you see kids getting off the path and going in a direction that is not good for them.

Kids need structure. They need to know the proper boundaries and understand the consequences of their decisions. How will they learn these if we as parents and teachers don’t model it for them? Do you want them learning the facts of life in the locker room or on the internet? Probably not! Training begins at home and is reinforced at school. They need both.

If you have a child that was raised to understand basic moral values then you can have peace in knowing that they will come to their senses at some point. They may be bruised from the trip, but they will finally come to a point where they realize that you weren’t so dumb after all. It is funny how smart our parents and teachers become as we get older and experience life. They actually knew what they were talking about! Who knew?  LOL.

If you have kids or grandkids that are under your influence, please train them in the way they should go. There is a lot of negative influence in this world…much of it available 24/7 on the internet. Please don’t give young kids unlimited access to the web. They do not need to see and experience much of what is online these days. The truth is, adults don’t need it either, but like it or not, it is there to experience at the click of a button. Giving kids everything they want is not loving them.  It is just the opposite and will produce an entitlement mentality and rob them of their innocence.

Things you can teach kids that will produce healthy adults:

  • Love God and serve Him all your heart. Putting God first sets the tone for everything else you do in life.
  • Love other people and be willing to serve them. When you learn to be a servant leader, you lead with humility and love.
  • Be willing to work hard for what you want. Don’t expect a handout.
  • Educate yourself continually. Never get to the point where you quit learning.
  • Learn to forgive others who have wronged you. If you don’t you give them power over you and you will be a prisoner of the past.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful for what you have. Learn to say “Thank You.”
  • Be willing to give credit to others. Nobody is solely responsible for their successes. Give credit where credit is due to others that have helped you succeed.
  • Realize that the world does not revolve around you (or me). We are important pieces to the puzzle, but there are many other pieces which are vital to the big picture called life.
  • Teach them the value of a dollar and to live within their means.
  • Teach them to respect their elders and authority. Saying “Yes Sir” and “Yes Mam” goes a long way with those in authority.
  • Teach them to surround themselves with the right type of friends. Evil company will corrupt the best of us.
  • Help them find their passion in life. That is an incredible gift that will propel them into their God-given purpose.

If your child or grandchild has gone down the wrong path, don’t give up on them. Pray for them. Continue to model the proper behavior for them, and don’t lose hope. Set appropriate boundaries, but continue to love them and let them KNOW you love them.  When they get older they will remember your words and your actions.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Focus On Your Strengths

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Focus On Your Strengths dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorParents have a tendency to look at a report card and immediately concentrate on the lowest grade. Johnny came home with 4 A’s and 1 C. The talk is usually something like this: “Good job overall. What can you do to pull up that C?” Educators do the same thing. We tend to focus on what is wrong vs. what is right.

I am suggesting we change the focus. Yes, I agree that effort needs to be put in to all the courses taken, but there can be extenuating circumstances that skew the figures. For instance, I was never gifted in math and science. I did OK with those subjects because I worked extra hard to learn it, but I never really liked the subjects. What I excelled in was English, History, and Business. Those classes were like a duck taking to water for me. I loved them and poured myself into them…and my grades reflected it. I have used those natural gifts on a daily basis.

Everyone is wired differently. We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different experiences, and different families. The problem comes when we try to pool all kids into the mix and teach them a subject without considering how they are wired. I am not talking about special needs kids. They have to be given special consideration. I get that. I am talking about the average student going to school in the USA.

Some people learn primarily by seeing, some by hearing, and some by doing. Of course we all have a bit of each of these in how we learn, but we probably rely on one over the other. I am one of those people that learns best when I actually do it myself. You can tell me all day about it, or I can read everything there is about it, but until I actually DO it, it does not really sink in. Once I have done it, I get it.

One of the best things we can ever do for a child whether we are a parent or a teacher is to help them discover their gifts, then encourage them to pursue it with all of their hearts. The world is filled with people who have settled for a paycheck instead of pursuing their gifts…and they are miserable for it.

Focus on what someone does well and help them take THAT to the next level. You will be doing them a great service in identifying and confirming what they may already know in their heart…and you will save yourself and them a lot of stress from all of the guilt that would otherwise be inflicted. Focus on strengths and everyone wins. Teach them how they NEED to learn, and they WILL learn.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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Motives Still Matter

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Motives Matter dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAsk any lawyer or judge if motives matter and I believe you will get a resounding YES. Motive is why we do what we do. It is what drives our decisions and our behaviors. It is like the underlying current that takes us down the path…right or wrong.

Why does it matter what your motives are? Ask yourself this:

  • If someone told you they loved you just to get intimate with you, would it matter?
  • If someone lied to you to get a job, would it matter?
  • If someone did something for you just to get something THEY wanted, would it matter?

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. It WOULD matter. We want people to be honest with us about who they are and what they are doing, don’t we? Well, it starts with me. I have to work on me, and you have to work on you, because (as we have all found out) we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves, and sometimes even that that takes the hand of God to get our attention.

Our motives matter because it reveals our character. Why you do what you do tells people who you REALLY are, despite your actions and your words. Like it or not, motives seem to have a way of coming out eventually.

Ideal motives have these in common:

  • They are unselfish.
  • They are giving.
  • They are kind.
  • They are honest.
  • They are pure.
  • They are loving.
  • They are patient.
  • They are forgiving.

Next time you find yourself thinking about doing something for the wrong reason take a hard look in the mirror. Think twice before you take action. Is it worth the cost when you are found out? If you think before you act, you will save yourself a lot of grief and embarrassment. It might even save your marriage or your career.

Having the right heart and attitude will take you places where you are celebrated, not just tolerated. It will open doors that otherwise would be forever closed to you. Motives do matter as trust will rise and fall on them. Knowing your why is only half the story. Defining and refining it is what makes our why vital to our existence and the legacy we leave. You will never find your way if you don’t find your why.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Redeployed

Posted in Business, Motivational

Redeployed dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorRecently I was listening to the testimony of war veteran Brian Fleming. He spoke of how he had served in Afghanistan for America and was nearly killed twice. He received the Purple Heart for the second explosion which nearly took his life. He had second and third degree burns over his body when a suicide bomber exploded himself next to his Humvee. Despite the armor reinforcement and bullet proof glass, the explosion was so intense it destroyed his vehicle.

Remarkably, he survived the ordeal. To look at him today, you would never know he suffered anything…but suffering is something he came to understand at the deepest level. When he got his first bath at the hospital, his skin was so charred that they had to filet his skin to remove the debris. He literally was praying that he would die…yet he endured.  He not only survived, he thrived.

He recently co-wrote a book called Redeployed with another combat veteran named Chad Robichaux. It is subtitled: How Combat Veterans Can Fight the Battle Within and Win the War at Home. The proceeds for the book go to give free copies to Vets. It is tragic when someone goes to war and then returns home and loses their life. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates twenty-two suicides occur daily amongst combat veterans. That has to stop.

Brian said that suffering ceases when you understand the meaning. He came to realize that his pain was not necessarily for HIM. It was for him to share and encourage others who were going through post-traumatic stress. His test has become his testimony, and it is powerful.

One bit of advice he gave was so solid: Quit asking “Why?” when something bad happens. There are no answers to “Why?” It is the wrong question. Ask “What?”

  • What am I to learn from this?
  • What am I to do now?
  • What can I do to help others that are going through this?

Those are healthy questions to move through the pain. I recommend you get a copy of his book for yourself or for someone you know who is struggling with overcoming trauma. You can purchase a copy on Amazon. He is a gifted speaker as well.  If you wish to have him speak at your company or organization, please go to KeynotePeople.com to check his availability.

P.S. Thanks to all of the military personnel who serve to protect our freedom. You are in my prayers. I am sincerely grateful for the sacrifices you make for our country on a daily basis. God bless each of you.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Dysfunctional

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Dysfunctional dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThere is an old joke that says: My family puts the FUN in dysFUNctional. Perhaps you can relate to that. Every family seems to have at least one dysfunctional person. If you don’t know who it is in your family, look in the mirror.  LOL.

I was doing lunchroom duty this week and two second grade kids were arguing. The little girl was visibly upset and punching a little boy.  I went over to them to see what was going on. She said, “He called me weird!”  I laughed and said, “Hey, that is OK. I am weird…and I like it!” She immediately changed from being defensive to smiling and realizing that it was OK to be a little weird.

We live in a world of conformity. The non-conformists are made to feel weird and there is an incredible pressure to get in line and go with the crowd. As a result, kids who are different from the rest either withdraw to themselves or they compromise who they are for the sake of fitting in.

I have the type of personality that I want to please people. I want to be liked and I want to fit in. As I got older, I realized that I needed to be myself and quit trying to be part of the in-crowd. There is no peace or fulfillment in being anyone other than who God created us to be. The truth is, there will always be people that don’t like you or accept you…and there does not even have to be a good reason why they don’t like you. So, why are we trying to please everyone?

When I am saying it is OK to be weird, please don’t twist that to mean anything evil or immoral. I just mean different. It is OK to be yourself. Celebrate who you are and accept the fact that not everyone is going to like you or be like you. We are all unique when it comes right down to it. We all have our quirks.

Be kind especially to those that are different. I was at a funeral recently and the preacher quoted Timothy Keller. He said, “The deepest need we all have is to be fully known and truly loved.” That is a deep thought. That is how God loves us. He knows us completely and still loves us…despite our faults and failures. Let’s do our best to love people the way God does. It would make a better world for everyone, wouldn’t it?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Confrontation

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Confrontation dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

There is an incredible book and movie called Lord of the Flies. It is the classic good vs. evil story. The hero, a young lad named Ralph stood up to the bullies and it nearly cost him his life. In a very powerful scene at the end of the movie, Ralph was being hunted by his classmates! What saved him was a rescue crew on the beach of the remote island they had been stranded on.

Can you imagine what Ralph was thinking when he saw the crew? The flood of emotion had to be overwhelming. He was saved, and the predator boys were going to find out that their evil deeds would indeed be punished. Good triumphed over evil.

Fast forward to the news this week. There was a Good Samaritan who tried to intervene when a crazed husband shot his wife at work. The wife was wounded in the ankle and will survive, but the Good Samaritan was shot to death as he tried to help her! The killer turned himself into authorities and is awaiting sentencing. Good will eventually triumph over evil once again…but look at the cost.

Both the movie and the example I gave you are bullying taken to the extreme. Bullies left unchecked will continue to bully people until something really bad happens to someone. Sadly, this happens on a daily basis in homes, businesses, and schools around the world. Bullying has become epidemic. Countless people have taken their own lives because of social media attacks and bullying at home, school, or work.

What is the answer? It is not an easy one, but I believe it has to start early in life. Kids have to be taught that bullying won’t be tolerated. The line has to be clear.  Kids have to know if they cross the line there will be severe consequences.

If you are a teacher, a manager, or a parent, please do your part to raise children who understand right from wrong.  Kids need to understand that kindness and love will trump bullying and hatred. Better they learn that as a child than to find themselves behind bars or in a cemetery as a result of their poor choices. The consequences for bullying are never good. Let’s do our part and raise kids to love instead of hate.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes