You Can Only Do So Much

Posted in Business, Motivational

You Can Only Do So Much dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorHardly a day goes by that I don’t hear a teacher lamenting that they can’t seem to get everything done that they need to do. They are overwhelmed by the demands of the job. They have kids to teach, parents to update and meet with, lessons to plan, co-workers to collaborate with, papers to grade, rooms and boards to decorate, Principals to appease, and when the day is over, they have their family to take care of. Me time? What is that?

Being a teacher is demanding on so many levels. I think everyone ought to be forced to be a substitute teacher for a week. That would solve most of the problems we have with parents, don’t you think? There is nothing like walking in someone’s shoes to better understand what they do on a daily basis. LOL.

There are two sides of the coin to consider. On one side, you can only do so much. You only have so much time, limited resources, and a finite amount of energy and patience. On the other side….and this is the side that we may never get to see, we are changing the lives of future generations. Never underestimate what you can do because I can tell you first hand that what you do matters. You ARE having an impact….even when you can’t see it and even if you don’t believe it yourself. Whether you are a Superintendent, Principal, Front Office Staff, Teacher, Teacher’s Aide, Nurse, Counsellor, or any of the support people who man our schools….what you do matters.

When you sow into the lives of kids, the returns may not be immediate. In fact, it may be many years down the road for each child before they actually practice what you taught them…but that is the beauty of teaching. The seeds you plant are not wasted. It may or may not come to be in your lifetime where you see the fruit of your labors, but the seeds will sprout and develop at some point given the least bit of nurturing from someone else and a willingness to sprout on their own.

The seeds you sow today are destined to be the plants for your students to climb throughout their lives to reach their destiny, and they are our future.  Every seed matters. Every word counts. Every encouraging thing you do to help them, re-direct them, discipline them, love them, and show them the way is not wasted.

Thanks for all you give today….and all you are sowing for our tomorrows. Just know that what you do matters.

P.S.  If you know a teacher that is struggling, please let them know how much you appreciate them (and be specific as to WHY you appreciate them). That word of encouragement will be like water to a thirsty soul. They need to know that someone recognizes who they are and that what they have sacrificed is not in vain.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Forced Compliance

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Forced Compliance dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1It has been said that a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. In other words, I may be forced to sit down on the outside, but I am still standing up on the inside! Think about it. When someone forces you to agree “or else,” there is a wall that starts being built to protect yourself. Nobody likes being forced to do anything, do they? And yet, we all have times that we are forced to comply with things we don’t like.

One of the problems with this whole scenario is people who just have a rebellious attitude towards anyone and anything in authority. It does not matter if you tell them the rules up front. Nobody is going to tell them what to do! That attitude, unfortunately winds up getting a lot of people in trouble with the law, their spouses, their families, their jobs, their school, and people in general.

Rebellion against authority is as old as creation. Man started out rebelling against God and has been in rebellion ever since. The truth is, without rules, regulations, and compliance, we have anarchy. If everyone is left to their own devices, then it becomes survival of the fittest. The problem with that mentality is that in the land where people think it is OK to take an eye for an eye, everyone eventually becomes blind.

I can’t argue that there are some dumb laws on the books, but there is a way to lawfully change them without burning anything, killing anyone, and without taking the law into your own hands.

When you are faced with forced compliance, take a look at the facts:

  • Is the person forcing compliance in authority? Chances are you need to comply.
  • Is the person forcing compliance breaking the law themselves? If they are, question that authority. You should not be forced to do something unlawful, unethical, or immoral.
  • Does the person forcing compliance care for you? If they truly love you and are concerned about your welfare, listen to them. They may very well have the best solution for you if you will just listen.
  • Are you rebelling against compliance because of past hurts? If you are letting the past rule you, there is overwhelming evidence that you will continue to make poor decisions. Let the past be in the past and live today as if it is all you have left. After all, we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
  • Are you letting stubborn pride and self-will drive your decisions? Pride and selfishness are the enemies of peace and relationship. You have to lay down your pride and put others before yourself if you wish to have any peace and real meaning to your life.

Compliance to authority does not have to be forced in most instances. When it becomes forced, look in the mirror and ask yourself what role should you play? Take the emotions out of it and look at it objectively….if possible. We need rules to live by and most of the time we need to comply with those in authority. It may help to remind yourself that submitting to authority is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of maturity, wisdom, and common sense.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Self-Discipline

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Self-discipline  dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator (2)The ability to discipline ourselves seems to be the impossible dream for many people. Here is the catch: if you don’t learn to discipline yourself, someone will do it for you. That is a fact…whether you like it or not.

I had a first grader that was out of control in the lunchroom. He threw someone’s lunch box across the room. Unfortunately for him, I saw it and told him he was going to have to go to the back of the lunchroom to sit by himself. He looked at me with bold defiance and said, “No, I am NOT going!” He flat out told me, “I don’t CARE if I get in trouble.” Wow. This coming from a first grader!

I looked at him and calmly said, “You can either come with me to the back of the room, or I will have that policeman over there come and get you. Which do you prefer?” He looked at me with disgust and said, “Oh…alright…I will go with YOU.”  LOL. It is funny how someone with a gun and badge gets the attention of offenders…at least most of the time.

The thing that broke my heart about this kid is that I found out he had just got out of a discipline meeting with the Principal of the school just before he came to lunch! Obviously he did not learn anything in that meeting.

I have seen folks go sideways with those in authority and it never goes well for them. The problems seem to escalate until someone is hurt, put in jail, or killed. If you are a parent, please do your part to set the proper example for your kids and reinforce respect for authority. It is sad to hear what comes out of the mouths of some of these kids…some as young as Kindergarten. They don’t even know what they are saying. All they know is, Mom and Dad say this when they get upset, so it must be OK for ME to say it when I get mad.

Kids who do not learn self-discipline at an early age are being set up to have a very rough life or no life at all. There is always going to be someone in authority at school, work, or in the government that will hold them accountable. It is better to learn self-discipline than suffer the consequences of the alternatives, don’t you think?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Time

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Time dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1“Like sand through an hourglass…so are The Days of Our Lives.” That is a famous line from a soap opera by the same name. I like the analogy as it has a pretty deep meaning if you stop to think about it. Many people believe time is in their control. When we are young, we think we are bulletproof. We have an eternity to grow up!  Right? The older we get, the more we realize that we don’t control time at all. We are really at its mercy in many ways.

We all have 24 hours in a day, but isn’t it funny how things happen out of our control which totally disrupt our plans? It has been said that we make our plans and God laughs. Time is no respecter of people. It does not matter how smart you are, how rich you are, or how hard you work when it comes to time. You can use it wisely or waste it, but there is still only so much of it. The bottom line is, time (as we know it) is going to run out on everyone. That part freaks a lot of people out.

Here is my advice. You can take it for what it is worth, but I think it makes sense when you think about it. Live your life each day like you KNOW it is your last day. If you knew you had 24 hours to live, you would be:

  • Kinder to everyone
  • More patient
  • More forgiving
  • More loving
  • More giving

You would have a sense of urgency to get the important things done and you would let the little things go. You would make sure you had your relationship with God and people in order, your finances in good shape, and provisions made for those you love.

Isn’t this the way we should live every day? After all, none of us know when we will draw our last breath. Let’s make the best of today. Let’s smile more, laugh often, and love one another unconditionally. Ultimately, the choice is yours whether your glass is half full or half empty.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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

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

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