The Teacher’s Prayer

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERALord, give me wisdom as I teach the children today. Give me strength to endure the challenges that I know I must face. Help me to be patient and kind to them regardless of how they treat me or how I feel. Help me love them unconditionally. Help me know when to speak and when to listen, when to praise and when to correct. Help me to observe closely the expressions on their faces so I know if they really understand the lesson, and if they don’t, help me explain it in words that they will comprehend. I pray that I will inspire them to do things that they never dreamed possible, and that I help them unlock their greatest potential. Help me to be an encourager and treat them all with respect. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this great honor. I am humbled by the great responsibility you have given me: to help shape the hearts and minds of future generations. Help me never forget that teaching is a calling, and this calling is as sacred as any job on earth. May I be worthy of my calling. Lastly, help me always remember to be a servant leader and support my teachers and staff whenever possible. I pray that we as a team will make a positive difference in the lives of every child entrusted to us. Amen.


Dan Skognes

Growth Mindset

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Growth Mindset dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorOur Principal was talking about this concept during one of our Teacher Development days. I was familiar with the book by Carol Dweck only because someone recommended it to me a week ago and I ordered a copy. The session we went through was like reading a Cliff Notes version of her book. I still plan to read it fully when I get my copy so I don’t miss anything vital, but here are a few things I came away with from our Principal:

  • There are 2 mindsets. One is fixed and one is growth.
  • Our beliefs and our focus drive the outcomes in a positive or negative direction.
  • A fixed mindset says we are born this way and we basically don’t change much when it comes to talents and abilities. A growth mindset says you can change, learn and adapt to new things far beyond what you may currently be able to do. It changes the focus from “now” to “not yet.” Just because they can’t do it now does not mean they won’t be able to do it in the future!
  • A fixed mindset is difficult to introduce new things to because they resist change and are worried about how they look to others. They tend to argue their point and live their lives in a state of defeat. A growth mindset is open to exploring new things and willing to converse about differences to find solutions that are out there. Their attitude is: We just haven’t discovered them all yet. Let’s find one that works.

She challenged us to think about students we had taught in the past that had a fixed mindset and asked us to brainstorm about how we could have helped them move to a growth mindset.

For me, it was pretty easy to think of the kid who stuck out in class like a sore thumb. He was a rebel at heart and unwilling to try new things. He resisted just about everything we tried with him. This was frustrating for me, my co-teacher, other teachers and coaches that interacted with him, the classmates he had, and for him especially. I don’t think anyone is really happy living with a fixed mindset. They just don’t have a clue as to how to change it.

I wish I could tell you that we had a miraculous breakthrough with him, but unfortunately that was not the case. His trouble at home was apparent and he carried the weight of that dysfunction on his shoulders. He spent more time in the Principal’s office than he did in class (at least it seemed that way). I don’t know how he fared on the STARR test, but I would be shocked if he passed it.

My goal this year is to find ways to help kids look at things differently, help them experience some success in doing so, and then repeat it until they see a positive pattern. I want to instill in them the “not yet” mentality. I try to develop relationship with all the kids, but there are some that will not respond no matter what I do or say. I get that. Those are the kids that keep me up at night…thinking about what I could do differently to reach them. I wish I had a magic wand or a pill that we could take that just fixed everything, but as we all know, that does not exist.

I know that at the very least, I have to model a growth mindset myself. I have to be positive, willing to look at things differently, and open to discussing things that may be quite different from what I know or how I feel. If I can learn to master this for myself, who knows? Maybe….just maybe I will reach the next kid that comes to school overwhelmed, worn out, and disengaged. I pray this is the case as I work on fixing myself first. I am not there yet, but I am working in it.


Dan Skognes

True Grit

Posted in Business, Motivational

True Grit dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorGrit is not a term you hear used often…unless you are from the South…and then it is plural, not singular. Grit is a bit of an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Nobody really knows what it is, but a few have attempted to define it.

I was listening recently to a lady on TED Talks. She was talking about a study that was done to predict success. It wasn’t intelligence, high test scores, or socio-economic indicators that mattered in the end. It was grit. She defined grit as the passionate pursuit of your goal with unwavering determination and perseverance. I am paraphrasing her words, but that is close. Grit, in her estimation, was the differentiating factor in determining success.

The problem then is twofold:

  1. How do you identify grit?
  2. How do you encourage people to have grit?

She did not have a clear answer for this. She posed the problem and only offered a partial solution. She suggested that kids be taught that mistakes are not permanent, but part of a process and that the brain will grow through it all. If kids understand that, they will be more likely to accept it. I understand her point, but some mistakes are not so easily brushed aside and the fallout could take a lifetime to rectify…if it is rectified at all.

So what is my point? I do believe in grit and grits. I believe that there is great wisdom in learning to persevere through pain, sorrow, and whatever life may throw at you in order for you to finally attain your goal and experience for yourself what it feels like to win. I do believe that the bigger the odds against you…the greater the satisfaction in winning. That is true grit. That is something that everyone should pursue. That is something that nobody can take from you once you have tasted it. Success is sweet. Teach people what it feels like to win and they will not want to give it up.


Dan Skognes

The Windows of the Soul

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Windows of the Soul dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorWhen you meet someone and ask them how they are, what do they say 99% of the time? “Fine.” It is a courtesy response, I suppose, but I wonder what they would do if you just opened up and spilled the beans about all the drama in your life. LOL. They would probably get a shocked look on their face and then start looking for the closest exit.

I love to study people. One thing I have noticed is that very often when someone says “Fine” their eyes betray what is really going on with them. Looking someone in the eye helps gauge if they are being truthful or not. Of course, there are pathological liars that can look you right in the eye and lie to you without blinking. I am not talking about them. With those people their history is a better indicator of what they are saying than their words or their eyes.

When I first met my wife, I was captivated by her. She had me at “Hello.”  LOL. She batted those big brown eyes at me and I just melted like butter. Her eyes were and still are captivating to me. When I look into them now, I can see so many facets of who she is…and just like a diamond, they are beautiful.

On the flip side I have talked to people who are in great pain internally and it is so evident to me…despite the “Fine” from their lips and the smile on their face. Their eyes tell the tale they cannot conceal.

I have to admit it bothers me when people won’t look me in the eyes. I tell kids regularly, “Look at me when you are talking to me.” Now with the distraction of cell phones, looking someone in the eye can be challenging to say the least.

Next time you are talking with someone look them in the eyes. It shows respect to them and demonstrates that you are really interested in what they have to say. If you really want to know who they are, look through the windows of their soul.


Dan Skognes

The War Between the Head and the Heart

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The War Between The Head And The Heart dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorYou probably did not know you have a war going on in your body every day. Your head is telling you one thing, and your heart is telling you something else. What do you do? How do you resolve the conflict that is inevitable between the two? I mean, after all, your emotions don’t always line up with your logic, do they? So what DO you do when you HAVE to make a decision?

I don’t see the tension as something bad. Actually, I see it as a check and balance system that we have to help us make good decisions. The problem is, we often ignore it when the two disagree. When the head and the heart are in conflict? What do YOU do?

  • First thing is, if your head is telling you one thing and your heart is telling you to do another, don’t do it…at least for now. Give yourself time to think. Reason out what is the best thing to do.
  • Secondly, if there is a difference between the two…listen! Don’t ignore that there is an internal gong ringing so loudly that you can’t ignore it without sacrificing your peace. Is it really worth that?
  • It is a huge mistake to ignore the warning signs. Marriages have been ruined, wars lost, and careers submarined because they ignored the signs.
  • Lastly, if there is discord between the two and this is something really important to you, get an objective opinion from someone who is a trusted advisor. I do not mean your best friend or your Mom necessarily. I mean someone who has been there and done that…and has good common sense and is NOT emotionally involved in your decision. That will hopefully allow them to give you wise counsel…assuming you are willing to accept it.

The lesson here is that we have to learn to listen to our head and our heart. They both have a purpose, and they both need to be in agreement. If they are in disagreement, take heed.


Dan Skognes

The 3 Second Rule

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The 3 Second Rule dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was recently conversing with someone about the problem we have with our tongues, and he said he had the 3 second rule. I asked what that was and he said that basically he tried to wait 3 seconds before responding to someone. I thought about it. That is actually pretty sound advice.

Think about it. When do we typically get ourselves in trouble talking? It is when we speak before we think! When we blurt out something in retaliation against something or someone without really considering the damage we are going to cause, it is like tossing a live grenade in a room and hoping everyone can just get over it.

If we can learn to think before we speak and breathe at the same time, oxygen just might get to our brain and allow us to actually say something sane. Have you noticed that people who are going off on others often come across as crazy? That is because in many ways they are. Rational people don’t degrade and tear in to others.

Yes, you have every right to defend yourself, your family, and your country. You have every right to stand up for what you believe in…but, you don’t have the right to run over others for your own purposes. In school we call that bullying, and it is unfortunately something that some people still try to do as adults!

My advice here is that we do our part to be peacemakers as much as possible with all people, but where necessary, we take a stand. Let’s just make sure that the stand we take is righteous….not self-righteous. There is a big difference, and other people will see it for what it is if you are letting your anger out on someone over something that really does not matter in the scheme of things. Take three seconds to think and to breathe before you respond and see if things are not much calmer in your world. Speak the truth in love.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Mud Slinging dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorTwo things will get people red-faced and cursing quickly: politics and religion. Both of these careers are like living in a fishbowl.  It is like being read your Miranda rights which reads in part: “Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” How would you like everything you say and do to be broadcast on the nightly news or put on YouTube? Getting elected or appointed is like saying, “Let the mudslinging begin.” It is one reason why most people are just glad an election is over so the avalanche of mud will at least be reduced to an occasional mud pie. The difference between politics and religion is that the mudslinging typically is heavier before an election and for someone in ministry the slinging begins after they are hired, although neither one is immune to the post-appointment slinging.

Here is what I have observed about mudslingers:

  • They tend to speak first, and then think about the consequences of their words.
  • They tend to feel justified in throwing mud at someone else. I don’t know if this is from a feeling of inferiority or if it somehow makes them feel better about themselves; but either way it is sick and ignorant.
  • They don’t seem to realize that they have mud on themselves. There is none so blind as he who will not see.
  • They love to gossip, backbite, and slander. It gives them something to talk about. How sad is that? They have to talk about other people in order to carry on a conversation or create news.
  • You can’t reason with them. They have their mind made up. They are not interested in the truth, just their own opinion.

Mudslingers are alive and well, unfortunately. Be aware that not all who call you friend are your friend. Not all who say they love you actually love you. Not all who say they follow you are loyal. Be wise and discerning of what you believe, what you accept, and who you are willing to associate with. Be willing to set boundaries when people are exposed to be mudslingers. You can and should forgive them if and when they cross the line, but don’t allow them to continue abusing you. That serves only them and promises you a mudslide.

If you are the object of a mudslinger, here are two things you might consider doing:

  1. Confront them about what they are saying. Funny how so many people back down when confronted…especially if you are armed with the facts. Calling them into the light makes them scurry like a cockroach to the dark.
  2. Sometimes the best thing to do is to ignore them. One thing for sure is that the truth eventually comes out. If they are lying about you, it will come out and they will be the ones to look foolish, not you.

If you are in politics or ministry, you are in my prayers!


Dan Skognes

The Human Race

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Human Race dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThis is not about the different types of people in the world. It is really about the race we all are called to run. Frankly, I think a lot of folks are not conditioned for the race ahead of them.

I remember when they used to make us run in gym class. I hated it! I did not like it and still don’t to this day. I never got the “runner’s high,” I just had aches in my side and wanted to throw up.

Oddly enough, I loved to play sports which required running. I guess the difference for me was that football, soccer, and several other sports I played required you to run, but it was more sprinting than the long drawn out marathon style of running. I realize a lot of people love to just run…but I am not one of them. However, there are many things I have observed from runners that we can all apply to our lives:

  • You have to be in great condition to run well. That means training and disciplining yourself to eat a balanced diet, get proper exercise, and rest. We all need to do that, right?
  • Long distance runners understand the power of pacing. They get in a rhythm and it just seems to flow. That is how our daily lives should be. We should pace ourselves instead of going all out 24/7. Pacing is like learning to say no to things that would distract us from our goal, staying focused on where we want to be, and then prioritizing our daily activities to do those things that really matter.
  • The most critical thing a runner wears is his shoes. In life, the lesson is to have quality tools to support your mission, whatever that might be. A mechanic will tell you that without the proper tools, the job won’t get done correctly…if at all. Buy quality tools and you will never be disappointed in them.
  • You may be competing with others as a runner, but ultimately you are really competing with yourself. That goes for life too. Don’t worry about what other people are doing around you. Be the best at what you do, and never settle for mediocre. As long as you have given all you have got, then you have nothing to apologize for.
  • Great marathon runners save some gas for the finish line. In life, make sure you have left enough in the tank to finish strong. I want to slide into home plate out of breath with a grin on my face and proclaim, “What a great life!”


Dan Skognes

Retrain Your Brain

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Retrain Your Brain dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThere is a popular saying: “It is what it is,” and I hate it!  You know why? When someone says this it is NEVER good. People use it as a cop-out. They say it when they have given up, are unwilling to stick out their necks to make a hard decision, or they just want you off their back.

Next time I hear someone tell me that, I am going to stop them and correct their speech. Instead of saying “It is what it is,” let’s change it to “It is what you make it.” That will at least make them think! Quit making excuses for the way things are and start looking at what options you have. When you resign yourself to “It is what it is,” you have shut down your creative juices and possibly lost the opportunity to do something significant.

Don’t allow negative thinking to derail you. Whether it is your own brain talking to yourself, or it is someone else trying to feed you this line, stop it and correct it. If you don’t, you may never know what might have been had you just pushed the envelope a little.

I guarantee you that the first person to say, “It is what it is” was a pessimist. You will never hear an optimist make that statement. Why? Because they know that there is opportunity in every problem. They don’t see the problem as the end, only a detour. They just have to find their way around it and not give up in the process.

Don’t let negative thinking cloud your mind.  It may not happen overnight, and bad circumstances may tempt you to fall into that “stinkin’ thinkin’,” as Zig Ziglar used to call it, but it can be done.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, Will you let the obstacle in front of you hold you back from your success and happiness, or will you retrain your brain?


Dan Skognes

The Tongue

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Tongue dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorLet’s face it: our tongue gets us in trouble more often than we like to admit. There is a verse in the Bible that says: “No human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Wow, it is almost like the tongue is a snake getting ready to strike.

Why do you think people have such trouble thinking before they speak? I heard a man the other day trying to be funny and inadvertently insulted a lady he did not know. He meant it to be a joke but you could tell she was not amused.

The times when the tongue gets us in trouble:

  • Boasting about ourselves, our plans, accomplishments, or our possessions.
  • Using humor inappropriately.
  • Talking down to other people.
  • Cursing.
  • Lying.
  • Slandering.
  • Gossiping.
  • Speaking in anger or rage.

Our tongues get us in trouble when we forget who God is, who we are, and the value of other people. The moment we elevate ourselves above God or others, we do terrible things with the tongue…terrible things that cannot be taken back, and tragically we can “justify” every word we spoke.

Speaking harshly to someone is like driving nails into a board. You may be able to remove the nails, but the scars remain. Next time you are tempted to give someone a tongue-lashing, ask yourself:

  • Is what I am about to say true about the person or situation?
  • Is this going to help or hurt my relationship with them?
  • Am I speaking out of anger or jealousy?
  • Am I speaking in love?

We need to rethink what we are doing and count the cost of “getting it off our chest.” Spewing vile things may feel good at the moment, but the devastation that occurs is sometimes fatal to a relationship. You can ask for forgiveness, but the words will continue to haunt you both and it will never quite be the same.

Remember that everyone has their breaking point. Don’t be the one that pushes someone so far that they break. You will regret that for the rest of your life and be left to lament what could have been.


Dan Skognes