Gut Check

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Gut Check dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachThere are few things in life that frustrate me more than having car problems. They always seem to happen at the worst possible time. Recently my check engine light came on and I took it over to a garage that I had dealt with before. I thought I could trust them…but learned otherwise. I did not ask them what they would charge to look at my car and tell me what the problem was. Big mistake!  When he gave me the bill, I was both shocked and dismayed. The bill was $108 just to diagnose the problem. I knew other garages that would have checked it out for $65, so this sent up a red flag to me. Then he handed me the suggested repairs. I nearly fainted as he told me that two O2 sensors were out and my car should not be driven further until they were replaced.

Wow. What a pickle! The tab was over $800, and I did not have that to spend as I had just shelled out $1,200 to fix our air conditioner at home. I did not stress out about it. Instead…I prayed for discernment and made several calls to other garages to see what they would charge me. Of course, they wanted to run their own diagnostics before giving me a quote…which I can understand, but I did not want to go broke on getting estimates either. So, I parked my car and borrowed my wife’s “Granny Van” till I could save up the money for further diagnostics and repairs.

I normally go to a men’s Bible study group on Saturdays, and this particular Saturday I almost did not go because my lawn was needing to be mowed and it was very hot. The earlier in the day I mow the better…but something told me I needed to go to the Bible study anyway so I went.

I had not told anyone at the group about my dilemma, but one close friend of mine came over and asked me how things were going…and I told him about my car and the gigantic bill that I had to somehow come up with. He said, “I had that very same problem on my car recently and it turned out to be a hose that cost me $40. Let me look at it and see if that is the case.” So, after the Bible study he came over to my house, popped the hood and sure enough there was a big crack in the hose that goes to the air filter! I bought the hose and a new air filter and he put them on for me. He had both the tools and the know-how which I lacked. Auto repair is NOT one of my gifts.

We were literally getting all the parts back together when I get a call from my wife. She was at Walmart and HER car would not start! LOL. I just looked up in the sky and said, “Really God?”  LOL. We finished putting all the screws back into the engine and I was off to Walmart to help my wife. It was a bad battery and as soon as we gave it a jump it started right up. I swapped cars with her and took hers around the back of Walmart to the auto repair shop and got a new battery put in for her.

What a day! I thought back on all the circumstances that happened and how my friend was there for me when I needed him. I know God will bless him for his servant’s heart…as will I. The really sad part about this day was that the mechanics I thought I could trust were just smiling crooks. They had no morals or ethics and only cared about the dollar. Little did they know that I had planned on doing some major work on both vehicles with them in the near future, but that business will never be done with them at this point. The moral to the story:

  • When you have a gut check about something that someone is telling you…LISTEN. Don’t ignore that little voice telling you that something is not right. If you don’t have peace about it, there is a good reason and you need to find out what is wrong.
  • Don’t make rash decisions just because there is an apparent emergency. Slow down, pray about it…and seek advice from trusted advisors.
  • Wait on God. That is probably one of the hardest things for me to do, and yet when I do, He does things for me that only He can do…and He makes no mistakes! I just have to trust Him and HIS timing.
  • It was not an accident that I was compelled to go to the Bible study even when I had other things I needed to do. It was not an accident that my friend was there and had the perfect solution for me at a price I could afford. It was not an accident that my wife was at Walmart when her car broke down. I literally had to just drive it around the corner of the building to get it fixed.

Did I like doing all of this on a hot August day in Texas? No. I would much rather be indoors watching a movie and munching on some popcorn, but that is life. We have our days to watch movies and our days in the sun. We can expect to have them both; just don’t stress out when things get a little crazy. Take a deep breath, pray, trust God, and wait. You will endure the heat much better if you learn the secret of chilling.

P.S. I still mowed my lawn while I was waiting for my friend to come over.

P.S.S. I do know that you can take your car to Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s and get a free diagnostic on the check engine light, but that does not tell the whole story. A qualified mechanic has to look at it to see what is really going on. This is a perfect example. The free diagnostic said I had two O2 sensors not working, but what I needed was to replace a cracked hose! Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Circle of Teaching

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Circle of Teaching dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorTo teach you must have learned.

To learn you must have opened your mind.

To open your mind you must have been willing to admit

you don’t know it all.

To admit you don’t know it all you must have had humility.

To have humility you must have been willing to listen.

To listen you must have been willing to dismiss your prejudices.

To dismiss your prejudices you must have been willing to understand.

To understand you must have faced your fears.

To face your fears you must been courageous.

If you are willing to be courageous you can take your first step to teach.

Fearless teachers are in demand.

Never let fear hold you back from walking out your destiny.

Faith your fears.

You got this!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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.

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Love

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Love dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was very troubled at a video clip being aired this week on the news. A man was riding the DART train in Dallas, and got viciously attacked by a gang. Why? He asked them not to smoke a joint on the train. Wow. He was beaten to the point of unconsciousness and then hit in the head with a skateboard. When the news interviewed him he asked, “Where is our humanity?” It made me think of the beating that Rodney King took many years ago and his response was, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

This is a prime example of what happens to a society that has lost its way. The absence of love is evil. I have heard people debate what the opposite of love is. Some say it is hate, some say fear, but I suggest it is darkness. Where there is no love there is no light and the people stumble around in wickedness.

Here is one of the predicaments we have. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what love is. I like the definition below:

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Next time you wonder about what love is, read that again. It puts things in perspective. Pure love is giving, not taking. When someone says, “I love you,” but the actions above are missing…you best beware. Love that has no action is lust disguising itself as love.

Dionne Warwick had a song that went like this: “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing…that there’s just too little of.” Isn’t that the truth? Love seems to be in short supply in this crazy world. How about we show some humanity and all just get along? “Put a little love in your heart.”

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Not Guilty

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Not Guilty dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorOne of the big stories this week (at least here in Dallas) was that Lucky Whitehead was released from the Cowboy’s training camp when a police report came out that he had been charged with shoplifting. The media mentioned that he had a $500,000 contract and “blew” it when he went on a shoplifting spree. Almost as an afterthought they added that he denied it happened and that it was not even him. You could almost see their eyes rolling and saying, “Yeah, right!”

When I heard the report, I was shocked, appalled, and frankly a little mad. Here is a very talented man that once again did not appreciate what he had and wasted a great career opportunity for a momentary thrill. I had all those thoughts because that is how the story was told to the public.

As the day progressed, more information came out. Guess what? Lucky was telling the truth! It was someone using his identity that had been arrested. Wow. What a ridiculous scenario all the way around.

These questions immediately came to mind:

  • How could a reputable police department make such a stupid mistake? Are you telling me they don’t know how to identify someone correctly? Wow.
  • Why would the Cowboys release him without getting all the facts? Perhaps the timing was coincidental, but if that were the case, they would have said so. Why did they not give him a second chance once the truth came out? Wow.
  • Why did the media jump to the guilty verdict without really investigating what happened and at least getting the full truth from Lucky? Wow.
  • Why did I allow myself to be swayed by the news before all the facts were in? I know better than to believe everything I hear and everything I see. There are always two sides to every pancake; I don’t care how flat you make it. Wow.

Lucky, if you are reading this by some small miracle, I want to apologize to you for what happened. Nobody deserves to have their name dragged through the mud like that and their career ruined. I know you will probably never get an apology from the police department, the Cowboys, the media, or all the people who misjudged you as I did, but I apologize to you on behalf of all of them and pray that you get with a team that values your efforts. Don’t let this fiasco deter your or discourage you. Success is the best revenge.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes