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!”

Shalom!

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?

Shalom!

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.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Lemonade

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Lemonade dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorWhen I was in college I really learned how to study and how to take tests. The problem is that the tests we have in life are rarely the type we can study for the night before and pass. I guess that is why so many tests become our mess.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like taking tests and I especially don’t like making messes for myself or for others. So, the obvious question is, how do we prep for the tests of life and how do we minimize the messes?

Here are few thoughts to consider that might help in the future:

  • Tests are a part of life, so don’t be surprised when they come. Anticipate them. Acknowledging their reality and anticipating them is the first step in dealing with them in a healthy way.
  • A life test may come in many forms: Being let go from a company unexpectedly, having a relationship you cherish go haywire, getting bad news from the Dr. about your health, getting a call in the middle of the night that your child was in a serious accident, finding out that the company you invested in heavily has gone bankrupt and your life savings is gone, etc. These can be painful to endure and will test who you really are.
  • The tests we take are either passed in that we did not let them crush us or derail us, or we fail the test. We fail when we worry, fret, lose sleep, lash out at others, or seek to blame someone for the mess. When we do that, it becomes our mess. Sometimes there is a viable person or company to blame, but often it is just the way life unfolds. It rains on the just and the unjust alike, and there will always be circumstances beyond our control. If you let the things you can’t control take control, they will drive you crazy.

Here is how to make lemonade out of lemons:

  • Let your test become your testimony. The tests you have endured will make you stronger and there are others struggling with the same issues. Share with them how you made it and encourage them in their storm. There is something therapeutic about helping others when you are in a storm of your own.
  • Let your mess become your message. Everyone makes mistakes. When you do, own up to it, seek forgiveness where necessary, make it right if within your power, and help others who have made messes to see that something good can come out of it…even if they don’t see it at the moment.
  • We will never see clearly when we just got punched in the face by life circumstances. In that moment, try not to overreact to what happened. Seek to put it in perspective in the bigger picture of life, and remember that most of the things that set us back are temporary issues…and all of them are opportunities for us to learn. I hope you learn from them and move forward. Resist the temptation to have a pity party.
  • Seek advice from people who understand the situation you are going through. If they have been through something similar and have made a few messes along the way, they probably have some counsel for you to hear. Just make sure they are grounded spiritually and emotionally themselves, otherwise you both might be making poor decisions together in the future.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Dance with the Devil

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Dance With The Devil dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI am watching a Telemundo series on Netflix. It has English sub-titles and is called El Senor de los Cielos. It reminds me of a Spanish version of Dallas or Dynasty…only on steroids. It has a very dysfunctional family. They are filthy rich and money has controlled their lives. Evil consumes them, literally.

There are some very stark contrasts from the US soaps, however. Cielos is about the cartel. It takes place in Columbia, Mexico, and sometimes here in the USA. The story is based on the real life events of Aurelio Casillas, who followed Pablo Escobar to become Mexico’s biggest drug trafficker of the 90s. Warning: The body count is pretty high since it goes with the territory and it can be gruesome at times.

Here are some things that are common to these stories:

  • Wealth reveals true character. When coupled with power it has a tendency to corrupt. It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • The pursuit of wealth and power are a god for many people and thus there is no moral compass.
  • Where there is no moral compass, anything goes and life has no value. If you get in the way of the one in power, you are expendable…even if you are family.
  • Lying is a way of life for them. Truth is always relative. It is expected that others be truthful, but you are free to lie when necessary if it serves you.
  • None of the characters had peace in their lives.
  • No amount of money or power was ever enough. They always wanted more.
  • Severe consequences were often ignored or minimized.

I am fascinated to see how people live like this. I do realize this is not all factual. The sad part is that it was probably a lot worse than portrayed! It is sobering to see how people in the world of drugs live. There is no value for life. I guess as long as there are drugs there will be people willing to do whatever they have to in order to gain the power and the money. They have traded their souls for something that has no eternal value. It is a testament of how not to waste your life, and that in the end justice and truth will prevail. There is a great price to pay for dancing with the devil.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Never and Always

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Never  and Always dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

  • Never discourage someone from learning. Always encourage their curiosity. True learning occurs when there is interest and engagement.
  • Never ignore a child who needs your attention. Always acknowledge them respectfully. Even kids need to be respected. Besides, you might be missing the best hug of the day.
  • Never take those you love for granted. Always express your love in word and deed…and express it often.
  • Never go to bed angry. Always be resolved to resolve discord. It does not go away magically.
  • Never stew about who is right and who is wrong. Always seek to understand first.
  • Never withhold forgiveness. Always forgive. You may have to set boundaries for the future, but remember to forgive them no matter what. It is for your benefit, not theirs.
  • Never withhold paying back a debt if it is within your means to do so. Always be truthful with the lender and seek to work out an amicable agreement for both.
  • Never forget the widows, orphans, and those in prison. When you minister to them, it is like ministering to the Lord. Always minister to those in need.
  • Never make a major decision when you are too tired, too angry, or too hungry. Always seek wise counsel, consider the consequences, and go with your gut feelings.
  • Never be cruel to animals or people. Always show kindness and love regardless of how they act.
  • Never brag about yourself. Always praise others and let them be the ones to brag on you.
  • Never live in the past, nor boast about tomorrow. Always remember you only have today. Yesterday is gone. Let it go. Tomorrow may never come. Don’t count on it.
  • Never live beyond your means. Always spend less than you earn and save something from your paycheck. Life happens. Be prepared not surprised or overwhelmed.
  • Never judge others. Always show respect for differences of opinions, beliefs, and cultures. You don’t have to compromise your core beliefs to show respect to others.
  • Never disrespect your country, your flag, or your President / leader. Always show respect. You don’t have to agree with the laws or the leader to be respectful and abide by the laws. If you don’t like how things are going, use peaceable means to change it. Work to elect people that share your views. If you just can’t stand it, then consider another country to live in. After all, it is a big world with lots of options.
  • Never say “Never.” You will be surprised at how often you will end up doing the things you said you would never do. Always consider the possibilities regardless of how absurd it may seem at the moment. Time and clear thinking have a way of changing our minds.
  • Never take your health for granted. Always take care of yourself. You only have one body and one life to live.
  • Never waste time. Always remember that once a moment is gone you can never recover it. Time is one of our most precious commodities. Use it wisely.
  • Never make promises you can’t keep. Always be a man or woman of your word.
  • Never compromise your morals or your integrity. Always guard your mind and your heart.
  • Never neglect having balance in your life. Always find the balance between your faith, family, finances, friends, and career. If you allow one of those to get out of balance, the others will suffer.
  • Never let anyone steal your joy or your dream. Always dream and dream big, and learn the power of being at peace in the storm.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Two Types of People

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Two Types of People dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorEveryone on the planet can be categorized in one of two ways. You are either a giver or a taker. Now before you start arguing that you are both, I agree with you, but everyone tends to be more of one than the other. I would agree that you should have a healthy balance of both. In fact, if you are not balanced, you are dysfunctional.

Givers tend to have these qualities:

  • They tend to ask, “How will this affect everyone else?”
  • They get true joy in giving to others.
  • They are unselfish.
  • They are nurturing by nature.
  • They have a hard time saying no when asked for help.
  • They tend to be listeners and feelers.

Takers also have similar qualities:

  • They tend to ask, “What is in in for me?
  • Their joy comes from personal accomplishments.
  • They are driven and focused.
  • They may come across as cold and unfeeling.
  • They have a hard time saying yes when asked for help.
  • They tend to be talkers and thinkers.

The problem is that to have a truly happy and fulfilling life, you need to have some of both. There are times you need to give and times you need to take. Neither one is inherently evil in and of itself, but if you are too much one way, it is not healthy. If you are too giving, you are seen as a doormat and people will take advantage of your giving nature. If you are too much of a taker, people will resent you and avoid being around you for fear of being taken advantage of.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Is it primarily a giver or a taker? Are you balanced in both areas? My challenge to you is that if you are a giver, learn that you have to respect yourself and say no at times; otherwise you become a doormat for the takers. If you are the bull that runs over people, learn that nobody else is going to want to be around you if you trample on them. Learn the art of listening to others and consider their feelings.

I hope you find balance in your life of give and take.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

People Are Strange

Posted in Funny

People Are Strange dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThis might make you start singing the song by the Doors, but I mean this: People are strange! If you don’t believe me, look in the mirror. Just admit it, we all have our quirks. The quickest way for me to get an eye roll from my wife is to say, “Yeah, I made a mistake once.”  LOL. She is quick to bring me back to reality with, “Once???”

I love to people watch and what better place to watch them than….you guessed it:

Walmart. I go to Walmart several times a week, and I think part of it is to just watch the people. The show begins in the parking lot and continues throughout the shopping experience. I don’t think it is right to make fun of people, but some folks seem to invite it with what they wear in public.

Here are a few things I would like to request that you NOT wear in public:

  • Grown women with PINK stamped on the butt of their pants. What are they thinking?
  • If we can see your undergarments through your pants or skirt you need to consider wearing a slip or dark clothes. Seriously. If you are a man, please don’t wear a slip. Opt for dark clothes.
  • Short-shorts on men. Never a good idea unless you want to get beat up.
  • Bermuda shorts on men with over the calf dark socks. (I told my wife if I ever go out like that in public to just shoot me because I lost my mind).
  • If body parts are hanging out of your clothing please buy a larger size. You will breathe easier and spare the rest of us the embarrassment of a wardrobe failure.
  • PJs are not OK unless you are under 3 years old.

This list could be endless, but common sense has to kick in at some age, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not, but if you go out in public dressed like a clown and you are not a professional clown, you are going to end up on The People of Walmart videos on YouTube. You’ve been warned.

P.S. Flip-flops are OK but don’t make the mistake of calling them thongs. That is what we called them when I was a kid. Now you get a strange look from your family if you ask, “Should I pick up a new pair of thongs while I am out?”  Not good if you are old and carrying a few extra pounds…just saying. LOL.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Finish Strong

Posted in Business, Motivational

Finish Strong dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1

I love sports. For many years I played just about everything you can imagine. I loved to compete both on teams and in individual events. For me, there was always something about leaving it all on the court or field and doing the best I could. Sometimes I won, and sometimes I lost, but how I finished was what really mattered.

Now I am in the 4th quarter of my life. It does not matter what mistakes or setbacks I have encountered to this point. What matters most now is what do I do with the time I have left on this earth?

Regardless of what quarter you are in, let me encourage you on a few points:

Whether you are in business, sports, you are a home maker, or even if you are retired, the game is not over. As long as you have breath, there is something positive to contribute to your family, your community, your country, and even the world. Try to do something every day that has a positive impact on others. Whether you teach, sell, manage, own, write, collect garbage, deliver, or whatever you do…do it to the best of your ability. Take pride in what you do and be the best at it every day. Trust me when I tell you that people are watching you and how you respond to the stresses of life. You are writing your epitaph with your actions more than your words.

Perhaps you are discouraged with the setbacks you have faced. It might be a failed business, relationships which have gone south, or even health issues which have you sidelined from what you really want to do. Quit asking, “Why me?”  Change your question to, “What now?” Just because you took a detour, don’t let that keep you from reaching your goals. The blessings are in the journey, not the destination. Don’t miss the blessings because of setbacks. Life is always full of setbacks. The things that set you back can be the very things that set you up for your God-given destiny. So, quit grumbling and start looking for the opportunity that is there before you and go for it.

Time and time again I have seen incredible comebacks in the world of sports. Just when you think your team is down, they somehow find the way to come back and win…against all odds. I love that about sports, but I also see the correlation to enduring to the end in life. We can win in life even when the odds are totally stacked against us. We have to learn the power of focus, have faith in ourselves (even if others have lost their faith in us), and then persevere through the storms we face. Find a way to ride out the storm. Set your sails with the wind and keep your eyes on the destination. Even if you feel your boat has sunk and all is lost, hold on to your life preserver and keep swimming. It isn’t over till it’s over. As long as you have breath…there is hope. Never lose sight of that.

Avoid the temptation to have a pity party. Everyone has issues to deal with. Learn the power of helping others with their struggles even when you think your world is spinning out of control. There is something magical about encouraging others in their storm that actually helps calm you in yours. Try it and you will see that what I am suggesting is not crazy….but therapeutic. It works!

I pray that as you read this that you are energized and regardless of what you have faced thus far and what quarter of life you are in that you finish strong.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Integrity

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Integrity dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

When I was growing up a man’s word meant something. Deals were sealed with a handshake, and it was understood that you would do what you said you would do. Times have changed. Now it is not good enough to give someone your word or shake on a deal. You have contracts that have to be scrutinized by lawyers, it has to be signed, witnessed, and notarized. Agreements these days are written with loopholes and it seems that integrity is no longer the norm. In fact, if you do a handshake deal, you are considered a fool by many.

What happened to integrity? When did it go out with the trash and become something not held in high esteem?  I am not sure I have an answer for that, but I do believe we live in a lawsuit-happy society. You can’t turn on the TV or Radio without hearing a commercial for a lawyer who wants you to sue someone for something. Have you been hit by an 18 wheeler? Have you taken a particular drug and had serious side effects? Have you or someone you know been wronged by your Mama?  OK, I made the last one up….but you get the idea.

I do appreciate what reputable lawyers do for us, but the ambulance chasers give their industry a bad rap. I am sure that the good lawyers roll their eyes just like the rest of us. But, this is not likely to change any time soon. There is too much money to be made in them there hills.

Here are my recommendations in regards to making agreements:

  • Be a person of integrity. Don’t go into any agreement with the thought of how you can get out of it. Do everything within your power to keep your word.
  • Deal with other people of integrity that you can trust.
  • When the time does call for a formal contract, make it good for all parties concerned.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I do believe that we can be people of integrity if our moral compass is not discarded. Let’s make decisions that are for the benefit of all, not just for ourselves. Let’s set the right examples for our children and grandchildren. They are watching closely what we do and how we treat others.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes