One of the Greatest Gifts

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

If I asked you what are the greatest gifts you can give to someone, the list would probably not include this one: managing expectations…and yet it is definitely one of the greatest gifts we can give to anybody.

When you manage expectations of others, you do several critical things for them:

  • It reveals who you are to them.
  • It lets them know what you are going to do.
  • It lets them know when it will be done.
  • It lets them know what the outcome will look like.
  • It gives them a sense of peace and purpose.

That is a pretty nice gift to give anyone, don’t you think? The beauty is, it cost you nothing to give…just some effort. And yet, how often do we find ourselves disillusioned with someone because they did not communicate properly? Just this week I had three girls that I teach that were all in tears because their parents had assured them that they would be at the graduation ceremony for them…and then no showed. I gave them a group hug and told them that I was going to be their family that day. While I was glad that I was there for them, what an opportunity the parents missed. Those scars will not easily be healed in their tender hearts.

Whether you are a CEO, Manager, Principal, Teacher, Salesman, Mom, Dad, or just a Human Being, learn the art of managing expectations. I know that life throws curve balls from time to time and adjustments have to be made accordingly. Just communicate before the 11th hour what is happening and don’t make it a habit. When it becomes habitual, you lose all credibility. In the case of the three girls I mentioned above, a call to the school could have been made to soften the blow and then explain what happened to them in detail later, but that did not happen…obviously.

When it comes to children, we have a sacred responsibility to communicate fully with them. If we don’t, the outcomes are not going to be good for anyone. You can take that to the bank. If you don’t manage expectations, you reap the results of hurt feelings, anger, broken relationships, and chaos. Does anyone want that? Care enough to communicate.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Optimist and the Pessimist

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

We all fall into one of two categories. We may be a combination of the two, but we are primarily one or the other. I have heard people who are pessimists justify being that way by saying they are realists. Hmmmm. I think they are wrong for the following reasons:

  • Pessimism is rooted in fear. Optimism is rooted in hope.
  • Pessimists think they can’t. Optimists think either they can or they might.
  • Pessimists wallow in the dark. Optimists find the light.
  • Pessimists tend to be self-absorbed. Optimists tend to focus on others.
  • Pessimists love to draw you into their drama. Optimists avoid drama unless it is at the movies.
  • Pessimists follow up your advice with, “Yes, but….” They have an excuse for every option you throw out. Optimists listen without rebuttal and consider the options.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” 
― James Branch CabellThe Silver Stallion

The good news is that we can choose to be optimistic. There is a scripture that tells us to take every thought captive. Let that sink in for a moment. If you could take every thought captive, what would your world look like? Would it change your outlook on things? Would it change the way you talk to yourself?  Would it change the way you see and treat others? I am betting it would!

Next time you have a negative thought about yourself, someone else, or a situation you are in, take that thought captive. Replace it with something positive. Having an attitude of gratitude goes hand in hand with optimism. Learn to be grateful for the little things in life. Ungrateful people are always pessimistic. Which will you choose today? Will it be the glass half full, or the glass half empty?

Zig Ziglar said we need a “check up from the neck up.” I love that. Zig called pessimism stinkin’ thinkin.’ It is only when we get rid of it that we can see life as it really is: a thing of joy, beauty, hope, and love. That is a reality worth pursuing, isn’t it?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Things My Parents Taught Me

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Recently a lady asked me, “What things did your parents say to you that you hated?” That is a thought provoking question and frankly, I did not really want to relive those things again, but I did. It did not take long to remember some things that they said. I thought to myself that I would never say them myself, but life has a way of bringing things out of us that we don’t like.

  • “Because I said so.” I particularly hated that one because it did not leave the door open for discussion. I knew if I said anything else my seat of learning might meet the board of education. Today I try to give kids the opportunity to dialog, but some kids just like to argue. For the debaters I sometimes have to resort to the “Because I said so” answer. In time they will hopefully understand the love and wisdom of my decision in their behalf.
  • “Don’t talk back to me.” This is the cousin of “Because I said so” and has the same effect of shutting down a discussion. I try to use it only as a last resort.
  • “Sit still!” This was an impossible task for me when I was little and it still is at times.
  • “Take your nap.” The funny thing is now I LOVE nap time. I just wish I could take them during the week.

Things they taught me that were good and have stuck with me all my life:

  • Love God and put Him first in all you do.
  • Love your family and be there for each other.
  • Be on time. That means be early.
  • Be thankful.
  • Take care of what you have.
  • Be a giver. Help those less fortunate.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your faith with others.
  • Spend time with the people you love because time goes by too quickly.
  • Develop strong friendships. Don’t take them for granted.
  • Use your God-given talents.
  • Work hard but enjoy the journey.
  • Pray without ceasing. Pray about everything and for everyone…especially our leaders.
  • Trust God’s Word.
  • Don’t live a life of fear or regret.
  • Respect others.
  • Respect yourself.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Declaration of Dependence

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to dissolve our dependence on self, we acknowledge that we depend on God almighty.

He and He alone is our Creator, Lord, and Master. These truths are self-evident, and yet many reject the truth. As for me and my house, we don’t just accept it; we embrace it. We proclaim it.

May the Lord God be with us, guide us, protect us, and deliver us from evil. May He give us the physical and spiritual food we need this day. May He protect our hearts and minds and deliver us from temptation. May He forgive us where we fail Him and where we fail each other.

I bow before you Father, and ask your mercy on me, my family, my country, and the world you lovingly created. I pray for the hearts of all men to be turned to You and that Your peace and love will rule our lives. I reaffirm this day my total dependence on You. Amen.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

You Know You Are Old

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

  • If you ever called flip-flops thongs. Years ago my daughter asked me what I was looking for and I told her, “My thongs.” She got this horrified look on her face and informed me that they were called flip-flops, not thongs!
  • If you remember getting your first TV. It was bulky, had a black and white picture, and got 3 channels.
  • If you remember TV, movies, and music not laced with sex, profanity, or extreme bloodshed and yet they were classics.
  • If you remember what you used to do before cell phones and the internet.
  • If you had to eat what Mamma fixed or you didn’t eat at all.
  • If they still had prayer and discipline in schools.
  • If you watched the astronauts walking on the moon for the first time.
  • If you remember where you were when JFK was shot.
  • If you ever have said to someone, “Back in my day….”
  • If you remember when Roe vs. Wade became law.
  • If the serious behavior issues in your school were running in the halls, chewing gum, or talking too much.
  • If your school or car did not have air conditioning when you were growing up.
  • If you knew it was time for dinner because the sun was setting.
  • If it seemed that everything you ate was deep fried, full of fat, covered in gravy, and mighty tasty.
  • If a handshake was as good as a signed contract.
  • If you remember when people stood for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.
  • If your parents let you play outside all day without worry.
  • If one of your first bikes was a Stingray.
  • If you clipped playing cards to the spokes of your bike to make it sound cool.
  • If you thought that marijuana would never be legalized.
  • If you every played Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, or Pacman.
  • If Etch A Sketch was your first computer.
  • If you remember gas for under $0.25 a gallon.
  • If you ever ate Swanson TV Dinners.
  • If you don’t give a flip what other people think anymore.
  • If people who visit tell you that the TV is awfully loud.
  • If you know what this ad was about: “A little dab will do ya.”
  • If you wondered: “Who were those old people at your class reunion?”

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Hope

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Hope is a funny thing. You have to have it. You can’t live without it. It is the air that our spirit needs to breathe. Hope gives courage, strength, and the will for us to go on.

There was a story about a boy who was playing his first baseball game. His Dad watched as the other team scored run after run. Finally, when the score was 18 to 0, his Dad went over to the bench to console his Son. He asked: “How are you doing Son? I see your team is down 18 runs.” The Son responded: “No problem, Dad. We haven’t been up to bat yet!” LOL. Yes, it may have been delusional, but it was full of hope.

“Where there is no hope for the future, there is no power in the present.” John Maxwell.

How can we expect to live lives of fulfillment and success without hope?

Here are a few things to remember when it comes to living with hope:

  • Just because you can’t see a solution does not mean there isn’t one. Find the light switch if you want to see in the dark.
  • When we are tested and stretched to our limits, we come face to face with who we really are. Stress reveals our character.
  • Hope is contagious. When you are around someone who needs hope, you just have to remind them that there IS hope. It is like giving water to a person dying of thirst.
  • There are a couple of things to remember: 1. This too shall pass. That in itself should give you hope. 2. The mountain you see in front of you may not be a mountain at all. In reality, it may just be a molehill. It all depends on how you look at it. From an ant’s perspective, it IS a mountain. From God’s perspective, it is NOTHING He can’t handle.

My hope for you is that whatever you are facing, whatever you are worried about, and whatever you have to decide upon, let hope fill your heart. Let go of the worry, fear, and anxiety you have embraced. Come to know the meaning of the word Shalom! It is not just what is Shalom, but who is Shalom. That too will give you hope!

When you think you have no hope, think again.

Dan Skognes

Own It

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

I got pulled into a 4th grade class to cover a teacher who was out for the afternoon. One of the assignments was for the kids to get on their Chromebooks and complete a book report they had been working on.

Everything seemed to be going well until I was told that some of the kids were looking at inappropriate things instead of doing their report. When I went back to confront them, the finger pointing immediately began.

I looked at one boy and asked him if he was on an inappropriate site. He said, “They were on it too!” LOL. I just said, “Buddy, I am not talking to them or about them. I am talking to you. If you messed up, fess up. Own your mistakes and make it right.”

He would not look at me in the eyes. It reminded me of my dog when she has made a mess in the house. She goes and crawls under the bed. I am sure he wanted to crawl under the desk, but there was no escape. He just nodded.

One of the biggest lessons a kid can learn is to own their decisions. They will never mature and become responsible adults until they do. The world has too many adults with kid attitudes. I try to model for the kids when I make a mistake: I admit it and let them know I am human too (even though I am Superman). If it is warranted, I apologize.

We have to monitor kids on the internet. Even with the filters they put on them it seems that evil is two clicks away at all times, just waiting for them to see what is waiting behind door number two. The internet has a lot of helpful information, but it also has a great deal of evil to corrupt the minds of kids (and adults for that matter).

I wish someone would invent a kid friendly internet. I know there are sites that are kid friendly, but I mean something that had no back doors to open. Just wishful thinking, but if they did, they would become both rich and famous. Who knows? Maybe someday…

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Are you a “some day” type of person? You dream about things you want to do, who you want to be, or places you want to go…then say: “Some day.” The problem with some day is that for many people, some day never comes.

Do you remember the movie, The Bucket List? It was a great movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Both men were diagnosed with a terminal illness in the movie. What they did with that information had a great message for everyone: Make a bucket list and do it now.

This is great advice whether you are terminally ill or if you are in perfect health. Why? Because we are not promised tomorrow. Too often we put off the things we would love to do and make excuses like, “I don’t have the time, the money, or anyone to do it with.”

Let’s be honest, if you are looking for an excuse, they are pretty easy to come up with. One of the ladies at work surprised me with the fact that she had recently gone sky diving!  I have no desire to jump out of a perfectly good plane, but I loved the fact that she did something on her bucket list. I asked her if she was going to swim with sharks. She laughed and said, “No, but I am going to bungee jump.” Again…not my cup of tea, but good for her! LOL.

Quit daydreaming about what you want to do, and start the wheels in motion. Your some day is today. Make your bucket list. Take that trip. Get that degree. Ask that girl out. Whatever it is, quit procrastinating and do it. What is the worst that can happen? If you tried and failed, at least you tried, right? That beats getting to the end of your life and saying, “I wish I had done…(whatever it is).”

What is on your bucket list? What are you doing about it? Don’t let woulda, coulda, shoulda be your epitaph. If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

MYOB

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

We seem to live in a world where people want to stick their noses where they don’t belong. The other day I was at the grocery store and watched a guy go ballistic on another man because he turned into a parking space going the opposite direction. Apparently in his mind this was a cardinal sin and he should be severely beaten for it.

To his credit, the man who was being verbally assaulted did not react. He remained in his car and ignored the tirade. I watched the angry man stomp away still muttering to himself what a dumb *@#$ this guy was. I just shook my head. One of these days that man is going to have someone clean his clock for him (whip his butt).

The man who remained calm did nothing wrong. He did not cause any traffic problems and was in his legal right to make the turn. If only we could learn to Mind Our Own Business. We are not the police. We are not the judge and jury. We are never right in taking the law into our own hands.

I had a 3rd grader getting his nose into another kid’s stuff the other day. He loudly denounced the other kid for something he thought he should not be doing. I just looked at the bully and said, “You know what that is? It is noneya.”  He looked blankly at me as if to say, “What?”  I said, “It is noneya business!”  The class roared laughing, but I told them I was serious and that they needed to stop poking their noses in where they don’t belong. I told him, “You got your hands full just dealing with YOU.”

There are times when we do need to speak up if there is a true injustice, bullying, criminal activity, etc., but too often I think we try to take on the role of policemen. Let’s let the professionals do their job. In the long run it will be a lot safer for everyone…especially in Texas.

Just my thoughts….and I know what some of you are already saying to me: “It’s noneya!”  LOL.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Childlike

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

It is funny to watch adults interact and see the similarities in children. Apparently some adults never grow up. There is a wonder in being childlike. You find joy in the simple things of life. You love to laugh, play, and have fun. You are a learning sponge and soak up the things you are exposed to. Those are all great things.

The opposite is not so good. It is being childish. It is when adults are selfish, mean-spirited, unforgiving, and judgmental. You expect it in kids, but when adults act that way it is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it?

I am writing this blog because of recent attacks on me, my friends, and our President. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I can’t condone people using a public forum to bash people they don’t know and certainly don’t have all the facts.

One of the things I teach kids regularly is that they don’t have to like each other, but they do have to show respect to one another. We don’t allow bullying and name calling in our kids, and yet I see adults doing this on a daily basis. This is childish behavior. If adults don’t set the proper example for the kids, how can we ever expect them to grow up to be responsible adults? The odds are stacked against them if their main role models are basically kids in grownup clothing.

I want to always be childlike. Part of me never wants to grow up, but I hope and pray that I don’t become childish in the process. If I ever do, feel free to call me on it…just do it offline. I don’t mind admitting my mistakes, but nobody wants to be publicly humiliated.

I don’t expect everyone will agree with my stance on this blog. There seems to always be those intent on sowing seeds of discord. The world is full of haters. They would rather debate than discuss things openly. Life is too short to be childish.

Excuse me. I am going to put on my big boy pants. Stay tuned.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes