Dream Stealers

Posted in Business, Motivational

Dream Stealers dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

We live in a world of dream stealers.  Have you ever shared a dream you had with a well-meaning friend and had them throw cold water all over it?  Why do people do that to others?  They will tell you, “Oh, I tried that and it did not work out so well.”  Or, “I heard that they were not a reputable group to work with.”  Or, “I don’t think you are cut out for that.”

Don’t listen to them.  It is bad enough when you listen to a dream stealer, but are you your own dream stealer?  Do you talk yourself out of trying before you even start?  Don’t do that.  Don’t miss the opportunity to find your destiny.  Make your dreams come true. They won’t come true if you don’t believe in them, and they definitely won’t come true if you don’t pursue them.

Principle 1.  If you have a dream that you are passionate about, don’t let anyone or anything talk you out of it.  Stay focused.  Don’t lose your faith. Believe in yourself, and believe in your dream.

Principle 2.  God has given you a dream that is unique to YOU.  It is your job to figure out what that is and then pursue it with all your heart.

Principle 3.  Dream stealers are not winners.  Why listen to someone that is trying to bring you down instead of build you up?  Find people who can share your dream to encourage you.

Principle 4.  If you have a dream, and you want it to come true, you have to have a plan and an unwavering desire to achieve it.  Persevere and stay the course over, around, and through the obstacles that would hold you back.

When someone asks you how are you doing, do you want to say, “OK?” or would you rather reply with a smile, “Living the dream!”

Dream it.  Believe it.  Pursue it.  Live it.  Here is hoping that you guard your dreams as something sacred….because they are.  They are what you were created for.

P.S.  Please note that there is a difference between a dream and a fantasy.  A dream is something that God has given you.  A fantasy is believing you can sing like Celine Dion and you really sound like a cat that is being skinned.  I hope you know the difference. If you don’t, ask someone who is NOT family to tell you.  You don’t want to end up on the blooper reel of America’s Got Talent. LOL.


Dan Skognes

Get In The Game

Posted in Business, Motivational

Get In The Game dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant  motivation blogger speaker

Perhaps you are a benchwarmer by choice, and perhaps you are there because you just don’t have the skills to compete.  If you are in sales or sales management, you were BORN to compete.  You are wired to WIN.  So why are you on the bench?

Principle 1:  Benchwarmers have potential, but potential does not translate to winning the game.  We all have potential.  Some of us have natural talents and abilities that help us win more than we lose.  In baseball, if you bat 300 you are a hall of famer.  That is striking out 2 out of 3 times.  We have to strike out before we hit the home runs.  Take the swings.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Principle 2: Benchwarmers need a good coach.  If you find yourself sitting on the sidelines watching others winning the game, get on a team with a coach that will help you, guide you, encourage you, challenge you, and kick your butt when necessary.  Most good coaches I have had in life have walked in my shoes and made all the mistakes I have encountered.  Listen to them.  Watch them.  Follow their lead.  I tell new recruits…”If you are teachable and coachable, I will help you succeed.  If you are not, then you are on your own.  I can’t help someone that does not want to be helped, but I will go to the ends of the earth to help someone that is self-motivated and open to learning.”

Principle 3: Benchwarmers need to hone their skills.  If your job is worth doing, do it well.  Be a professional.  Continually read and work on your sales skills.  I don’t care how long you have been doing your job.  Everyone needs to continue to learn and grow.  If you think you know it all, you will find yourself in a very small club….because nobody knows it all.

So, are you in the game?  Are you working on your skills on a daily basis?  Are you fully engaged, or are you sitting on the bench watching others do what you could and should be doing?  If you are sitting there, what are you doing?  Seriously, get off your butt, and get busy.  If you want your life to have impact and meaning not only for yourself but for others, get off the bench.  Get in the game.  I am pulling for you.


Dan Skognes

Lessons From Laila And Molly

Posted in General, Relationships

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I love my dogs.  They are more fun than most people I know.  They love us unconditionally, and they have the ability to get very excited over the little things in life…like taking a ride in the car.  You would think they had won the Dog Lotto and were getting Milk Bones for life.  They run around the room when we are getting ready to go, and are so excited I can hardly get their collars on.  It is hilarious to watch them.

We try to take them to the dog park regularly because they love the journey and the destination.  They hang their heads out the window and just love the air in their face.  When we get to the park, the first thing they do is to greet all the other dogs.

They also have the uncanny ability to sleep most of the day.  Apparently, they need that much rest, but I marvel at their ability to just lay down any time and any place and fall asleep.

Lessons I have learned from my dogs:

Lesson 1.  Love unconditionally.  Express your love to others every time you see them and express it with your whole heart, expecting nothing in return.

Lesson 2.  Take joy in the little blessings in life that come your way.  I am not saying to stick your head out the window if you are driving, but if you are the passenger…go for it.

Lesson 3.  Take joy in meeting new people and seeing old friends.  There is vitality and life in community.  Give to it and you will receive from it.

Lesson 4.  Enjoy the journey AND the destination.  Count your blessings along the way.  You have a lot to be thankful for.

Lesson 5.  I don’t want to advise you to sleep all day.  We don’t need to rest that much, but we do need to learn to relax and get the rest we need….any time, any place.  Naps are your friend.

There is a reason that dogs are called Man’s Best Friend.  They will stick by you when everyone else has abandoned you.  Love them and learn from them.  They are a wonderful gift that God has given to us to encourage us, to love us, and to teach us to love unconditionally.  After all, that is how God loves us.


Dan Skognes


Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Dont Stop dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

These two words have different meaning depending on how you say them.  You have probably said to someone that was bugging you….”Don’t……..Stop!”  But what if you said, “Don’t stop”?  It totally changes the meaning, doesn’t it?

You have heard people say, “I am going through Hell.”  Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through Hell, keep going.”  I would add…..”Don’t……Stop!”

In Texas they have a bike ride every year in the middle of August, the hottest time of year in this state.  It usually exceeds 100 degrees. The Hotter’N Hell Hundred is an annual bicycle ride in Wichita Falls. It is held each year on the 4th or 5th Saturday in August (always 9 days before Labor Day) and includes professional as well as amateur riders. The professional racers ride a 100-mile road race, as well as time trials. For the amateur riders, there are road routes of 100 miles, 100K, 50 miles, 25 miles, and 10K.

Approximately 10,000 to 14,000 riders participate each year, making the Hotter’N Hell Hundred the largest sanctioned century bicycle ride in the US. 2009’s Hotter N Hell had over 14,000 riders. What in the world would possess that many people to push themselves in that kind of weather? What are they thinking?  Every year there are numerous cases of heat exhaustion.  What do they all have in common?  They don’t stop (unless physically unable to proceed).

There are two types of Hell we go through in this life.  One is the result of choices we make, and one is the result of circumstances beyond our control (natural disasters, violent crimes, etc.).  Either way, the advice is still the same:

Principle 1.  If you are going through Hell, DON’T focus on where you have been or where you are now, focus on the goal ahead.

Principle 2.  If you are going through Hell, STOP listening to the voices that are trying to hold you down and hold you back.  It may even be your OWN voice you have to stop listening to.  Change the way you talk to yourself if that is the case.

Principle 3.  If you are going through Hell, DON’T STOP.  It won’t get any cooler staying there. Hell has no fans and no air conditioning.

Sometimes perseverance is all you have left.  Take one more step through Hell.  Don’t stay there.  We all have our times of dealing with Hell on earth.  My prayer for you is that you find Shalom (perfect peace)….and some air conditioning!


Dan Skognes

The Principle of Opposites

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

The Principle of Opposites dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

We have all been given an amazing gift, the gift of creativity.  You may be thinking, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”  Well, you are very simply wrong!  You were born to create, and you do create something every day.

We get to choose what to create.  The cool thing about getting your creative juices flowing is that it is very natural.  It just flows.  That is why songwriters can sit down and pen a tune that impacts the world, and it takes them 10 minutes to do it.

There is a downside to creativity, however.  For every good thing we create there is an opposite possibility.  I call this the Principle of Opposites. We have to choose what we are creating, good or evil.  There is a wonderful book that I highly recommend by Andy Andrews.  It is called The Butterfly Effect.  The premise of the book is that every life matters.  Every action has a reaction, no matter how small.  It is a very profound book.

You choose life or you choose death, peace or calamity, laughter or tears, joy or misery.  You want to know the secret, right?  It is the battery!  I have not lost my mind, stay with me.

A battery only works one way, correct?  If you put in a battery upside down it does not work.  If you hook up the jumper cables backwards, it could literally explode and kill you. It does not work!  Yet that is exactly what people are trying to do every day.  Hook up their batteries backwards!

What happens when you get it right?  Energy flows.  So here is the takeaway. Get grounded with God.  Jesus is the jumper cable to get us connected, and the Holy Spirit is the energy we need to accomplish our purpose here on earth. Properly connected we get creative.

The Creator has given the created the gift of creation for two purposes.  First, that we might know the Creator’s character.  After all, He created everything.  The second reason is that we might use our gift for good, serve others, and introduce them to Him.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  We are like extension cords that have the ability to charge multiple things all at once. People can plug in to us and get charged. How cool is that?

So, how is your battery connection?  Are you hooked up correctly?  Are you creating peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and self-control, or the opposite?  I have a pair of jumper cables if you need Him.


Dan Skognes

What Is The One Thing?

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

One Thing dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

I was at a leadership conference recently, and they brought up one of my favorite movies. Remember the movie, City Slickers?  What a great flick! Billy Crystal was going through a mid-life crisis along with his buddies, so they decided to go on a cross-country cattle drive to “find themselves.”  One of the most memorable scenes is when Curly (the gruff old cattleman) and Billy are riding along just talking man to man.  Curly is obviously content with who he is….and Billy wants to know the secret.

Curly looks at him and tells him that the secret to life is one thing….and he hold up his index finger.  Billy looks at it and says, “Your finger?”  Funny line….but Curly says, “No, but you have to figure out what it is.”  It is the thing that drives us to excellence…and the thing that can drive you crazy if you miss it. My oldest brother died at the age of 32.  His last words were, “What a wasted life.”  Pretty tragic, isn’t it?  It does not have to be that way.

We all are born with that deep question of “Why are we here?”  What is our purpose?  Who am I?  Some of us try to find ourselves in our work.  Some of us try to find ourselves in our play time (sports, fishing, hunting, travel, etc).  Some of us try to find ourselves in someone else.

The funny thing is, God created just one YOU.  Even if you have an identical twin, you are still YOU.  You are unique.  You were created on purpose, for a purpose.  God wants you to be YOU. Why do so many people have a hard time just knowing who they are?  I think the problem is that people are looking for the answer in all the wrong places.  There is actually a simple answer, and Curly was pointing in the right direction for the answer.  I will give you a clue.  It is not all about YOU.  It is not all about ME.  It is not all about anyone or anything else here on earth.

For some people, they think their purpose is to be a great parent, a great teacher, a great business leader, a great athlete, a great whatever.  But isn’t there more to life than that?  Have you ever won a top award and thought to yourself, “Is that all there is?”  I have.

The one thing, if you ask me, is to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  If we get that right, then life makes sense.  We have purpose.  We have direction.  We have meaning to all the craziness that life can throw at us.  We may not understand it all, but our faith sustains us through it all.

If we know Jesus, we have a compass that gives us the True North direction, not just relying on the map and trying to navigate our way through life on our own (as Dr.Tony Baron, author and lecturer put it).  We have to find our True North. Giving God all that we are and all that we have, then following Him and letting Him lead us…to me, that makes sense.

Who we are is not defined by what we do. But, if you know who you are, you will fulfill your God given destiny in your work.  How cool is that?

If I can instill hope in a hopeless world, then I think my life will have been worth the journey.  I think that is what God has called all of us to do in our own way….with our own unique talents, with our own unique footprint, our own unique voice.  We are to be the light-bearers in the darkness.

So if you were sitting in the saddle, talking with Curly, and he asked you, what is YOUR one thing?  What would YOU say?


Dan Skognes

Is Your Wood Wet?

Posted in Business, Motivational

Is Your Wood Wet

 Many years ago I went camping with some buddies.  One of the first things we decided to do was to build a campfire.  The only problem was that it had rained and the wood was very wet.  So, what were we to do?  We had to find some dry kindling, something that would ignite the fire.  Finally we found enough dry leaves and sticks that we were able to get a small flame going under the wet wood.  Lots of smoke erupted as the water evaporated off the wood, and it finally burst into a healthy flame.

Motivation is like wood.  If you are un-motivated (wet wood), it takes a lot to get the fire going.

Principle 1.  You can only motivate someone who wants to be motivated.  We have all experienced trying to get someone (spouse, child, employee, friend) to do something that made perfect sense, but they simply did not want to do it, so we both get frustrated.  It is especially frustrating to see someone dousing themselves with water when someone is trying to help them. You can’t light a fire if they don’t want it lit.

Principle 2.  Starting a fire with dry wood is easier than wet wood.  The same holds true for people in regards to motivation.  If you start with an open heart and mind, you are ready to receive the motivation (the fire).

Principle 3.  It is easier to keep motivated than to get motivated. Once a fire is lit, keep it burning.

Principle 4.  Once you become motivated, others will naturally be attracted to you. Just like a moth is attracted to the light, so others will be attracted to you.  They will want what you have.

How do you stay motivated (keep the fire lit)?

1.    Start with an open heart and open mind to self-improvement.  Work on making you a better person. (Start with dry wood)

2.    Read motivational books, magazines, and articles.  If you fill your mind with positive motivating thoughts, then you are more likely to be motivated. (The kindling)

3.    Watch motivational movies.  I love films like Hoosiers, Rudy, Miracle, The Blind Side, just to name a few.  (The spark)

4.    Surround yourself with motivated people.  If you hang out with lazy people, you are probably going to become lazy yourself. Hang with people that are self-motivated. (Stirring the coals)

5.    Attend motivational seminars and lectures. (Adding wood to the fire)

6.    Journal.  When you are having a down day, go back and read the successes you have had.  It is always good to remember that tough times come for us all, but they don’t last forever.

7.    Quit the negative self-talk.  Next time you find yourself beating yourself up for mistakes you have made, STOP IT.  Start by forgiving yourself. We are all human.  We all make mistakes. Speak life over yourself by affirming all the positive things about yourself.  This isn’t about pride or strutting your stuff.  It is about affirmation and believing the best about yourself.  If you don’t believe the best about yourself, how do you expect others to?

So, as you look at your own life, are you on fire?  Self-motivated?  Purpose-driven?  Or, is your wood wet?  The question is, if it is wet, what are you going to do about it?  It has to begin with you and your own desire to improve.  So, quit making excuses.  Quit blaming others for where you are, and light the fire…then keep it lit.


Dan Skognes

What Makes A Good Mentor?

Posted in Business, Motivational

What Makes A Good Mentor dan skognes leadership deveopment trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

I don’t know if you have been fortunate enough in life to have a good mentor, but I have. I have had several people who have taken me under their wing at various times in my career to help, to guide, to prod, to encourage, to push me out of my comfort zone into areas that were at times uncomfortable…but eventually very profitable.

I really can’t put a price on what that means to me, but it is worth it’s weight in gold to have someone do that for you. Everyone needs someone to believe in them…especially when you are new and don’t believe in yourself yet.

Early in my career I had one particular manager that I admire still to this day. A good manager is really more than a manager. He inspires, he teaches, he models what needs to be done. And probably most importantly, he believes in me. He works hard, he stays positive when most people would have given up or quit. He keeps his sense of humor and is able to laugh at himself. He is fiercely competitive, and encourages me to step up. He doesn’t have to kick me in the butt to get me going because I enjoy working with him. I look forward to what I am going to learn, and I learn a lot from him as a result.  This guy was all that and more.  He was a friend.

Bottom line is….that is the type of mentor I want to be. I want to leave that type of legacy. Whether it be with my kids, my family members, my neighbors, my friends, or my co-workers. I want them to say those type of things about me before I die.

There is an old joke about three old guys who sat around talking about what they wanted people to say about them when they were gone. The first guy said, “I want to have them say I remember he was a great father.” The second guy said, “I want to have them say I remember he was a great leader.” The third man was quiet for a moment then said, “I want them to say, LOOK, he is moving!”

Made ya laugh. :o)

Ok….start MOVING. Be a mentor to your friends, your family, your co-workers. Sew into them the seeds of greatness that you see in them. Then water them and nurture them. The rewards you get back are priceless.


Dan Skognes

Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships

Can You Hear Me Now dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

This applies to our business, our families, and our relationships.  Aren’t our relationships a lot like that commercial where we are shouting, “Can you hear me now?”  Increased volume does not necessarily correlate to increased understanding.  Truth is, sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout.

You’ve probably heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately.

The problem is we get so busy talking that we fail to listen.  If you find yourself justifying your position continually, perhaps you need to stop, take a step back, and just listen.

We are noise junkies.  Radio, TV, Phones, CDs, MP3s, etc., etc.  Occasionally and regularly turn it all off.  Get silent and listen. 

Do you take time to listen to God or are you just continually giving Him your wish list?  He is speaking to each of us and wants relationship, but that can’t happen without communication.  And that can’t happen without listening.

Much of the problem we have in our relationships with each other boils down to lack of listening.  If we sincerely listened to each other to the point of understanding and empathy, do you think that would resolve much of the arguments going on at this very moment?  Of course it would.  The problem we have is that we are wired to defend ourselves, so listening goes out the window when a disagreement occurs.

I am challenging you next time you are headed towards and argument, take a deep breath, step back, and force yourself to be silent…and just listen.  Feed back without adding your own spin to clarify that you interpreted what you just heard correctly.  What you believe determines what you hear.  So, make sure what you believe is true.

You can choose to be right, or you can choose to have relationships.  Many people have destroyed not only their own lives, but also the lives of others over this one flaw – insisting on being right.  Thus, listening requires us to lay down our rights and consider the other side.  I am encouraging you to choose relationship.  That starts with listening.


Dan Skognes

Staying Positive In A Negative World

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Staying Positive In A Negative World dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

Have you noticed how hard it is to stay positive these days?  We are bombarded with negativity.  You can’t turn on the TV or Radio, or pick up a newspaper or magazine without hearing that “the sky is falling.” Bad news abounds.  In newspaper terms, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

So how do you keep from being drawn in to all of the negative chatter?  There is a morbid part of all of us that wants to hear it.  Not sure why, but who of us has not passed a bad accident on the road and been one of the goose-neckers?  I try not to do that….but can’t say I have never done it.

One of the best pieces of advice from a manager came early in my career, and I was getting ready to attend my first sales meeting with the company.  He told me, “Dan, don’t hang out with the negative people.  Find the positive folks and spend time with them.”   He did not explain why he said that, but he obviously knew that misery loves company, and was trying to protect me from being tainted in my thinking.

Who of us as parents have not had that talk with our kids or our grandkids about being careful of who you hang with?  Why?  Because evil company corrupts good behavior.  Unhappy people don’t want to be alone.  They want someone wallowing in the mire with them.

Isn’t it the same way even as adults?  Don’t we have an even higher need to guard our hearts and minds?  Is there some reason that we are drawn to the dark side of life? 

I believe that life is a challenge for most of us.  We all have our issues and our problems.  Why compound that with surrounding yourself with negative thoughts and behaviors?  I have enough problems with my negative “self-talk” without someone else chiming in.

Our mind is pretty incredible, and I know that what I feed is going to grow.  If I feed my mind positive thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc., then my behavior is at least going to have a chance of following in that direction.  Likewise, if I feed my mind negative things, then that is going to be reflected in what I believe and what I do. 

Someone once said that when we are squeezed, what is inside is going to come out.  When you are squeezed…under pressure…what comes out?  Blessings or curses?

I am not an angel…and I have been known to say something that I have regretted later, but I am keenly aware that what I say and do affects not just me, but everyone around me.  Who of us has not walked into a room and you could cut the tension with a knife?  Or visa-versa, walked into a room and you just felt complete peace?  How do you explain that?  Well, despite what you may believe about the spirit world, I believe we are in a battle for our souls, our hearts, and our minds.  There are forces that are at war with us that want nothing less than our total destruction.

Now you may not believe that, and that is one of the great things about this country.  We can choose to disagree and still respect one another.  But if you think what I just said is hogwash, ask yourself this, “Have you ever said something, and immediately thought, what made me say THAT?”  As my grandkids would say, “Just sayin.”  If the shoe fits, wear it.

So how do we stay positive in a negative world?  I will tell you what I have learned.  This is not an all-inclusive list, but I think you will have to agree, it beats the alternative:

Principle 1.  Put God first in your life.  If Christ is not at the center….that means you are….and you can’t be God, as much as you might want to be.   

Principle 2.  Put others before yourself.  Learn to serve others.  That has a wonderful effect on other people and will automatically generate positive things for both of you.

Principle 3.  Be thankful.  A grateful heart will help you remember all the things that God has done for you and is doing for you, so have an attitude of gratitude.

Principle 4.  Choose your friends wisely.  If you want positive thoughts and feelings, spend time with people that have peace in their lives.  There is a reason they have peace, and a reason you don’t.

Principle 5.  When everything is spinning out of control, spend time with your Heavenly Father, and have someone that you can vent to.  Everybody needs to vent from time to time.  Just remember….vent…don’t spew.

Like I said before, you don’t have to agree with what I believe, but think about what I have suggested, especially if you find yourself being negative most of the time.  We all have a choice.  What do you choose?


Dan Skognes