The Roller Coaster or the Scenic Train

Posted in Relationships, Spiritual

The Roller Coaster or the Scenic Train dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x240)

I used to love riding roller coasters.  The first one I rode was in the 7th grade.  It was the giant roller coaster at the State Fair of Texas.  I was there with my buddies…and none of us had been on it before.  It took us about 30 minutes of watching the cars go round and round and listening to the screams (which were very unnerving to a kid).  Finally we decided to ride it.  Wow.  What a rush!  Naturally, we got off and went to get back in line and ride it again.  We rode it about 4 times that day.

That was a lot of fun, but what if your life was a roller coaster ride, and you could not get off?  You probably know someone close to you whose life is like that.  Always drama going on.  Lots of screaming.  Constant chaos.

On the flip side, have you ever been on a scenic train?  They are tranquil.  They are calm.  They are on a track going at a reasonable pace, but no screaming, no chaos, no drama.  Instead of the extreme turns, dips, highs, and lows, the train moves forward in a methodic method with the occupants enjoying the ride and even sharing a cup of coffee.

There is a place for roller coasters, but the place is in the theme parks and fairs, not your everyday life.  If your life is a roller coaster ride, how can you get off and get on the scenic train ride?

  • First you have to recognize that you are in a vicious circle that won’t end unless you get off and stay off.  You have to get off the ride and refuse to get back on.  Whatever is causing you to ride the roller coaster, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or mental / emotional disorders, get some help.  You may not be able to get off the ride by yourself.
  • Book a trip on a scenic train ride and see what a normal life looks like.  Being around people that are calm has a calming effect on you.  Learn to recognize that abnormal is not normal. Life does not have to be full of chaos and commotion.  It can be peaceful, fulfilling, beautiful, and fun.
  • Get spiritual help.  If you don’t have a relationship with God, your chances of having a ride on the scenic train are slim, and your chances of staying on the scenic train are none.  The void in everyone’s heart can only be filled by God.  It won’t be filled by things or other people.  No amount of money can buy you the peace that comes from knowing God and having a relationship with him.
  • Eliminate the things that are chaotic in your life.  Bad habits and people who are chronic roller coaster riders need to go.  Surround yourself with people who are grounded and calm.  Replace bad habits with good ones.
  • If money, or lack of it is stressing you out, get on a budget. Pay off your debts, and start saving and investing.  Having your finances in order is a key to getting off the roller coaster.

My hope is that your life is not a roller coaster ride, and that if you take a ride it is at the theme park, and not part of your everyday life. My prayer is that if you have no relationship with God, you start there.  With that foundation laid, you will have the capability of recognizing the difference between getting a ticket for the roller coaster and getting a ticket for the scenic train.  Your choice as to which one you take.


Dan Skognes

Hide and Seek, Seek and Find

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Hide and Seek Seek and Find dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x263)

When we were kids, we played the game of Hide and Seek.  As we grew older, we realized that the seeking and finding part were applicable to many things in life.  Here are just a few truths I have found:

  • Seek joy, not happiness.  Happiness is circumstantial. It comes and goes. Joy lasts.
  • Seek peace in the storm not just peace from the storm.  We are going to have storms in life.  They are inevitable.  To be at peace in the storm is having the peace that passes understanding.
  • Seek love, not lust.  Love gives, nurtures, and grows.  Lust takes, kills, and destroys relationships.
  • Seek your passion in life, not money.  Find your passion, do it with all your heart, and the money will follow.
  • Seek humility, not pride.  Pride goes before the fall.  Humility brings out the best in everyone.
  • Seek God, not gods.  There is one God.  Seek to serve Him first and foremost.
  • Seek relationships, not isolation.  We need each other and everyone has special gifts and talents that are unique to them.
  • Seek great, not just good.  Don’t settle for mediocre when there is something better for you if you are patient and persistent.
  • Seek understanding, not the need to be right.  You can be right all the time, or you can have relationships.  Your choice.
  • Seek to laugh at yourself, not at others.  Others won’t think it so funny when you laugh at them (unless they are a comedian, in which case, they hope you laugh at them).
  • Seek to win, not lose.  Even in losing you can win if you learn the lesson.
  • Seek to give grace to others, not judgment.  Who does not need a little grace given to them?  We all have enough judgment.

My hope is that we seek a higher road than we have previously traveled.  What you find on the high road will be rewarding to you and a blessing to others.


Dan Skognes

The Greatness Within Each Of Us

Posted in Motivational, Video

The Greatness Within Each Of Us dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x212)

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple.  Know what you are doing.  Love what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing.”  Will Rogers

If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to?

Click Here:  The Greatness Within Each Of Us


Dan Skognes

The Coach

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Coach dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x268)

One of my favorite movies is Hoosiers.  I love the story.  I love the acting.  I love the lessons that it teaches us about people.  Gene Hackman does an incredible job of teaching us some basic truths about coaching and mentoring.

If you don’t know the story, it is about a small school in Indiana in the early 50’s that goes to play a school many times their size and has a powerhouse team in the playoffs. It is the David vs. Goliath of sports, and just like in the Bible, David wins.

I realize much of the movie is fictional, and yet I appreciate the fact that what was interjected into the script had deep meaning.  Here are a few of the lessons from the coach that we can use:

  • Practices aren’t designed for your enjoyment.
  • There is more to playing the game than shooting.  There’s fundamentals and defense.
  • If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.
  • There’s a tradition in tournament play- not talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you. I’m sure going to the state finals is beyond your wildest dreams, so let’s just keep it right there.
  • You are in the Army. You’re in my Army. Everyday between three and five.
  • Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team – no one more important that the other.
  • The height of the hoop is the same at the home gym and at the stadium where the playoffs are held. Don’t be overwhelmed by new surroundings.  Some things do remain constant.
  • Everyone deserves a chance to succeed.
  • The size of your opponent does is not the determining factor of who wins.  The question is, who is the best prepared?  Who has the most heart?
  • See the potential in others and help them bring it to life.
  • Cast the vision for those that are following you.  They need to see what you see.
  • Believe in miracles.  They still happen.
  • Discipline is different from punishment.  Learn the difference.

If you are a leader of a company, a manager, or maybe you just have a family to worry about, think about the coaching style you have.  If all you do is rant and rave at your team or your family, you lost the game and may end up losing the season.  Coaching and mentoring can be tough and demanding for those who receive it, but they are more likely to receive it if they know you love them and that you care about them.  That makes all the difference in what they hear.


Dan Skognes

No Pain, No Gain

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

No Pain No Gain dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

This is a popular quote in the gym.  Working out the muscles till there is some pain is good and strengthens the body.  A variation of the quote is that “There are no pains without gains.” Pain is a teacher that nobody wants, but everyone remembers.

Life can be a major pain at times, I am sure you would agree.  I have a close friend of mine that recently had a health set-back.  He thought he was having a heart attack.  He was in and out of the hospital over a period of a few months and had every test known to man done to him.  In the end, he had nothing wrong.  He just needed to slow down his pace.  He had to learn to rest.

He marveled at how much he learned about himself and used the down time to get closer to God.  Sometimes when we have the rug pulled out from us, the only place we can look is up.

Whatever you might be facing right now….whatever the pain is….whether it is financial, heath, or relational…there is a gain from the pain.  You may be stretched to the limits of your physical and emotional being, but that can be a good thing if you grow, if you are strengthened from it…and you give to others as a result.

One of the positive things about pain for me is that I write a lot.  That creative energy just flows when I am under pressure.  I am not sure why that is, and sometimes I wish life was not such a pain.  But then I get an email from someone around the world that has been touched by my writing.  They have been inspired to live another day…to endure…to keep the faith…to hold on to hope.  That makes it all worthwhile for me.

Everyone has some pain in their lives.  It is the pain of life that helps us truly experience the joy of life.  Strange how one can lead to the other.  They are seemingly opposites, and yet they are intrinsically tied together.

Whatever pain you are facing today, my hope is that you find the gain.  It is there to be had if you will endure….keep the faith…hang on to your hope…and live completely in the moment.  Your pain may be for the gain of someone you do not even know personally.  How you respond to your pain will determine your gain.

I think that sometimes we are allowed to go through the fire for a couple of reasons.  First, it makes us personally stronger.  Second, it helps us to have empathy for others who are going through the same thing.  Think about it…if you have been broke before, you can truly feel for someone who is broke.  If you have been through a divorce, you know the depth of pain they are going through. If you lost a loved one, you know the sadness they are enduring.

I remember going through a terrible time in my life, and I thought I had nothing left to live for.  I was at the point of just trying to figure out how to end it all.  Fortunately, I had some people that were invested in me to pour out love, encouragement…and hope to me.  They helped me put things in perspective and to keep my faith.  I was hanging by a thread…but they tied the knot at the end to help me hold on.  The good news is that I ended up not only better for it…but also have an incredible tenderness towards anyone in the same boat that I had been in.

You can choose to become bitter….or you can choose to become better.  You can choose to be a victim…or you can choose to be a victor.  I hope the gain you receive blesses not just you, but all those you touch today.  The pains we have for the moment can be gains we have for a lifetime.


Dan Skognes

When Things Go Wrong

Posted in Business, Motivational

When Things Go Wrong (360x360)

“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”  Elvis Presley

I don’t know if you have days like this, but I recently had a day that just fell apart.  I pride myself on being organized.  I had a very full day planned.  Here was my schedule for the day:

7:30-9:00 AM Lead the Kingdom Business Group (Chamber of Commerce Meeting)

9:00-10:30 AM Interview an applicant for a position with my company

10:30-12:00 Noon Interview a 2nd applicant

Drive 1 hour to my first sales appointment

1:00-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:30 1st sales appointment

3:30-5:00 2nd sales appointment

5:00-6:30 3rd sales appointment

Pretty jam-packed day, right?  And here is the kicker, I always confirm all appointments the day before…especially when I have to drive one hour each way to see someone.

The meeting in the morning was a complete success.  Everyone was energized by the information they received from our guest speaker, Terry Sullivan, who happens to be a LinkedIn Guru.  If you have not connected with this guy on LinkedIn, do it.  He will help you optimize your LinkedIn page.  Very cool guy.

I got an email during the Kingdom Business Group from my 5 PM appointment apologizing that he could not make it and would have to reschedule.  No problem.

I then got a text from the 10:30 applicant letting me know she was cancelling her interview.  No explanation.  No problem.

The first interview when very well.  Since the 2nd interview had cancelled, I had more time to spend with this applicant and her husband.  It was really a very good meeting and we were able to connect at a very deep level, not just surface interview talk, but really sharing life heart to heart.  I walked away from that meeting feeling great and whether she comes to work with me or not, I know I have made some new friends.

I then drove to the town where I had my first appointment scheduled and grabbed some lunch.  I still had two confirmed appointments, so I expected this to be a productive day sales-wise as well.  I got to the first appointment, and the lady was not there.  I was a few minutes early.  Her two grown sons were home and said that she told them she would be right back.  No problem.  I waited, and waited…30 minutes passed. I called her.  She was at work!  She said she got called to work unexpectedly and had to go in.  She would be home in about an hour and a half if I could come back.  I bit my tongue and told her I would call when I was leaving my next appointment.

I went to have an iced tea and chill out for a few minutes and make some follow up phone calls that were on my list of things to do, then I went to my second appointment.  Her daughter answered the door.  Her Mom was not home.  She was at WORK.  GRRRRRRRRR.  Are you kidding me???  She said her Mom had tried to get in touch with me, but that was a lie.  I had no missed calls and no voicemail messages.  What the heck is going on?

I drove back across town to wait for the first lady to get home.  I made a few calls, and then called the lady to let her know I was on the way.  NO ANSWER, and her voicemail has not been set up to take a message.  GRRRRRRRRR.  I thought, OK, I will drive back over to her house and meet her there.  Give her the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe something was wrong with her phone.  2 cars are in the driveway now.  I tried to call again.  No answer.  I rang the doorbell, no answer.  I knocked on the door. Still no answer.  I did all I could do to keep the appointment, and yet, she did not see it necessary to let me know she was just not interested.  Incredible how rude some people can be.

I drove back to my home and on the way back stopped by a business I had been trying to connect with.  I got an appointment with the guy to write a contract with him this week. The good news here is that I have met with him previously and he has already committed to doing the deal.  We just had to find time in his schedule to fill out the paperwork. Would you believe it?  This guy ended up just blowing me off too.

What is the moral of the story?  We can have the best laid plans and still have them go awry.  There are a lot of people in this world that are simply rude.  We have to determine if we are going to let them steal our peace or not.  I had my moments of growling in frustration, but then I let it go.  It is (unfortunately) part of the business.  When you are dealing with the public, you are going to have your share of knuckleheads to deal with.  Don’t let them bum you out.  Try to re-focus as quickly as possible to move on to your next objective.

The good news is that the things that I DID get accomplished yesterday were very rewarding and will have long-term positive ramifications.  The other things that don’t go right are just small stuff in the end.  They really don’t matter in the scheme of life.  I chose not to get depressed or angry over it, but decided to do the best that I could, then not worry about the outcome.  That is not an easy attitude to have when you are a commission guy, but it is necessary to have if you want to keep your sanity.

So, next time you are having “one of those days,” try to put it in perspective.  There are a lot of things going to happen to you that are simply out of your control.  The one thing you CAN control is how you respond to it.  You know the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?”  That is great advice.  In my world it is, “When life hands you lemons, SELL lemonade.”  LOL.  Next time you are getting stressed out about your day, have a cold glass of lemonade for me, will ya?


Dan Skognes