Drinking From The Fire Hose

Posted in Business, Motivational

Drinking From The Fire Hose dan skognes leadership development trainer coach motivation blogger

 A friend of mine recently asked me how things were going.  I responded that I feel like I am drinking from the fire hose at times.  If you have ever gone through a steep learning curve, you understand what I mean.  The expectations are high to get up to speed quickly and proficiently.

This is why many people stress out in their jobs.  They have the expectations of their boss, their peers, their employees, their organization, their family, and last but not least, themselves.  Have you noticed that everyone seems to demand a lot from others these days?

I tend to have higher expectations of myself than anyone could possibly put on me…which is both good and bad. The good part is that I set my personal goals and expectations high which can lead to extraordinary success if applied in the right direction.  The bad part is that if the expectations are unrealistic or in a direction that is not profitable, time and energy can be wasted.

How can you manage drinking from the fire hose?  Here are some simple ways to reduce the stress of learning:

  • First and foremost, make sure the task you have undertaken is worth the cost of time, energy, focus, and money. Time is your most precious asset.  Count the cost of the investment of  your time.
  • Consider managing the flow of information.  Everyone learns in a different style that is unique to them.  Once you know your own style you can accelerate the learning process and minimize the risk and time spent.  My style of learning is primarily seeing and doing.  Once I see HOW it is done and actually DO it myself, I tend to remember more quickly and learn the process.  You might be a person who learns by hearing, seeing, or doing….or a combination like me.  Whatever it is, figure out how YOU learn best and use that to your advantage.
  • Sometimes we expect others to learn like we do.  Big mistake.  If you are trying to SHOW someone who learns by HEARING, they may not get it.  Find out how the student learns and reach them on their level.  If you are teaching a class, you have to use all of the above because the more people you teach, the more likely they will have a diverse learning style that is different from yours.
  • There is an old saying that you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  That is great advice when you are taking on a mammoth task (pun intended).  Just make sure it is the right elephant.

Learning is part of life.  If you stop learning, you don’t remain static, you start moving backwards!  An integral part of being a leader is being a learner.  I was telling a group the other day that all readers are not leaders, but all leaders are readers.  One of the guys in the group wanted to debate the issue with me by stating, “Just because you are a reader does not make you an effective leader, and there are many ways to learn besides reading.”  I did not argue that and in fact agreed with him, but I did point out that every successful highly effective leader I have known in history or personally was an avid reader.  It is not just part of the equation, but it is an integral piece of the end result.

Next time the fire hose is turned on you, I hope you can look at it a little differently, and be able to not just manage the flow…..but manage what you know.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational

A kooky idea about what to do


“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”  I saw that sign one day.  It made me laugh, but the sad truth is that a lot of companies continue down a path of self-destruction with apparent abandon.

In the leadership training that we do, it becomes evident that many managers are stuck and just don’t know how to get out of the rut.  The old “This is the way we have always done it” thinking is sinking the ship, yet there is a frustration over the inability to stop the madness.

I was listening to an audio book this morning that was talking about getting people to communicate that have had challenges.  It was an interesting slant, and got me thinking.  Sometimes we miss the obvious solution that is right there in front of us.

Communication is not just verbal.  We communicate in other ways:

  • Body language
  • Tone
  • Written

Much has been written about non-verbal communication.  We have all experienced the eye roll, the sigh, or the crossed arms as we talk.  Tone accounts for more misunderstandings than what is actually said, yet we often miss the tone in our voices.  Of course, written communication is both good and bad.  You can say a lot, but unless you punctuate appropriately, the tone is often lost and misunderstood. The problem with written communication is there is no opportunity for immediate feedback.

Here is a revolutionary thought:  If what you are doing is not working in communicating with someone, stop doing that.  Much could be accomplished if we just thought before we spoke.  Too often we allow our lips to flap before the brain has analyzed the consequences. If you have a quick wit like I do, you know what I mean.

Sometimes changing the environment is what is needed, not changing what is said.  Here is what I mean by that.  There was an example from the Restaurant Association where cooks and waitresses were literally yelling back and forth at each other.  If you have ever seen the TV show Hell’s Kitchen, you get the drift. Tempers often flared and customers suffered the results of the battle.  A simple system was introduced where instead of waitresses barking the orders to the cooks, they wrote down each order and put them on a carousel.  The first in first out system.  Tempers abated and everyone loved the new system….especially the customers who no longer were caught in the cross fire. They did not have to talk, they just needed to communicate!  Improving morale should be a constant goal.*

Here are a few simple suggestions for lifting the spirits of your team:

  • Celebrate successes publically.  Showing appreciation is a simple way to make people feel they are valued.
  • Correct privately.  Never dress someone down in front of their peers or in front of customers.  That is a no win situation and will end up costing you respect and trust. Once you have addressed it with them, let it go.  Don’t keep harping on it or you will crush their spirit.  Hold them accountable, yes, but correct with compassion.  Nobody is perfect. Making mistakes should not be fatal to someone’s career unless there is a breach of the law or blatant breach of company policy.
  • Whenever possible, include people in decision making where they have a vested interest.  Being part of the decision making process makes them feel part of the team and makes them feel heard.  Even if their idea is not the path that is taken, they are more likely to support the final decision because they were part of the process.
  • Drive decision making down in the organization.  There is nothing that frustrates the troops more than to have a minor decision held up because the CEO has not got around to it or he is on vacation.  Empowering your team develops their skills and builds their confidence.
  • If you are the one in the corner office, get out and mix with the team members as often as possible.  Taking time to listen to them and showing interest in what is going on with them helps them to buy in to the vision and strategy you have cast.

Morale in many ways is a fragile thing.  Value your employees like family.  Treat them with love and respect, and it will come back to you in spades in the form of loyalty, ingenuity, productivity, and collaboration.  Everyone wins when morale is a priority.


Dan Skognes

*Example taken from Influencer, by Joseph Grenny.

Cross Generations

Posted in Motivational, Relationships


Millennials dan skognes motivation blogger speaker leadership development trainer coach (320x191)

I heard a speech the other day about the differences in the generations.  I happen to be a Baby Boomer.  I knew there were some distinct differences in the generations, but I found some of the data rather fascinating.

The new term for youth is the Millennial Generation. Here are some of the characteristics of this generation:

  • They are very technology driven
  • They are more liberal and inclusive of ideas, lifestyles, and habits that we find strange and even dangerous
  • They think they are smarter than you are
  • They have a sense of entitlement
  • They get much of their identity from clothes

Now, I thought back to when I was a kid.  We did not have all of the technology that is available today, but I can identify with the last three bullet points.

There has always been and will always be a disconnect between the generations.  My dad could not understand why we liked to listen to Rock and Roll music.  I don’t understand the attraction that kids have to some of the music they listen too.  I have to admit that I am shocked at how much profanity is laced throughout the music of today.  And let’s face it, Rap makes me want to hit something or someone.  Seriously, why is there so much anger in the music?

How can the Boomers and Generation Xers communicate with the younger generation?  Think about it.  The Millennials are our future workers and leaders.  It we can’t communicate with them, we are in for a real shock.  Here are some tips for reaching those in the Millennial generation that you work with or live with:

  • Show respect for their opinions.  Regardless of how bizarre their ideas may seem to you, they still deserve to be heard.  Who knows?  What they think might just have some validity.
  • Spend time getting to know them and discussing what concerns them.  The more you empathize, the more you will both realize.
  • Model proper behavior for them.  Can you expect them to know how to treat other people respectfully if you don’t do it yourself?
  • Acknowledge their strengths and include them in projects and ideas that have to do with technology or social media.  That is where they live and thrive.
  • Teach them how to communicate with older generations.  Many of the Millennials are raised in fatherless homes.  Cut them some slack.  Love them.  Be patient with them.

I have great hope for the youth of today.  They are bright, enthusiastic, fun-loving people.  We just have to get to know each other.  That will take intentionality, humility, and love on both sides.  I toast the younger generation.  “May God give you vision, peace, prosperity, and love.”


Dan Skognes

Finding Your Way

Posted in Spiritual


Finding Your Way dan skognes motivation blogger speaker leadership trainer coach development (320x128)

Life is a challenge, isn’t it?  It is like we have the compass (we know where we want to end up), we just don’t know how to get there.  What we need is a map!  Of course, a GPS would work too; however, a GPS has been known to be wrong.

I was using my GPS one time to find a client in a remote area outside of Dallas.  I drove for an hour to get there.  When it said you are HERE, I was not a happy camper.  All around me were empty fields.  There was not a house in sight, and my cell phone was out of range. I had to drive back to an area where my cell phone worked to get the client on the phone and get specific directions on where they lived. So much for modern technology.

When it comes to accuracy, give me an old fashioned map.  I want to see the intersections that are ahead of me and what cross streets to be looking for. Is there a map for our lives?  Is there a way for us to navigate life and not get side-tracked or lost?  Well, actually, there is a very accurate map.  It is called the Bible: God’s Holy Word.

The Bible is not just a history book, although it is that as well.  The Bible is alive.  It is God’s living Word.  It has practical instructions and directions for every obstacle you will face in life.  The good news is that God loves us and wants us to live an abundant life.  It is not just directions for getting to Heaven.  It is about navigating the hills and valleys of life.The Bible is God’s map and instruction book.  We just have to read it, believe it, and live it!

It is funny to me that so many people have never read the Bible and scoff at those that do.  Why would anyone choose to walk in darkness when there is a light available to show them the way?  Frankly, I don’t get that at all.

My prayer for you is that you come to understand God’s love.  The Bible is a mystery that God wants to reveal to you.  Just ask God to help you understand what you are reading.  He gave us the perfect tutor…His Holy Spirit.  Once you have the map (the Bible), and the guide (the Holy Spirit), you are on your way to finding your purpose, your peace, and your provision.


Dan Skognes

Just Let It Go

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Christian Laettner

1992 was a historical date in NCAA history. Duke and Michigan had both had incredible runs to get to the Final 4.  Both of them seemed unstoppable, and as they moved into the final game against one another, there was a sense of anticipation that was electric.  I know.  I was there.

I did not know it at the time, but that game would be one of the most talked about NCAA games ever, and I got to witness it firsthand.  If you have never been to an event like that, do yourself a favor and go.  I am not a huge college basketball fan and don’t follow any particular team, but I know when they get to the Final 4, those games are worth watching.

In 1992, Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley lead the Blue Devils against Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and the rest of the Fab 5 from Michigan.  Michigan had the odds going in.  They were picked by all the odds makers to go all the way, but destiny has a funny way of throwing a curve.  That night, the dreams of the Michigan Wolverine fans were dashed by Laettner and Hurley and the rest of the Duke Blue Devils.

Fast forward to 2014.  I had the opportunity to go to the final game of the Final 4 in Dallas.  Kentucky was playing UCONN.  Unfortunately for Kentucky, UCONN came prepared to play.  Kentucky had given everything they had to win the game against Wisconsin on Saturday, and they simply were not running on all cylinders.

But this is not about that game.  This is about a guy that was walking through the Stadium with a T shirt that read: “I am still mad, Laettner!”  I had to laugh at that, but you know the sad truth is there are a lot of people who carry unforgiveness around for years and years.  They hold onto their anger…getting comfort in it.  Somehow they feel justified in not forgiving someone.

The truth is all of us need forgiveness.  There was only one man who has walked this earth that was perfect, and it wasn’t you or me.  I might be close to perfection in my mind :o), but trust me when I tell you, I need forgiveness.

The Bible says that God forgives us as we forgive others.  Ouch.  If that is true, then how can we justify unforgivness?  How can we feel good about holding on to anger to the point of becoming bitter?  We either become bitter, or better.  I don’t know about you, but I want and need God’s forgiveness.  Regardless of what someone has done to you, let it go.  To the guy I saw at the Final 4.  “Let it go!”

It has been said that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.  That does not make much sense, does it?  Let it go. Luke 6:37 says, Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” If you expect to have any peace in this life or the next, let it go.


Dan Skognes