Shifting Sand

Posted in General

House hangs off cliff

There is a proverb that says a man built his house on shifting sand.  The winds came and the house collapsed.  Another man built his house on solid rock.  When the winds came, it withstood the storm.

This proverb could apply to building a house, building a business, or building a relationship.  If there is not a firm foundation, it is going to collapse when the storms come, and as you know, in life…the storms WILL come.

What can you do to build a firm foundation?

  • Don’t take shortcuts.  Whether you are building something physically or emotionally, take the time necessary and use quality ingredients.  If you are building something physically, the foundation is the most important piece of the structure. Make sure it is properly mixed, properly cured, and adequate in width and depth. If it is a relationship, the foundation of any relationship is made up of trust, respect, and love.  If you have that as a foundation, it can stand any storm that life might throw at you.  Take one of the elements out, and it is likely to fall.
  • Don’t be deceived by the lure of the sand. I recently watched a million dollar house be burned to the ground because it was built on a cliff, and the ground below eventually gave way.  The house was going to fall into the lake, so it had to be burned to the ground to protect boaters.  What a tragedy that a structural engineer was not brought in to test the land first and see if it would stand the test of time. Insurance did not cover it because proper precautions were not taken. What a lesson to learn.  Talk about learning something the HARD way!
  • Have you ever seen a business that could not stand because it lacked a firm foundation?  There is a reason that most businesses fail in the first five years.  Lack of vision, lack of focus, lack of resources all contribute to the demise of thousands of businesses every year. Everyone goes into a business with great expectations of success, yet few are prepared for the storms. No business will make it without clear vision for where they are going. It takes great fortitude to not let the setbacks sink the ship or get you off course.  Stay on course, and make sure you have the provisions to see you through the storm.  Having a good crew is critical to success.  Few people make it solo in this day and age.
  • The cornerstone is the most critical piece of a solid foundation.  The reason it is so important is that it is the first stone set in the foundation, and all others take their place in accordance with it. If it is not aligned properly, everything else will be askew.  Make sure your cornerstone (physical or relational) is properly aligned.

May your foundations be firm, blessed, and secure.


Dan Skognes

Pressure Cooker

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Pressure Cooker dan skognes leadership development trainer coach motivational speaker blogger

Do you ever feel like the pressures of life are so great that you are about to explode?  That is not a good thing, by the way. How you handle pressure says a lot about you and your faith.

Not trying to put a guilt trip on anyone here, but if you are living every day stressed out, then I have to ask, “Where is your faith?” Do you say you trust God, then continue to worry, fret, gripe, complain, become angry, or get bitter?  Where is God when you need Him???  Why isn’t he answering your prayers???  Why ME???

OK, if that is you, calm down.  Breathe deeply…exhale.  In with the good…..out with the bad.  Sometimes life can be pretty crazy, and I don’t care how strong you are, or how strong your faith is, sometimes we all get knocked to our knees by life.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that when one thing goes wrong, several other things go wrong at the same time!  Just when you feel like you are able to stand up from the first punch, you get knocked to your knees by something else, and then another.  The question becomes, are you going to stay down?

I heard a testimony from Tony Dungee recently.  Talk about a guy that understands disappointments and setbacks.  Tony said, “How you respond to failure, how you respond to disappointment…says a lot more about you than how you respond to success.” He consistently took his teams to the playoffs, but the Superbowl championship kept alluding him. Things did not turn out the way he thought they would.  Despite taking Tampa to the playoffs 4 consecutive years, he got fired because he did not win the BIG one. It was one of the biggest disappointments in his life because he felt that the Lord had brought him to Tampa.  It would have been very easy to give up on God or at the very least…get mad at Him.

He did not know what he was going to do when he got fired.  He did not know if he was even going to stay in football at that point.  That is when Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts called and told Tony that they were making a change at head coach and Tony was the man for the job.  The rest is history.  It was not written as Tony would have scripted it, but only as God could do it. Tony never gave up.  He came to grips that if he NEVER won the BIG one, he would be OK with that, but he would never give up on trying to win it.

When the Colts won the Superbowl, at the request of the players they honored God by having a team prayer after the game….just as they had done after every game.  What a testimony to walking in faith, trusting God, thanking God, and seeing the blessings of God as a result.

If you are struggling in your faith because of the setbacks of life, don’t give up.

  • Don’t give up on God.  His timing is perfect. He IS there and He DOES care. Trust Him!
  • Don’t give up on yourself.  God has a purpose for your life.  He will help you attain that purpose.  Just don’t quit. Focus on doing His will today for your life.  Take a step of faith, and don’t worry about tomorrow.

It is easy to get discouraged, particularly when you have struggled for years in some area.  Take a lesson from Tony Dungee.  God will see you through.  You just have to believe in Him and stay the course.  Follow Him.  Put Him first in all you do, and He will direct your paths. Winning is worth pursuing, but living a life that is free, purpose driven, and Christ centered is the biggest win we can pursue. When all is said and done, we are not defined by what we do for a living, but who we are inside.


Dan Skognes

Before the Dawn

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Before the Dawn dan skognes leadership training development coach motivational blogger speaker

You might have heard the saying, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” This is a message for you if you are in that dark place.

I was at a leadership conference last week.  It was the Global Leadership Conference sponsored by Willowcreek Church.  I am still trying to download all the truths that they shared with us over the two day conference.  It was truly an amazing experience.

You know what was the one common topic that every person touched on?  FEAR!  I was attending the sessions with a buddy of mine who has a ministry to break people of the fears they face.  We were both blown away with the common thread in speech after speech. I did not realize that there was such an epidemic of fear running rampant.  The spirit of fear has people crippled, derailed, and missing their destiny.

What is going on here?  Why does fear have a death grip on so many people around the world?

  • Fear is going to thrive where faith is not evident.  It is easy to be a “Christian” until your faith gets tested.  That probably holds true for other faiths as well.
  • Fear feeds our insecurities.  We often allow our fears to take root in our hearts, and when that happens, we begin to become anxious, angry, bitter, resentful, unthankful, worrisome, and exhausted. Does that describe you? All of that is rooted in fear.

Do you know the difference between fearing God and fearing man?  The first brings peace, direction, and life.  The second brings discord, confusion, and death.  The problem we seem to face is getting the two confused.  Fearing God is not being afraid of Him.  He has our back.  He has our heart in His hands.  He has plans to prosper us…to give us a future and a hope. Fearing God simply means to trust Him and revere Him.

So, if you believe that, why are you determined to dwell in darkness? If we say we love God, why can’t we simply TRUST God?

Here are some simple things we can do when we get caught up in fear:

  • Remember the times that God has come through for you in the past.  Journaling is good because it allows you to go back and remember times where you were at the end of your rope and God came through.
  • When you are afraid, press in to God.  He is there.  He does not promise that we will not have storms to go through. Just the opposite.  What He DOES do is promise to be with us, love us, guide us, and provide for us THROUGH the storms.  Press in to Him.  Trust Him.  Read and claim His Word and His promises. PRAY.  He is listening.  He cares.  Don’t mistake silence for lack of caring.  Just because you don’t SEE Him doing something in your behalf does not mean He is ignoring you.  Be patient, trust Him.  Press in to Him. Your answer is forthcoming.
  • Admit you are afraid.  Sometimes we “fool” ourselves into believing that we are on top of things and we are falling apart on the inside.  It is OK to admit you are afraid.  God understands our weaknesses.  He understands that we are frail.  His grace IS sufficient, but we have to trust Him.  It is impossible to please God without faith, and faith is not really faith if we don’t trust Him….especially when we are dwelling in darkness.

Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through Hell, keep going.”  In other words, don’t make your bed and dwelling place in Hell. If you find yourself worrying about what might happen, stop it!  Take every thought captive.  Don’t allow your mind to replay all the worst case scenarios in your mind.  Expect good things to happen!  Claim God’s promises over your life.  He is faithful to us.  We just have to be faithful to him.  Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.  What mountains are you facing?  Trust God.  He has amazing things in store for you if you do. No mountain is too big for God.


Dan Skognes

Robin Williams – Final Thoughts

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Robin Williams dan skognes leadership development trainer coach motivational blogger I was saddened by the news this week that Robin Williams died at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.  Being that I am 63 years old myself, I found this particularly troubling. 63 is still pretty young (at least in my book)

My wife asked me why I thought he would take his own life.  After all….he had fame, fortune….and the world by the tail.  Well, fame and fortune are great, but they don’t fill the void inside that we all have.

Many comics have died tragically: Lenny Bruce, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Andy Kaufman, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Phil Hartman, Bernie Mac, Bob Crane, Richard Prior, and Bill Hicks….just to name a few.  So many of them suffered from depression, which was complicated often by drug and alcohol abuse.  Some died of natural causes, and some by their own hand.  The thing they all seem to share is depression and substance abuse. So tragic.  Such a waste of talent and life.

How can anyone really understand what is going on in the mind of someone who is depressed?  Pretty hard to fathom the pain and anxiety that would lead someone to end it all….especially when they “have it all” by the world’s standards.  But….that is what we are left to sort out.

These comedians had the ability to make us laugh, and yet inside….there were bitter tears that they ultimately could not deal with; wounds that would not heal.  I happen to have a pretty quick wit myself, and know firsthand that much of what I can joke about is anchored in some pain. The difference for me is that I have not allowed the pain to dwell inside and fester, and I have not become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Have I thought about it?  Yes….but thank God I have never let myself get so far down that bottom starts to look like up.

If you are struggling with the storms of life, here are some things that can help you through:

  • If you are depressed about something and can’t seem to shake it off, consider getting some help…professional help if need be.  The first step to beating depression is admitting you are depressed!
  • Have two or three people in your life that are truth tellers.  They will not tell you what you WANT to hear.  They will tell you what you NEED to hear.  They won’t allow you to wallow in your self-pity very long.
  • Put a short time limit on how long you will allow yourself to worry about something.  It is understandable and human nature to worry….just don’t live there.  Worry does no good whatsoever. It changes nothing for the good, and much of the time the things we worry about never happen anyway!
  • Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to get you through the pain.  That will only deepen the depression and make things look worse than they are.
  • I have found that when I am feeling beat up by the circumstances of life, that is a great time to show my faith in God.  It is easy to praise God when the bank account is overflowing, everyone loves you, and life is going your way.  It is quite different when the storms are beating you to a pulp and you are literally drowning.  That, more than any other time is when you need to praise God.  I know that sounds absurd, but the Bible says that is what faith is all about….trusting God when you can’t see the next step to take.  Praise Him…trust Him….and see what He does as a result.

When you are at the end of your rope, God is there for you….to hold you, catch you, and guide you.  He does not promise us a storm-free life.  What He does promise us is to be with us always, and help us navigate the storms.

May God give you Shalom in the storms that you face.

Dan Skognes

Not Why Me….But Wow, Me!

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Jim Kelly and His Family dan skognes leadership training development motivation blogger speaker

I was watching football Sunday night, and the best part of the game was at half time when they did a special on Jim Kelly, former quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.  Back in the 90’s Jim took the Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowls….and lost every one.

He also had a son that was born with a terminal illness who died at the tender age of 8. Now, in his early 50’s, he has been diagnosed with cancer.  You would think that any of these things would cause someone to give up on life, but you would be wrong.

Jim has the incredible ability to see the glass half full in the middle of the worst storms that life can throw at you.  How does someone do that?  How can you smile on your hospital bed when you are suffering and encourage those that have come to see you?  How can you still go out at practice with the kids at your football camp when you feel like pulling the covers over your head and just wanting the pain to stop?

Well, I am not positive, but I am pretty sure he has a heart the size of Texas.  Jim’s faith in God, faith in others, and faith in himself are unshakable.  I have no doubt that he is the type of man that would gladly lay down his own life if it would save another.

When Andre Reed (Jim Kelly’s primary receiver) was being inducted into the Football Hall of fame, guess who was there in the crowd cheering HIM on?  Yup….Jim, despite his bout with cancer and continual pain made the trip to honor his friend and teammate.  Jim threw Andre a pass when he was on the stage.  Andre laughed that he was so nervous he thought he was going to drop it, but he called it the most important pass that Jim had ever thrown to him.  Is there any wonder why people love this guy?

Who would not go to the mat for a leader like this?  Here are the lessons that Jim taught me without ever knowing me personally:

  • Do what you love in life, but always remember that what you do for a living is not who you are.
  • Remember to give thanks for every day you are given.  Every day is a gift…that is why they call it the present.
  • Love others totally and unselfishly.  Give especially to those are incapable of giving you anything in return.  That is true love.
  • When you are going through the storm, don’t ask “Why me?”  Say…”Wow….me!”  There is a reason God has chosen YOU to go through this and something very good will come out of it regardless of how bad it looks right now.  Generations can be touched by your actions, whether good or bad.
  • Never give up to fear.  Keep the faith, stay the course, and give all you have.

Jim, thanks for reminding me that what we do on a daily basis matters.  Thanks for inspiring me to give my best.  God bless you.  I pray for your healing and that God bless you!


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Hindsight dan skognes leadership development trainer coach motivation blogger


There is an old saying that hindsight is 20/20.  I think that statement is only partially true.  The reason I say that is because if hindsight was 20/20, would we not learn from our mistakes the first time?

I don’t know about you, but I have made way too many mistakes more than once.  I thought about it a long time and you know what I concluded?  I CHOSE to ignore the warning signs.  I deliberately chose to do something which was unwise.  Pretty dumb when you look at it like that, but at least I have come to the point in life where I recognize the warning signs now and as a result I make far fewer bad choices.

How do you know you are making a bad choice?

  • You usually get a gut check.  That little voice in your head saying, “Don’t do it!”  Start listening to that voice.  It is always good to wait if your gut is telling you “No.”
  • You have made this bad choice before and find yourself ready to do it again.  Whatever it is….relationships, financial decisions, etc., etc., if you have done this previously and had BAD results, think twice before making this decision.  Don’t expect different results if you are doing the same thing again.
  • You run the idea past a person you love and trust, someone who is grounded emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and THEY get a gut check and say, “No.”  It is good to have two or three people in your life that you can be totally transparent with and they will tell you the truth….not just what you want to hear.  If you don’t have people in your life like that, seek them out.  It will save you a lot of headaches and heartache.

Hindsight is definitely something to heed.  History has a way of repeating itself for those who ignore the past, but this is just part of the equation in decision making.  Here are some additional things to consider in making any important decision:

  • Evaluate the risk involved in the decision.  What will it cost you in time, money, and resources?
  • Determine what the worst case scenario is.  If everything went south on the decision, could you live with that?
  • Evaluate what other options you have available?
  • Determine not only if the decision is right, but is the timing right?  The right decision at the wrong time is still the wrong decision.
  • Who will be impacted by your decision?  What will be the risk to those relationships if things go south?

Just remember that hindsight CAN be 20/20, but only if we learn from the past and consider the future.


Dan Skognes