Elevate Your Game

Posted in Business, Motivational

Elevate Your Game dan skognes motivation blogger trainer coach consultant educator

It is funny how everyone I know seems to have a plateau. Sounds like a lyric to a Country song, doesn’t it?  It is true, though.  We all seem to have a glass ceiling that we cannot get above in our skill sets.  We simply can’t do it on our own. Even Tiger Woods needs a coach. Why is that?

  • We are blind to our faults and limitations.  Every great athlete or business leader knows he needs a coach or mentor.  He needs someone to point out the things that he needs to do differently.  He needs someone to encourage him to stretch his thinking and his physical limitations beyond what he THINKS he can do. He simply needs someone to tell him the truth about himself…but to do it in a positive way.
  • We may have just become comfortable coasting. Great athletes and business leaders who are naturally talented may become lazy in their attitudes if not challenged.  A good coach or mentor will not allow that to persist. They will push them to excel.
  • Our pride may be a problem.  People that have plateaued could have a pride issue getting in the way.  It is a common problem among the highly talented people of this world, and understandably so.  They sometimes are still kids and making millions of dollars.  They have everyone bowing to them and telling them how great they are.  That is a recipe for disaster if not kept in check.  A good coach or mentor will be their reality check.  They will keep them out of jail, and possibly even save their life.  Long term, they will elevate them to a higher level of success.
  • When someone tells me that they know how to do something because they have been doing it for X amount of years…I know there is a problem with stubbornness.  They are not teachable or coachable.  They feel like they know it all and so the chances of them changing are pretty slim. However, the best thing this person could do would be to get a coach or mentor to help them break through that barrier of self-delusion. Nobody knows it all.  Nobody has all the answers.  It does not matter how long you have been doing it if you have been doing it wrong all along.  We all need a coach or a mentor. There are often better ways of doing things that we thought were the best way.
  • Sometimes people simply have reached their plateau because they have allowed themselves to lose focus.  Personal problems, health issues, financial issues, even just having fun…they can all cause someone to get off track.  They have lost their passion for excellence because they lost their focus.  Numerous reasons could be the culprit, but a good coach or mentor will help get them back on course and focus on attaining their goals.

So, are you ready to elevate your game?  Are you ready to get a coach or mentor to help you?  Here is to seeing you take your game or business to a whole new level.  Thank God for the coaches and mentors of this world.  Where would we be without them?


Dan Skognes

It Is What It Is

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

It Is What It Is dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach trainer educator

You have probably heard people say this from time to time, or perhaps you have said it yourself.  Think back on the circumstances.  Were any of them good? I would be willing to bet that it was said after someone had given up on changing something.

It became an irritant to me many years ago when I worked for a new manager in a major corporation and he used this as an excuse for not facilitating changes that were needed.  It drove everyone crazy to have a leader who was passive.  Who wants to follow a “Yes man?”

You might even have heard this said over recent crimes like the shooting in South Carolina or the illegal pool party in McKinney, TX. There is a lot of craziness in this world for which there is no explanation because evil has no logic, but I refuse to throw up my hands and say “It is what it is.” That statement is used to deflect responsibility, and all of us are ultimately responsible for what is going on in this country.  We each have a part to play.  We can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.

What can we do in the face of evil?

  • Don’t ignore it. Evil never retreats. If we don’t face it head on we will never have victory.
  • I realize that not everyone believes in spiritual things, but I do. I firmly believe that we are in the middle of a spiritual war. We either put on the full armor and do our part, or we succumb to “It is what it is.”
  • We have to quit blaming everyone or everything else.  Let’s quit blaming guns for Pete’s sake. I realize that one statement there will cause a furor over those who are looking to blame something. Just my opinion, but I don’t think a gunman is likely to open fire in a place where there is armed resistance. They tend to look for easy targets. Maybe it is a cultural thing, but here in Texas guns are not looked at like they have a conscience. They are neither good nor evil, just things that can be used or abused. Do you think that banning guns would stop a crazy person from killing? Think about the suicide bombers that have attacked America. If someone wants to kill, they will find a way.
  • The problem is deeper than we might want to admit. We have to know our neighbor, love our neighbor, and get to know who they are and what they do.  I live in a middle class neighborhood and I admit I don’t really KNOW my neighbors all that well.  We say “Hi and Bye,” but we don’t really know one another.  We have become a nation of isolationists. Am I wrong? Perhaps we need to really know who is living around us.
  • Don’t ignore threats that people make.  The kid who shot up the church in South Carolina had bought a gun and threatened to go shoot up a college.  His friends did NOTHING. All they said when they were interviewed was, “I guess he wasn’t kidding.”  Wow! Talk about deflecting responsibility.
  • Racism is a terrible thing and we need to do whatever we can to mend the broken relationships.  It won’t get better till we each do our part and learn to love one another, despite the color of our skin.

Let’s change what we say from “It is what it is” to “It is what we make it.” That keeps us engaged and part of the solution. I know this is not an easy solution, but I do think we can make a difference if we all do our part.


Dan Skognes

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

You Dont Know What You Dont Know dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach consultant

(Or You Don’t Know Diddley Squat)

The older I get the more I realize that I have a lot to learn. Just when you think you know all about something, you find out that there is another twist. Even when you think you know someone really well, they can surprise you.

Recently I was coaching an executive and we were talking about what was true. He said he was telling the truth and the other person in question was lying.  I asked, “Do you think he THINKS he was telling the truth?” He said, “Well, maybe.”  My point was, you have your truth and I have mine, and the real truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

People think there are two sides to a coin (like an argument), but there are really three. In the case of the coin there is heads, tails, and the edge.  The edge is where we seem to lose our perspective. Perhaps we are so bent on being right that we can’t even acknowledge the slight possibility that someone else is right and we are wrong. That perspective is what costs people their marriages, their jobs, and relationships in general.

Now, to complicate things, I do believe in certain moral absolutes that are always right or always wrong. The Ten Commandments were true in the days of Moses and they are still true today. Of course, there are some people out there that don’t believe in any absolutes, and I would politely disagree with them. But this discussion is not about moral absolutes. That is my disclaimer.  LOL.

We really don’t know what is going on in the heads and hearts of other people, do we?  For Pete’s sake, we don’t even know what is going on in our OWN heads and hearts at times!

My point here is simple.  You don’t know what you don’t know, so be willing to ask if you expect to grow. It is living in the land of assumptions that gets us into all kinds of trouble. You don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life most of the time. Even your close friends might not tell you everything that is going on. I have had friends, when I ask them why they did not tell me something say, “I just did not want to worry you.” Have you ever heard that or a variation of it? I bet you have.

So, here is the solution to understanding one another:

  • Don’t assume you know what someone is thinking or why they did what they did. Ask them, then just listen without accusing them. Try to look through their eyes.
  • Cut people some slack for being human. We all have our days where we might want to go a little cray-cray. I saw a funny sign recently.  It said, “You can tell a lot about how a woman feels by observing her hands…especially if she is holding a gun.”  Always observe nonverbal communication and guns in particular. LOL
  • If someone else is acting crazy does not give you an excuse to go crazy. Somebody has to act like an adult.  It might as well be you.
  • Respect and obey the law. We have seen enough people in the news who want to blame the law for their bad behavior. My rule for getting along with the police is simple: Do what they tell you to do. Period. Most of us could not and would not be willing to walk a mile in their shoes. I sincerely appreciate those who put their lives on the line for us daily, whether it is the police, the military, or firemen. I thank them every chance I get. I think we all at least had a bit of compassion for the policeman in McKinney when we found out he and just handled two suicide cases before he got called to the illegal pool party. I am not justifying his response which could have and should have been handled better, but I do have compassion for him and his family that I might not have had had I not heard more of the story.

The bottom line is, if we want to get along with one another, we have to be open to hearing the truth from someone else’s perspective. It is either that, or we need to each find an island where nobody else lives and move there. Some days we all opt for finding the island, but till then…Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Quit Quitting

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Quit Quitting dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach consultant

Perhaps you have heard life is marathon, not a sprint. The problem seems to be that we have a sprinter’s mentality in a race that takes a lifetime to complete. How can that be?  How can we be so short-sighted? Experience and history should be clues, yet so many people remain clueless.

The reality is we don’t seem to realize how short our time is on this earth.  We think of retirement as being way down the road, then we blink and we are thinking about filing for social security. How did THAT happen?

What concerns me is that people give up on marriages, friendships, jobs, hobbies, and basically anything that  challenges them. We have an epidemic of quitting when the going gets tough. What we should remember the old adage that “The grass is NOT always greener on the other side.” The grass is greener where you water it.

The truth is sometimes hard to swallow. I know everyone on the planet has regrets from quitting something in their life too soon. For me, it was getting out of the medical field after investing 20 years of my life into it. I loved what I was doing but was burned out on the travel (I have a million miles on American). I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking??? (I think that is a lyric from a song…LOL).

Some people go through job after job or relationship after relationship, often quitting before they see the rewards for their efforts. Admittedly, some jobs and some relationships are toxic and should not be continued.  We have all had that at some point in our lives. That is not the point I am addressing. I am talking about good jobs and good relationships that we give up on because they don’t meet our expectations when we want them to. We want what we want, and we want it now. Am I right?

Here are some thoughts to ponder:

  • If a relationship or job was good enough to enter in to, it is good enough to give your best to. Allow it time to bloom.
  • If you want to quit something, quit complaining. Complaining is draining for you and everyone around you.
  • Count your blessings. Some people would love to just have a relationship that was not abusive or a job that paid a decent wage. Be thankful for you what you have.
  • Run to win, but anticipate roadblocks and surprises. That is life. The world is full of people who are imperfect…including you and me. Allow people to be people and learn to be kind to those that are not.
  • Think before you quit. Don’t let the heat of the moment drive you to make a decision you will regret the rest of your life. I know many people who wish they had not walked away from a relationship or a job, but now it is too late.
  • Find ways not to burn bridges if you do have to quit. You never know when you have to re-cross the bridge. It sure is a lot easier if it is still standing and in good condition.
  • Learn this lesson: endurance and perseverance help you and stretch you to reach your true potential. If there is no opposition, there is no growth. It is in the resistance we encounter that we grow. Like the song says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It may sound like a cliché, but there is a lot of truth to that.

Whatever obstacles you are facing right now, don’t give up. Don’t give it. Don’t quit. I will be cheering you on to the finish line.


Dan Skognes

Expect Great Things

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Expect Greatness dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach consultantIf you don’t expect great things, don’t gripe about what you get.

That about says it all, doesn’t it? How many people have you dealt with that just want to gripe, yet when you get to the bottom of it, they seem content to wallow in it. What it boils down to is they really don’t want to change bad enough. Change only happens when the pain or the gain outweighs staying the same. Think about it. You have to have a significant reward or penalty to motivate yourself to change.

This week I was coaching a manager who needed to change some behaviors for the sake of his career and for his own peace of mind. I pointed out one thing to him and he said, “Yeah, I have heard that before.” I said something else he could work on and he said, “Yeah, I have heard that too.” I said one last thing and he said, “People of told me that as well.” I said, “Buddy, do you see a pattern here?”

It was pretty funny and we both laughed at the revelation, but prior to that moment he was blind to his behaviors that were unhealthy.  My advice to him was this, “If one person says you need to change something, listen to them, and consider if it has any truth in it. If two people say you need to change something, take it more seriously, and evaluate it more closely. Think of it as a flashing yellow light on the highway.  If three or more people tell you that you need to change something, you probably need to change that! That would be the red light telling you to stop.”  Pretty simple don’t you think?  Yet how many people do you know that just don’t want to change bad enough? They are content to wallow in it, or too stubborn to admit they have a problem.

To find the greatness within yourself and others:

  • Know yourself first and foremost.  If you don’t have a healthy self-awareness you will never have a healthy social awareness.
  • Listen to what other people tell you. If they are not forthcoming with feedback, ask them.  You may have to give them permission to be truthful if you are weak on the social skills, as they may be afraid of your reaction. Feedback is only relevant if it is truthful, so be open to hearing the good and the bad and give them permission to be honest with you. When they give you feedback, don’t argue or get defensive, just thank them. Allow yourself to process what you heard. Every criticism typically has an ounce of truth.  That is what you are looking for.
  • Look for greatness in yourself, and encourage it in others. It is wonderful to have high standards for yourself, but nobody is perfect. Only one person in history was perfect, and it is not you, me, or anyone walking on the planet now. Encourage others to excellence by identifying good things in them that they don’t see in themselves. Encourage them to get out of the comfort zone. Nothing great was ever accomplished in the comfort zone. We have to stretch if we want to grow. That goes for you too.
  • Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving greatness. Just because you have never done it before should not hold you back, even if you have failed multiple times before. If it is a dream within you, don’t let it die. Keep working towards it. Keep stretching yourself. The breakthrough is often within reach. You just have to know which direction to go. Keep knocking, the door will eventually open.

I believe that every one of us is born with greatness inside.  It is not about self-glory.  It is about realizing your purpose and coming alive. We can choose to exist or to really live. Living is vital and fluid. Existing is boring, unsatisfying, and stagnant. I don’t know about you, but I want to LIVE.

This is a new day for each of us.  I hope you find the seed of greatness in yourself and others, and water it.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Happy dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer educator coachPharrell Williams did a song called Happy that went to the top of the charts. It was a catchy tune and I am confident he was “happy” with the millions he banked from it.

A few weeks ago I was substitute teaching in an elementary school.  A bunch of second graders were in the gym and walking laps around the gym to warm up for exercise.  I was sitting in a chair just watching the kids walk. There was not much for me to do at this point except to relax. So, I did.

Three little girls stopped right in front of me and one of them looked me in the eye and asked me, “Are you happy?”  I laughed and said, “Well, yes I am!”  She said, “Then keep doing what you are doing.” Wow, that was pretty deep coming from a child so young.  She asked, “Do you know what I would have said if you told me you were not happy? I would have said then change what you are doing.”

I laughed again and thought “Out of the mouths of babes.” I don’t know where she heard that advice, but it is worth remembering. However, happiness is circumstantial and can come and go depending on the circumstances we face.  What we should be seeking is joy. Joy and peace go hand in hand.  When you are at peace you are joyful, and visa versa. You can have joy even in the middle of the storms of life because it is not dependent on what is going on around you.

A few lessons worth remembering out of this:

  • Children sometimes have more wisdom than we give them credit for. Listen to them.
  • If you are not a happy person, change what you are doing.  To change what you are doing, you have to start with your attitude. A sour attitude will never produce happiness. Start by not whining about everything. Nobody likes being around a whiner, by the way.
  • Seek to have joy and peace. Wrap them with faith, hope and love and you will fare well despite what life throws at you.

I was coaching an executive this week and I told him the story. He realized afterward that his attitude was pretty bad. It had caused him to have a broken relationship with his son because he was not “happy” with him.  His son did not know what he was going to do with his life, and he was 19 years old. Wow, that was a revelation for me. I did not know what I was going to do with my life till I got half way through college. I know some people in their 30s that still don’t know what they want to do, so I think 19 is still on the good side of having time to figure out what you want to do with your life.

My observation to him was this: neither of them were happy.  Something needed to change. You cannot change other people; you can only change yourself. Work on yourself and start looking for the positives in the other person instead of projecting on them what you would have done. They are not you. Allow them to be themselves. Quit assuming they are lazy just because they don’t know what to do with their lives yet. At 19 years old, the majority of people still have not figured out their purpose in life. You can help them identify what they are good at. Help them identify what they have a passion for, then help them pursue it. Praise them for what they do well. Catch them doing good instead of looking for what they have done wrong. Encourage them. Believe in them and they will likely bloom.

I advised him to ask his son what he could do to be a better father, and then just take what he told him without argument, without debate.  After getting the feedback, all he had to do was say, “Thanks for the feedback.” He thanked me for the advice and said he was going to do that that very day.  I hope he did, for his sake as well as for his son’s.

So, let me ask you, “Are you happy?” Now you know what to do.


Dan Skognes




Pick Your Poison

Posted in Funny

Pick Your Poison dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachOur grandson was over today and asked why the only soft drinks we had were diet.  I said, “Because, I don’t want all that sugar…and it allow me to eat some Oreo cookies.”  LOL.  I know. I know.  It only makes sense when you don’t say it out loud. Don’t tell me you never do this.  Do you go to the all you can eat buffet but use Sweet N Low in your tea? Um hummm.  Fess up!

It is hard to eat healthy.  I tried fasting recently and gave up meats, sweets, and bread for three days.  I thought I was dying after day one. It gave me a severe headache.  I was so glad when it ended! All I could think about during the fast was getting a big sandwich, fries, and diet drink, and visions of Twinkies danced in my head.

I tried giving up coffee once.  Never again.  I was so cranky nobody wanted to be around me.  I felt like I needed a direct IV of caffeine!  Not that I am addicted to it or anything.

I have successfully reduced the amount of coffee I drink daily.  Someone said that a pot of coffee a day was to be shared.  Who knew? I just figured this is the only vice I have left at my age.  If they want my coffee they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.  :o)

Everything in moderation, right? I admit I do like the supersized drinks at McDonalds (they are a bargain at a buck), but I like the small fries. I do have a sweet tooth.  There is not much sweet that I do not like and occasionally crave…especially chocolate! I trust that there will be chocolate in Heaven.  There has to be…right? But why do they call chocolate cake Devil’s food?  That bothers me!

To be fair, you do not have to pick a poison.  You could forego eating chocolate. Give up coffee, sugar, bread, ice cream, cookies, cake, candy, tea, chips, potatoes…and everything that is fried. You go right ahead.

I hear Popeye’s calling my name as we speak.  “Throw some cookies in there for me, will ya?”  After all…I did get the Diet Coke.


Dan Skognes