Fifty Shades of Great

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Fifty Shades of Great dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach consultantDo you believe you have the ability to be great?  Are you born with that ability? Is it genes, luck, or acquired skills that cause some people to achieve great things?  Well, it is complicated, and as the title alluded to, there are various shades of greatness which we may or may never experience.

First of all, let’s agree on one thing as an assumption.  We are born with the ability to do great things. You will see why I make this assumption as you read on. This of course assumes you have mental capabilities that are at least normal. Physical disabilities do not necessarily preclude you from achieving greatness. The Special Olympics is a living tribute to those who have not let their disability define who they are or what they can do. So, assuming that we are born with the ability to do great things, why is it some do and some don’t?

Well, let’s agree on point number two. What you think is great is not necessarily what I think is great. We all have our opinions of what constitutes greatness. If you are a gifted athlete, it may be no big deal to consistently score 30 plus points in a game like Michael Jordan, but this is where it gets tricky. There are many many gifted athletes, and yet how many Michael Jordans are there? Not many rise to that caliber, but it does not mean that the other gifted athletes are not great…just not AS great.

I was coaching an executive that aspired to perfection in all he did. It is good to aspire to great things…but perfection?  I hated to burst his bubble, but none of us are perfect. We can aspire to continuously improve. That is a good thing. But there are many shades of great that we can learn to value in ourselves and in others.

When looking at great things or great people, consider this:

  • All great things were birthed from the desire to achieve. I was salesman of the year for a major medical company one year, and you know what they did to me the next year? They raised my quota again! I exceeded the quota the next year as well. The moral is, just because you feel you have made it, realize that there is always another level to reach.  We never “arrive” this side of Heaven.
  • Celebrate each victory that you have achieved. Whether it is top salesman, number one trainer, best coach, outstanding speaker, or whatever, take that victory and savor it. Just don’t settle in it. Some people have to relive the victories of yesteryear because they don’t continue the climb, so that is all they have left is memories. That is sad, don’t you think?
  • Great people are still people.  We all have flaws, weaknesses, and things we wish we could change. Great people seem to have the ability to capitalize on their abilities and strengths to the point that we don’t focus on the frailties. Everyone loves a winner (unless you were betting against them).
  • We have a tendency to underestimate the power of a positive attitude in attaining great things. There is a proverb that says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” That would be wise to remember if you aspire to achieve the extraordinary things in life. Change your attitude if you want to affect your altitude.
  • No great thing was ever accomplished in the comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone and face your fears head on. Otherwise, you will live in the land of regret.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Be honest. Do you see greatness?  Do you see a beautiful unique creation of God, or do you focus on that new wrinkle that just popped up out of nowhere, or that new gray hair? I believe that God, because He is great, and we are made in His image, has instilled greatness in us.  It is not for our glory. It is not for our bragging rights. That is where most of us get sidetracked. It is for His glory and His purpose. We are most alive (in my humble opinion) when we have totally submitted our will to His. In the process of dying to self, we can become that which God intended for us to be all along…His great great great great children.


Dan Skognes

Despicable Me

Posted in Relationships, Spiritual

Despicable Me dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach educator

I was at a church service recently where a lady was giving her testimony.  She was giving the example of the mistakes she had made in the past that had cost her dearly. We sat spellbound listening to how she had made terrible choices and the severe consequences that resulted because of her poor judgement. Then she asked if anyone else wanted to share. Crickets….LOL. Nobody was interested in airing their dirty laundry in public. We were willing to listen to more of her stories; we just did not want to share ours!

I thought about this after church and realized what had happened and why nobody wanted to speak up.  It was actually pretty simple to understand. People do not want to think of themselves as Despicable Me. I do believe that personal testimonies are powerful to help people know the grace of God, but they can be opening a wound that you don’t want to have to relive.

Here is what I learned about Despicable Me:

  • You will never have a healthy self-image until you learn to forgive yourself and forgive others. Forgiveness is the foundation on which you can rebuild relationship and restore your self-esteem.
  • Don’t be a person that is always dredging up the past and glorifying the mistakes that were made.  I am not saying this lady did that with her testimony, but I have known people who want everyone to relive the depth of their vile behavior that they used to live in, rather than glory in the grace of God and concentrate on what He has done with them since. Concentrate on the light, not the darkness.
  • People don’t need to know the dirty details of Despicable Me.  We could all write a book if we wanted to, I am sure. We all have skeletons in the closet, but if God has forgiven us, we don’t need to continually relive that memory. Let it go. Your testimony can be general when it comes to the past mistakes. Leave the details in the closet. God does not remember them once you have confessed them, so why should you?
  • It has been said that sin takes us further than we wanted to go. It makes you stay longer than you wanted to stay, and it cost you more than you wanted to pay. So count the cost. Think before you act.

Because I have made so many mistakes in life, I do have a great perspective on what NOT to do…but I wished I would have thought about the consequences of the actions and relive that moment. The problem is, we do not have a time machine.  All we can do at this point is learn from the mistakes….and don’t repeat them. I saw a sign the other day that said, “I don’t make the same mistake twice.  I make it five or six times just to be sure.”  LOL. Sadly, I can identify with that statement at various times in my life.

If you have that perspective of yourself as Despicable Me, please know that who you see in the mirror is not necessarily who you are. We are all God’s creation. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are adopted into His family. You are not an orphan. You are forgiven, and you are loved.

I am so thankful that God loves us, despite our despicable acts. His grace and mercy are sufficient.  God gives us the ability to go beyond our ability. He can help memories that haunt us to heal. We just have to let Him lead us, and trust Him every step of the way.


Dan Skognes

Open Sesame

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Open Sesame dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coach teacher educatorThose were the famous words used in the movie Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. When the magic words were uttered, the mouth of the cave opened and a vast treasure was revealed.

It is a bit of a play on words that is fairly obvious. People have been saying “Open Says Me” since time began.  It started with Adam and Eve when they decided to circumvent God’s will for their own will. When Satan tempted them to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they invoked Open Says Me. What a price mankind has paid for THAT decision!

People employ this self-will on relationships and jobs alike. If we are honest with ourselves, we have opened a few doors that we wish we had never opened. It became more of a Pandora’s Box than a hidden treasure when we got our way, and once it was opened we were desperately trying to close it! Unfortunately, it was too late and we ended up going into the damage control mode.

The frustration usually comes from the flawed thinking that if we don’t do something ourselves and do it now, it will never happen. Think back on the times you employed the “Open Says Me” to a job or relationship you should never have been in. Afterwards, you usually wind up asking that rhetorical question, “What was I thinking?” Well, the real answer to that is that you were NOT thinking or you would not have imposed your self-will.

Here are a few things I learned about invoking Open Says Me:

  • If you are forcing the door open in a relationship or a job, it probably is not a good thing and the consequences can be disastrous. Wait for the relationships and jobs that open supernaturally. God will open doors that no man can open and close doors that no man can close. Seek His will and wait for Him.
  • Instead of invoking Open Says Me, we should be asking God if the door ahead is of Him. If it is not, why would you want to open it? You will never experience peace or satisfaction that lasts, plus you may very well miss the ideal relationship or job that God has prepared for you.
  • Open Says Me will not just sidetrack you, it will derail you and affect all those around you. It only works in the movies and if your name is Ali Baba. It does not work in the real world.
  • Be careful what you wish for. You will not be getting the treasure you seek if you are self-seeking.

Waiting on God is not an easy thing to do if your biological clock is so loud that you can’t think, or if your need for a job is so great that you will sacrifice your common sense to get a pay check. Having relationships and a good job are needs most of us can identify with, but we have to put them in alignment with God’s will or they will be like the car that you can’t keep on the road because every time you take your hands off the wheel it will veer to the right or to the left and crash. Eventually you have to let go. Like the song says, “Jesus take the wheel!”

How do you balance your will with God’s will? Very simply, you align them. You seek His will first and foremost.  His will becomes YOUR will. My dad used to say, “We will do it this weekend, Lord willing.” He understood and was teaching me how to align my will to God’s will.  I thought he just said that because he was a preacher.  He was teaching me to humble myself and my needs and bring them into perfect alignment to God’s will.

Next time you are tempted to invoke Open Says Me on a relationship or a job, think twice and see if it truly aligns with God’s perfect will for you. His timing is perfect. Don’t second guess Him. Listen to Him, trust Him, and follow Him. If you want to know His will, just ask Him. His is there for you 24/7. My favorite verses in the Bible are Proverbs 3: 5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Lean NOT to your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your paths.” Lord, let my will be yours.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

PPTW dan skognes motivation blogger speaker coach trainer educatorWaiting on God can seem like an eternity.  You know what I mean.  You have been praying about something and there just is no clear answer.  Days, months, and sometimes years go by and still no answer. Is God on vacation or what? One thing I DO know about God. He is never on vacation.  He is always there with us and for us. Just because we don’t “feel” His presence does not mean He is absent.

I am going to give you a tool that I have learned to use while I am waiting on God to answer me:

  • P = Praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, praise Him at the noonday, praise Him at supper time. God inhabits the praises of His people. You want to be closer to God? You want to know Him?  You want to hear Him? Learn the power of praise.
  • P = Pray. Just like Praise, we need to pray without ceasing. And by the way, praying is supposed to be us communicating with God…just don’t forget to listen. It is should be a two way conversation. If you do all the talking, don’t expect to hear an answer.
  • T = Trust. This is where faith comes in. I know how hard it can be to trust Him when the person you love lets you down, when you get that word from the Doctor that it is serious, or when you find out you no longer have the job you thought you would have for the rest of your life. Trust God to see you through the storms. He never said we would not go through storms. In fact, He promised us that we WOULD go through them! However, He just assured us He would be with us through it all. Trust Him. He is faithful even when we are not.
  • W = Wait. Wait on God for His perfect timing. That does not mean sitting on your hands doing nothing. You keep planting. You keep building. You keep knocking. He will open the doors that no man can open, and close the doors that no man can close, but it has to be His timing. Remember that it is not all about you or me. He will answer when the time is right.

One additional thing to pray for is not that God give you opportunities. He WILL give you opportunities. Pray that you recognize them when they happen and you don’t miss it. Opportunities don’t go away, they just go to the next person who recognizes them and THEY get the blessing.

Don’t miss your blessing. Be ready. Stay focused. Don’t despair. God knows the storm you are in. Even if YOU created the storm, God is not surprised and He is still with you to help you and sustain you.

When you are in that period of waiting on God to come through, think about Him and think about others. Get your focus off of your circumstances and off of yourself. Quit worrying. Try PPTW and see if you don’t have a renewed sense of hope. That is really what we need, isn’t it? We just want to know that our hope is not in vain.

God has not forgotten us. Trust Him.  Press in to Him. Read His Word. Meditate on it so that you can renew your mind. Remind yourself of His promises. Today is a new day. Who knows, perhaps the door you have been seeking will open for you today. I pray it does for both of us. Till it does, I will PPTW.


Dan Skognes