Give Latitude Instead of Attitude

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Give Latitude Instead of Attitude dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorDo you want to have less stress in your life?  Do you want to wake up saying, “Good morning, Lord!” instead of “Good Lord, its morning!?” Do you want to see the cup half full instead of the cup half empty? Well, if you are normal, the obvious answer is “Yes.”

So why do we settle for giving attitude instead of latitude when nothing good comes from giving attitude? There are several reasons I see that we revert to this unhealthy behavior:

  • Insecurity. We are not confident in ourselves so we over-compensate.
  • Fear. We are afraid of the outcome if we don’t assert ourselves.
  • Selfishness. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about others.
  • Bitterness. When we fail to forgive others that have wronged us, we only hurt ourselves.

When we give latitude to others, it says a lot about who we are:

  • We are people who have learned to control our emotions instead of letting them control us. That is called “growing up.”
  • It shows that we understand what love is all about. Love is patient, kind, understanding, and selfless.
  • Every time we show latitude it helps us grow, and others are blessed at the same time.
  • It means we will live longer, healthier, and happier lives as we detox ourselves of stress.

So, next time you are in traffic and someone cuts you off, what are you going to do? You can let it go and bless them, or you can flip them off and curse them; your choice. Someone said: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You are not going anywhere until you change it.”

Life is too short to live stressed and depressed. The good news is: all you have to do is flip the switch. You can go from attitude to latitude with a little practice and you will see good things happen as a result:

  • The sun will shine brighter.
  • The air will smell sweeter.
  • Food will taste better. Seriously, when you don’t have an upset stomach from all the stress you are carrying, food tastes great!
  • The future will be something to anticipate with joy instead of dread.
  • You will sleep better.
  • You will have healthier relationships.

Sometimes we feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train that is bearing down on us at full speed. Quit worrying; it does no good. Quit stressing; it can kill you. Quit griping about what you don’t have and thank God for what you DO have. Give others what you expect: the benefit of the doubt.

You get to choose how your life will be lived out. Give latitude. You will never regret the blessings that you and others receive.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Engagement dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coachThis is probably one of the most used and abused words in the training and education world.  It does not matter if you are talking about teachers, trainers, coaches, managers, or leaders….engagement (or lack thereof) is an issue.

Is there a simple way to get people engaged in their work, their classroom, or their families?  Well, what I have found is that the answer is both simple and complex.

You begin with the mind, but you have to capture the heart. You can teach someone facts and figures all day long and have it go in one hear and out the other. We have all experienced that.  So the real question is: How do you capture the heart?

Relationship is the best way to engage someone.  If you have relationship with someone, then they listen not just to the words, but to the meaning. They are open to the teaching because they trust you. They will listen because they feel heard and respected. They anticipate that they will gain something from the teaching.

But what do you do if there is no relationship?  How do you capture the heart of someone that wants nothing to do with you or what you have to say? It that even possible?  The answer is yes, but with some conditions. If you want to capture someone’s heart that you trying to teach, here are the rules for engagement:

  1. You still build a bridge for the relationship. You cannot force people to have relationship with you, but it is your responsibility to build a bridge for them to cross when they are ready, then you give them every reason to cross it by being trustworthy, non- judgmental, loving, kind, transparent, and patient. It may take some time, but many people will cross the bridge if they believe you are for real and not here today and gone tomorrow. If they believe that you truly care about them, that is half the battle.
  2. You have to learn to speak their language. Every person on this planet speaks their own dialect. It is unique to them, just like their fingerprints. It is based on their experience, their age, their intellect, their family, their culture, even where they live. You have to learn to speak the verbiage they understand. Have you ever been in a room and someone starts throwing out $10 words expecting that you know them, and you feel like a dummy because you feel clueless about what they just said? Don’t assume people know what you mean. Don’t use acronyms with people that don’t know your industry. Check for understanding. Look for clues in body language as to whether they get it or not. Ask them to rephrase in their own words what you just said if there is any doubt that they understand.
  3. You have to not just strive to build relationship and speak their language; you have to give them something of value. If there is no perceived value, you’ve lost them. Let them know what is in it for them and how this will help them. Relate it to real life.

I was teaching a class of third graders and this one kid was being a bully to someone else. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “He made me mad, so I hit him.  My mom told me not to take anything off of anyone.” How do you override advice from Mom?  Carefully!

I put on my referee hat and said, “Well, in this school and in this class it is NOT OK to hit anyone, so let me give you some advice to help you for the rest of your life. If you go around hitting people that upset you, what do you think can happen?”  The hands were flying up across the room. “You can get hurt,” one kid said. I responded, “Yes, and you could go to jail or even get killed! It is serious stuff to start taking the law into your own hands, so don’t do it. If you have a problem with another child, you come get me or another teacher to help you. In the words of the song from one of your favorite movies, let it go!” The kids laughed and started singing the chorus of the song.  It was pretty funny. The tension was gone and order was restored…at least for the moment.

So, if you want to engage your class, your team, your company, or your family, build the relationship bridge. Anticipate that at some point they WILL cross it. Learn to speak their language, and have something of value to give them verbally. The reward is worth the effort. If you want to teach them, you’ve got to reach them.


Dan Skognes

My Favorite Teacher

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Ann Christian dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was recently interviewing for a teaching job, and one of the questions was, “What teacher had the most impact on your life?”  That was an easy question for me: Ann Christian. Ms. Christian was my 10th grade English teacher back in 1967. She was awesome, and she changed my life without ever knowing it.

It was an act of God that brought me to her class to begin with. I was getting ready to go to High School and excited to be moving up with the friends I had made over the past few years. Then I got the news. I was not going to Woodrow Wilson with my friends.  Because of where we lived, I was on the fringe of the district and they decided I should go to another school in Dallas….Hillcrest High.

I was not a happy camper over that and tried to figure out how to go to Woodrow, but there was no getting around the system. I had to go to Hillcrest! Fate, it seemed was taking me down an unknown pathway.

That decision turned out to be a good thing for me. Hillcrest was predominantly Jewish at the time. There were also three black kids…and me…a white Protestant. There may have been other Protestants at the school, but I never met them. I decided to make the most of it since I really had no control of where I was going to go.

Ms. Christian had an incredible impact on me. Here are a few things I loved about her as my teacher:

  • She encouraged me to write, and that is something that I have done ever since I was in her class.
  • She saw things in people that they did not see themselves and was able to draw that out of them. I had no idea that I loved to write till she gave me the key to unlock that door and encouraged me to open it. I have that ability today to draw things out of people that they do not see in themselves, thanks to Ms. Christian.
  • I had the reputation as the teacher’s pet…but I was OK with that because I knew she really loved me….and I loved her. I would have done anything to make her proud of me. She had that ability to inspire people to greatness.
  • I have to admit I was initially drawn to her teaching because she was so beautiful. How can a 10th grade boy NOT love a great looking teacher that truly cares about him and everyone in her class? I realized as I got to know her that it was her internal beauty…her character…that really attracted me the most to her as a teacher. She was genuine…the “Real Deal” as we say here in Texas.
  • She could correct you without crushing you.  I remember one day I was laughing and talking to my neighbor in class and she called my name. I looked up at her with an “Uh-Oh” face, and she smiled, shook her head, and said, “I just can’t get mad at you!” We laughed, and I shut up and got back on task. She made her point, but she spoke it in love.

I tried for years to find out what happened to her. I wanted to thank her for the impact she had had on my life. Unfortunately, I found out she died in 2007, and she had been living in the town I was born in: Waco.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I would have driven down to Waco had I known where she was.

Ms. Christian, you will always be special in my heart. I wish I could have told you how much you meant to me throughout my life. Thanks for inspiring me to think, to learn, and create.

If there was someone like Ms. Christian who really impacted your life for the good, please tell them while you can. You never know when it will be too late to let them know how much you cared for them…and it will be the reward they lived for…to know they left a legacy of learning and love.


Dan Skognes