In Looking Back We Understand

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

In Looking Back We Understand dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIt is difficult if not impossible to totally understand what you are going through until you have been through it. When the walls are caving in and it seems like the pain and agony will not stop, it is very hard to think clearly and objectively.  We all just want the pain to stop…right?

However, this is not how life works. We have to take the bumps and bruises along the way.  We all have to take the good with the bad, don’t we? Well, to a degree this is true. The truth is: we will make choices along the way that either help us or hurt us.

If you are going through a particularly difficult time in your life, perhaps it is time to take inventory of where you have been. Consider these:

  • Where have I failed? Take ownership for mistakes and misjudgments you have made. Quit blaming your parents, your boss, your company,  your spouse, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your buddies, or even your enemies. Ask yourself, “What have I done to contribute to where I am today and how can I change it?”
  • Where have I succeeded? You may be one of those people who continually says, “I am not good at anything!  I am just a failure.” Stop it. There is GREAT power in the words you speak. Quit speaking curses over yourself. Everyone has succeeded at something at some point in their lives. What makes you truly come alive when you do it? If you don’t know what you are really good at, get someone to coach you. A good coach will be able to help you see those things in yourself that are positive and encourage you to explore doing more of those things.
  • Develop the habit of succeeding instead of failing. That requires perseverance, hard work, and self-confidence. Don’t forget to throw in some humility to balance the self-confidence.
  • Quit griping about your trials and tribulations to everyone. If you have a habit of complaining about life to anyone that will listen, you will find people drawing away from you…unless of course they are pessimists as well, in which case you will be drowning your sorrows together. Surround yourself with optimists if you want to find some joy in your life.
  • When you are going through a particularly difficult time in your life, get proper rest, eat the right kind of food, and exercise. That will help you deal with the stress in a healthy way. Avoid binging and if you are prone to have an addictive nature, don’t fall into that pit to ease the pain. Pain is nature’s way of helping us correct our course. We may not like it, but it can be a positive force to help us adjust our thinking and behaviors.
  • One of the positive things that can come out of your trials and tribulations is a testimony. You will be able to help other people who are going through the same thing and encourage them to endure it, and you will be stronger for it as well. There is no testimony without a test.
  • Suicide seems to be running rampant in this day and age. People are taking things into their own hands to end the torment and pain, when in reality it is a temporary thing. Don’t listen to that voice that tells you to end it all. That is evil incarnate. Your life has a purpose. There is a reason you are here, and if you are not where you want to be, you CAN change. You can change the people you hang with, the things you watch, the things you read, the things you listen to, and the things you believe…starting with what you believe about who you are and why you are here.

What you are going through will make more sense to you after you have completed the journey. The length of the journey may vary, but you will understand when you come through it. Hang in there, and don’t waste your pain. Remember: baby steps.


Dan Skognes


Ask, Don’t Tell

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Ask Dont Tell dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThis is a true story.  A humanitarian group went from Europe to Africa to help a very poor village.  There was a lush green valley right next to a river in this village, yet they had not planted anything.  Ernesto Sirolli, who was leading the group, was dumbfounded.  He told the chief of the village that they were going to teach this tribe how to grow tomatoes and zucchini not only for their own consumption, but they could also sell it and help the economy of the village as well.

They brought seeds from Italy of the finest tomatoes and zucchini.  When they asked the tribesmen to help plant the seeds, they got resistance.  Nobody wanted to work!  What were they going to do?  Well, they decided that they would PAY them to help plant the seeds.  Oddly enough, only a few stepped up to help.  But, determined that they were going to do this for the village, they got it done.  The seeds were planted and because the land was so fertile, it grew very quickly.  The tomatoes and zucchini looked like they were on steroids.  They were huge because of the rich soil!

Ernesto and his team were so proud of what they had done!  One morning before the crop had been harvested, Ernesto woke up to a horrible sight.  The entire crop had been wiped out!  You could almost see him with that Home Alone look on his face (hopefully you are not too young to remember that movie). He asked the tribe chief what happened, and he said in a matter of fact manner, “A large herd of hippos came out of the river and ate the crop and stomped and pooped on the rest of it.  That is why we don’t plant anything there.”

Ernesto was beside himself, “WHY didn’t you TELL us that?!!!”

The Chief simply said, “You did not ask.”

Talk about a hard lesson to learn.  Wow.  You might be shaking your head right now and thinking, “What a knucklehead,” but look in the mirror.  Are you telling me you have never done anything like this?  Maybe you don’t do this on this grand of a scale, but how about when you make a presentation to someone?  Are you so busy telling them how great your product or service is that you have no idea what they really need?

Instead of telling and selling, we need to be sharing and caring.  Shut up and listen.  Ask good questions about who they are, what issues they face, what things they fear.  What do they need from their perspective? We need to share THEIR vision, look through THEIR eyes, then empathize!

Once we know them and truly show we care , we can serve them. Serving their need is not selling them.  If you are have to convince them to buy, you have done them a disservice.  If the Hippos destroyed your crop, you know you missed the mark.


Dan Skognes

Mind What Matters

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Mind What Matters dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

Have you ever found yourself fretting over little things? Well, if you are human, there have been times in your life where you have worried over things that in hindsight did not matter. How do you break that cycle of worrying over little things?

  • First, you have to recognize and admit that worry does no good.  If you can do something about what worries you, do it.  If it is out of your control, pray about it. In fact, pray about it either way and change it if you can.
  • Learn to let it go. Keeping yourself stirred up is not a healthy way to live. Let go of the small stuff.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen here?” The reality is that we tend to blow things out of proportion and expect things that will never happen. Learn to expect good things to happen regardless of what you see happening and how you feel. That is the essence of faith.
  • The life we live is short. Don’t waste it worrying about the “what ifs” that will never come to be.
  • Evaluate what really matters to you. For me, it is my faith in God, my family, my friends, and my career….in that order. The times I get out of whack are usually when I get those priorities out of order. Never allow your job to dictate your happiness because it cannot give you that. You job should not define who you are. It is what you do, not who you are. When you put your work before God, your family, or your friends, you will be setting yourself up for a bitter pill to swallow.
  • Mind what matters. Pay attention to those things that have true value. Nurture your relationships. Those are the things that really matter. Honor God first and foremost, then realize we are responsible for those people that God puts in our pathway each day…to be loving, kind, encouraging, and respectful to them. That can be challenging if you are dealing with someone who is having a bad day and they are determined to have you share their grief! If you have kids, you know what I am talking about. Love them anyway. Be kind to them anyway. Encourage them anyway. Respect them anyway.  Remember that love is the only thing that can melt a heart of stone.

I hope that you will let go of the little things that are bugging you and mind what matters.


Dan Skognes

Our Most Important Asset

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Our Most Important Asset dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorWhat is our most important asset? If I asked this question, I would probably get a thousand different answers. You might hear people talk about our natural resources, our land, our intellectual capital, our businesses, our Constitution, etc. However, I think we need to think smaller…much smaller. In my opinion, children are the one thing that we often overlook and yet need to value highly. They are more important than we admit, and more important than we might imagine.

How can I claim children are our most important asset?

  • Children are our future. They are our future leaders, teachers, doctors, policemen, preachers, sales people, auto mechanics, etc. You might want to be kind to your future care givers and give them the respect and support that they need to grow up to be healthy human beings.
  • Children still have an excitement about life. They are not burned out by working in jobs they hate. They love to learn, love to laugh, and love to just live. Learn to take joy in the simple things of life like a child does. See life through the eyes of a child if you want to improve your vision.
  • There is still an innocence about children that is both refreshing and encouraging….despite the onslaught of the internet and social media to steal their innocence. Protect their innocence at all costs. Innocence lost can never be regained….so treat it as a sacred obligation that we all have to protect.
  • Children are the reminder of who we once were. We need reminders to stop and smell the roses….to look at the clouds in the sky and wonder why the wind blows like it does. Never lose the wonder of the world we are blessed to live in. Sometimes you’ve got to remember to dance in the rain.
  • Investing in children pays huge dividends in a short period of time. The beauty of kids is that they are so easy to encourage and to love, and in return, they amaze you with what they know and give you back more than you ever expected. We tend to underestimate kids: what they know and what they can do. They are far more advanced than we like to admit, and they are wired to love in return.
  • Children remind us that everyone needs to be heard and appreciated. It does not matter how old you are or what grade you are in. You want to know that your voice and your opinion matters.

Next time that you are meeting with your CPA and discussing all the assets that matter to you most, put aside the spread sheet and look at your family tree. Invest in the little ones. You won’t be disappointed in the returns. Hugs, kisses, and special artwork just for you are worth more than gold, stocks, and bonds. The returns you get for investing in them is seen for generations to come; pretty amazing when you think about the power of love and how easy it is to replicate.

P.S.  Recently I was teaching a group of first grade kids and this one little girl is sitting at the table next to me. She looked at me as I was teaching the lesson and out of the blue says, “I love you!”  LOL. I melted. It was so sweet and unexpected. You never know what they are going to say….and on this occasion, it made my day.


Dan Skognes