Fully Present

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

OK, I am just going to say it: Men have a problem being fully present. I am not bashing men in any way. This is a tutorial for ladies to better understand men, and for men, it is a wake-up call. Win-win.

Life is distracting for all of us, but I think men are challenged when getting into the communication zone. Not all of them, for sure, but enough of them for ladies to be concerned.

Things to remember about men (in general):

  • We don’t multi-task very well. We tend to focus on the project at hand and get it done.
  • Men are problem solvers. We like to come up with solutions to problems. If you don’t want a solution, please don’t tell us about your problem. If you are just venting, please say so.
  • Men don’t have to be thinking about anything. We can be right there by your side and not thinking anything in particular. It is a gift.
  • Men have a better chance of being fully present if the TV, computer, and phone are turned off.
  • Places where men are guaranteed to be fully present: a sporting event, a get together with their male friends, or doing their hobby (whatever that is).
  • The term “selective hearing” came about back in the Garden of Eden when Eve asked Adam what she should do, and he was silent.

Being fully present requires us to focus, put away all distractions, and truly listen. In this age of constant interruption and noise, that can be difficult if not impossible.

For men, here is my advice:

  • You don’t have to change who you are, you just need to be fully present especially when your wife says, “We need to talk.”
  • If you want to earn some Brownie points with your wife, turn off all electronics and take your wife for a drive or go for a walk, then ask her about her day. Don’t say anything about your day…no matter how good or how bad it was. Your day does not matter at this point.
  • If something is wrong with your wife, ask her what it is. If she answers, “Nothing,” don’t believe it! Keep probing to find out what YOU did wrong.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Cool Hand Luke is one of my all-time favorite movies. There is a great line in the movie where the Captain of the prison guards (played by Strother Martin) is talking to Paul Newman about his behavior issues. He says in his Southern twang voice, “What we got here is a failure to communicate.” It is both funny and sadly ironic that we could use that line on a daily basis with someone in OUR lives.

We need to learn the art of communicating. Everyone wants to be heard but few are willing to listen. We tend to be formulating our argument or next comment before the other person has even finished their statement. That causes all kinds of problems because the other person never feels truly heard. In truth, they have a right to feel misunderstood if we don’t listen to them.

There is an old adage that says: We have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately. Too many of us don’t take that to heart. Some people take it as a challenge and it becomes a duel of words, and they are determined to get in the last lick (pun intended).

If there is a wall between you and someone else, get over it. Communicating with someone who has shut you out or shut you down can be daunting if not impossible. So, what can be done?

  1. Build a bridge by letting them know you are open to communicating.
  2. Be willing to hear things that are probably going to hurt and may cut you to the core.
  3. Apologize for things you have done wrong.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.

You probably have heard this: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I wish we could all remember that simple rule of kindness.

I know that sometimes you can’t continue a relationship due to abuse. In that case, you can still get over it by forgiving them and moving on. Boundaries are for your own sanity and safety. Those things should never be sacrificed, but if it is possible to mend the relationship, then by all means, build the bridge and attempt to cross it.


Dan Skognes

Lessons from the NBA

Posted in Business, Motivational

If you watched the Houston Rockets play the Golden State Warriors last night, you had to be shaking your head no matter whom you were pulling for. The first half of the game looked like it would be a blowout with Houston doing everything right and the Warriors just not clicking. Houston had a 15 point lead at one time.

I am not sure what the coach of the Warriors said, but it probably had something to do with, “This game is not over….let’s finish it and show them who we are.” As the second half began, you could feel the momentum swing in favor of the Warriors. I told my wife, “If they tie the game, they will win it.” And that is what they did.

Here are few takeaways (pun intended):

  • It does not matter so much how you start as to how you finish. If you can start strong and finish strong, that is ideal, but at the very least finish strong. This week the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers both showed why they are perennial powerhouses to be contended with. They deserve to be here.
  • If your plan A is not working, you better have a plan B. Houston set an all-time record for missed 3 point attempts. If you are the coach and watching shot after shot go astray, why in the world would you allow them to keep throwing up bricks? 27 missed 3 point shots are unbelievable. What was the coach thinking?
  • It does not matter what kind of season you have had when you are in the playoffs. You could be the best team on the planet, but if you are in game 7 of a playoff series, it is time to play big or go home. Houston was on their heels in the second half of the game and could not buy a bucket. They were even inconsistent with layups and shots at the free throw line.

I was pulling for the Celtics and Houston because they were the underdogs, and the Mavericks were not in the mix. Sadly, they both showed why they were not ready for the championship. Maybe next year. I hope so, but go Mavericks!


Dan Skognes

Jumping To Conclusions

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Have you noticed how some folks jump to conclusions before getting all the facts? It is a pet peeve of mine. I wish I could wave a magic wand and get people to just check the facts before they speak.

I had this conversation with a lady recently who was on a rant about our President. While I know he is controversial in many respects, the things she was spouting out as facts just did not bear up in the light. When I asked her where she heard it, she said she heard it on the evening news.

Well, if it is said on the news or on the internet, it HAS to be factual….right? Good thing we don’t have to worry about spin doctors and news pundits spreading their own versions of truth.

When one of our daughters was around five years old, she was sitting in the shopping cart and started reading the headlines of the magazines at the checkout counter. One of the magazines said in bold print, “What Men Want From Women.” Misty, our daughter, got really excited and said loudly to the woman standing behind our cart, “I know what men want from women!” The woman turned red and put her hand out as if to say, “No…don’t say it.” Misty has never been one to be stopped from speaking her mind, so she continued, “Men want food!”  The woman breathed a sigh of relief and chuckled at her statement.

Sometimes we jump to conclusions because of prejudice (like the first lady I alluded to). Sometimes it is because we think we know what someone is going to say (like Misty). Sometimes we just don’t listen.

The internet is great on so many levels, but my advice is to check your facts before you post them. SNOPES is a great site to check what is true or not. If you read something that sounds ridiculous, think about it from a logical standpoint. Just because you get an email from someone with an important sounding title telling you that someone wants to give you $5,000,000 US does not make it true. Check your facts, use common sense, think before you speak. That’s not too much to ask, is it?


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“Logic will get you from point A to point B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein

A young child was sitting in his art class and scribbling on some paper. When the teacher asked him what he was doing, he said, “I am drawing a picture of God.” The teacher responded, “But nobody knows what God looks like!”  The young boy smiled and said, “They will in a minute.”

We could learn a lot from children. They have the magical ability to see things that adults have long since forgotten. Kids are not concerned so much with what they see physically. They are able to see things in their mind and imagine them to be true. That is why a boy can tie a towel around his neck and suddenly he becomes Superman. I did that myself when I was a kid. While I am still Superman, I had to ditch the towel. LOL.

I love being around creative people. They inspire me with how they think. They not only think outside the box, they throw it out! If you have a team of people that you work with, you would be wise to include some of the creative types in your strategy sessions. They may not be the pragmatists that you rely upon daily, but they will help you think of solutions to problems that nobody else can see.

The value of imagination is that it takes you to places you never knew existed, shows you things you never dreamed of, and helps you solve problems that need a miracle to fix. Surrounding yourself with creative people will help you to broaden your perspective and find roads that don’t show up on the map.

Creative types tend to march to the beat of a different drum. Just because you don’t think the way that they do does not make you right and them wrong. Allow yourself the freedom to think differently. Who knows what things you will discover about yourself, your friends, your family, and the problems you face? I would say: “The sky is the limit,” but use your imagination. If there were no limits, where would it take you?

“A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” Catherine the Great


Dan Skognes

One of the Greatest Gifts

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

If I asked you what are the greatest gifts you can give to someone, the list would probably not include this one: managing expectations…and yet it is definitely one of the greatest gifts we can give to anybody.

When you manage expectations of others, you do several critical things for them:

  • It reveals who you are to them.
  • It lets them know what you are going to do.
  • It lets them know when it will be done.
  • It lets them know what the outcome will look like.
  • It gives them a sense of peace and purpose.

That is a pretty nice gift to give anyone, don’t you think? The beauty is, it cost you nothing to give…just some effort. And yet, how often do we find ourselves disillusioned with someone because they did not communicate properly? Just this week I had three girls that I teach that were all in tears because their parents had assured them that they would be at the graduation ceremony for them…and then no showed. I gave them a group hug and told them that I was going to be their family that day. While I was glad that I was there for them, what an opportunity the parents missed. Those scars will not easily be healed in their tender hearts.

Whether you are a CEO, Manager, Principal, Teacher, Salesman, Mom, Dad, or just a Human Being, learn the art of managing expectations. I know that life throws curve balls from time to time and adjustments have to be made accordingly. Just communicate before the 11th hour what is happening and don’t make it a habit. When it becomes habitual, you lose all credibility. In the case of the three girls I mentioned above, a call to the school could have been made to soften the blow and then explain what happened to them in detail later, but that did not happen…obviously.

When it comes to children, we have a sacred responsibility to communicate fully with them. If we don’t, the outcomes are not going to be good for anyone. You can take that to the bank. If you don’t manage expectations, you reap the results of hurt feelings, anger, broken relationships, and chaos. Does anyone want that? Care enough to communicate.


Dan Skognes

The Optimist and the Pessimist

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

We all fall into one of two categories. We may be a combination of the two, but we are primarily one or the other. I have heard people who are pessimists justify being that way by saying they are realists. Hmmmm. I think they are wrong for the following reasons:

  • Pessimism is rooted in fear. Optimism is rooted in hope.
  • Pessimists think they can’t. Optimists think either they can or they might.
  • Pessimists wallow in the dark. Optimists find the light.
  • Pessimists tend to be self-absorbed. Optimists tend to focus on others.
  • Pessimists love to draw you into their drama. Optimists avoid drama unless it is at the movies.
  • Pessimists follow up your advice with, “Yes, but….” They have an excuse for every option you throw out. Optimists listen without rebuttal and consider the options.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” 
― James Branch CabellThe Silver Stallion

The good news is that we can choose to be optimistic. There is a scripture that tells us to take every thought captive. Let that sink in for a moment. If you could take every thought captive, what would your world look like? Would it change your outlook on things? Would it change the way you talk to yourself?  Would it change the way you see and treat others? I am betting it would!

Next time you have a negative thought about yourself, someone else, or a situation you are in, take that thought captive. Replace it with something positive. Having an attitude of gratitude goes hand in hand with optimism. Learn to be grateful for the little things in life. Ungrateful people are always pessimistic. Which will you choose today? Will it be the glass half full, or the glass half empty?

Zig Ziglar said we need a “check up from the neck up.” I love that. Zig called pessimism stinkin’ thinkin.’ It is only when we get rid of it that we can see life as it really is: a thing of joy, beauty, hope, and love. That is a reality worth pursuing, isn’t it?


Dan Skognes

Things My Parents Taught Me

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Recently a lady asked me, “What things did your parents say to you that you hated?” That is a thought provoking question and frankly, I did not really want to relive those things again, but I did. It did not take long to remember some things that they said. I thought to myself that I would never say them myself, but life has a way of bringing things out of us that we don’t like.

  • “Because I said so.” I particularly hated that one because it did not leave the door open for discussion. I knew if I said anything else my seat of learning might meet the board of education. Today I try to give kids the opportunity to dialog, but some kids just like to argue. For the debaters I sometimes have to resort to the “Because I said so” answer. In time they will hopefully understand the love and wisdom of my decision in their behalf.
  • “Don’t talk back to me.” This is the cousin of “Because I said so” and has the same effect of shutting down a discussion. I try to use it only as a last resort.
  • “Sit still!” This was an impossible task for me when I was little and it still is at times.
  • “Take your nap.” The funny thing is now I LOVE nap time. I just wish I could take them during the week.

Things they taught me that were good and have stuck with me all my life:

  • Love God and put Him first in all you do.
  • Love your family and be there for each other.
  • Be on time. That means be early.
  • Be thankful.
  • Take care of what you have.
  • Be a giver. Help those less fortunate.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your faith with others.
  • Spend time with the people you love because time goes by too quickly.
  • Develop strong friendships. Don’t take them for granted.
  • Use your God-given talents.
  • Work hard but enjoy the journey.
  • Pray without ceasing. Pray about everything and for everyone…especially our leaders.
  • Trust God’s Word.
  • Don’t live a life of fear or regret.
  • Respect others.
  • Respect yourself.


Dan Skognes

Declaration of Dependence

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to dissolve our dependence on self, we acknowledge that we depend on God almighty.

He and He alone is our Creator, Lord, and Master. These truths are self-evident, and yet many reject the truth. As for me and my house, we don’t just accept it; we embrace it. We proclaim it.

May the Lord God be with us, guide us, protect us, and deliver us from evil. May He give us the physical and spiritual food we need this day. May He protect our hearts and minds and deliver us from temptation. May He forgive us where we fail Him and where we fail each other.

I bow before you Father, and ask your mercy on me, my family, my country, and the world you lovingly created. I pray for the hearts of all men to be turned to You and that Your peace and love will rule our lives. I reaffirm this day my total dependence on You. Amen.


Dan Skognes

You Know You Are Old

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

  • If you ever called flip-flops thongs. Years ago my daughter asked me what I was looking for and I told her, “My thongs.” She got this horrified look on her face and informed me that they were called flip-flops, not thongs!
  • If you remember getting your first TV. It was bulky, had a black and white picture, and got 3 channels.
  • If you remember TV, movies, and music not laced with sex, profanity, or extreme bloodshed and yet they were classics.
  • If you remember what you used to do before cell phones and the internet.
  • If you had to eat what Mamma fixed or you didn’t eat at all.
  • If they still had prayer and discipline in schools.
  • If you watched the astronauts walking on the moon for the first time.
  • If you remember where you were when JFK was shot.
  • If you ever have said to someone, “Back in my day….”
  • If you remember when Roe vs. Wade became law.
  • If the serious behavior issues in your school were running in the halls, chewing gum, or talking too much.
  • If your school or car did not have air conditioning when you were growing up.
  • If you knew it was time for dinner because the sun was setting.
  • If it seemed that everything you ate was deep fried, full of fat, covered in gravy, and mighty tasty.
  • If a handshake was as good as a signed contract.
  • If you remember when people stood for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.
  • If your parents let you play outside all day without worry.
  • If one of your first bikes was a Stingray.
  • If you clipped playing cards to the spokes of your bike to make it sound cool.
  • If you thought that marijuana would never be legalized.
  • If you every played Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, or Pacman.
  • If Etch A Sketch was your first computer.
  • If you remember gas for under $0.25 a gallon.
  • If you ever ate Swanson TV Dinners.
  • If you don’t give a flip what other people think anymore.
  • If people who visit tell you that the TV is awfully loud.
  • If you know what this ad was about: “A little dab will do ya.”
  • If you wondered: “Who were those old people at your class reunion?”


Dan Skognes