Let Kids Be Kids

Posted in Business, Relationships

Kids are cool! I love they way they look at life. It is full of wonder, playfulness, and adventure. We as adults sometimes look at them as little aliens…particularly if they are our own kids and so different from us! Come on, admit it. You have probably wondered once or twice if your kids were really from the same gene pool. LOL. That is OK. It is normal to think that.

There is something very weird about family dynamics. How can one child be calm and introverted and the next kid be a bottle rocket that is constantly lit up? Doesn’t it make you wonder??? How can kids from the same parents be so different? It has driven many parents into therapy wondering what they are doing wrong. The truth is, that is just the way kids come out. No two are exactly alike…even if they are identical twins. They each have a unique blueprint and it is our job as parents and educators to be able to read the blueprint!

I realize that may be easier said than done, but if you look at kids as individuals, unique, and full of potential, it makes it a lot easier to overlook the quirks and help them find their way. The world seems intent on conformity, and yet that is not how we are wired. Perhaps you remember being left-handed and being forced to write with your right hand. That is pretty messed up thinking! Let kids be who they were created to be. Help them find their natural gifts, and guide them without stifling their personality or crushing their dreams. Imagination is a wonderful thing to help kids learn. Help them keep their imaginations alive and thriving.

It is my humble opinion, but I just think we need to let kids be kids. Let them play, let them imagine, and let them learn in creative ways…ways that speak to THEM. If we do that, we are not just doing them a favor, we are giving them the keys to unlock a beautiful life and truly contribute to their family and society. Sometimes the misfits are simply misunderstood. That is one of the great rewards of parenting and teaching: helping kids figure out who they are and giving them the tools to make a great life for themselves.

There are three things that every child needs: 1. They want to be heard. 2.They want to be accepted. 3. They want to be loved. Maybe they are not so alien after all.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

The Most Important Thing We Teach

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

We could have a pretty lively debate over what is the most important thing we teach kids: Reading, math, science, social studies, chemistry, music, art, physical education, etc., but while these are all important to a well rounded education, they don’t hit the bullseye.

In my opinion, the most important thing we teach kids are life lessons. These are the intangible things that are not generally found in a text book, but are so important to being a healthy human being. These are taught and hopefully modeled by most teachers, and the excellent ones are those that make them personalized to each student wherever they are emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Think about it. What is more important than teaching some core values to kids that they may or may not get at home? Hopefully, the parents are doing their job too, but as we all know, there are many kids who come from some pretty jacked up situations, and we are left to figure out how to help them put the pieces together again at school.

When we teach kids to be loving, kind, forgiving, empathetic, how to be respectful, how to have self-control, how to be a friend to someone that is isolated, how to be accepting of people with different skin color, different religion, different beliefs than our own, aren’t these the things that make us ready to go into the world and be a whole person?

I don’t minimize the 3Rs and all the other courses that are taught, but without the life lessons, we are sending out kids to do battle without the full armor they need. Let’s do our part as teachers and give them every opportunity to succeed.

P.S. Outside of life lessons, I think reading is one of the most important subjects as all the others tend to hinge on it in one way or another. One thing I learned in high school that I never thought I would use was typing, and yet I have used that skill almost every day of my life since then. Who knew that would be a critical skill? Probably only my typing teacher knew for sure.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

BC

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Everyone knows what BC stands for in a date…like 200BC. Most everyone knows it stands for Before Christ. Now a bit of trivia. Without Googling it, what does AD stand for in a date? Go ahead and guess. I will answer it at the end of this blog, so don’t cheat. LOL.

Some day we are going to look back at 2020BC. How can that be? Because BC in this instance refers to Before Covid. People ten years from now will look back and remember when life was normal. Wow, how things have changed, and not for the better.

Think about the things that have all happened to us in a matter of months:

  • Masks and social distancing are now mandatory for the foreseeable future, and maybe the rest of our lives according to some “experts.”
  • Online learning has become part of our education toolbox and for some people will be the sole path forward for learning.
  • Businesses which previously were thriving in our economy are now closed or severely restricted in how they operate. Some will never recuperate from their losses.
  • Churches are for the most part still closed and restricted to online broadcasts. Somehow they were not deemed essential businesses.
  • Funeral homes are backed up and have restrictions about how they operate.

I can hardly wait for Halloween. I am going to go Trick or Treating with NO MASK. Pretty scary, huh? LOL. Seriously, these are bizarre days to say the least. I can’t imagine what young kids must think that just a few months ago were going to school, going to church, playing with their friends, and just enjoying life. They have to be wondering what in the world is going on here?

I know people talk about the “new normal” as something we have to accept, but I have a problem with that. All of this is not normal. What we had BC was normal. Yes, we had problems. We had war, racial strife (which is still going on), social issues, poverty, etc…but we had the freedom to go to school, go to church, go to funerals, go to visit our loved ones in the hospital, get on a plane and travel the world without feeling paranoid, operate our businesses freely, go to sporting events, and much more.

Somehow we need (as a country and as a world) to figure out how to deal with something like Covid. We can’t live our lives in constant fear, worrying about “what if?” I do believe in using common sense. I wash my hands. I stay home and isolate myself when I am sick. I cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze, and wash my hands afterwards. I have done all of that for many years. Perhaps it is how I was raised, but my 20 years in healthcare didn’t hurt my thoughts about germ control either. Imagine if everyone would do those things consistently.

I know that everyone is praying for a vaccine to fix this issue, but what do we do with the NEXT pandemic? What if the vaccine doesn’t work? I am just saying, there are no vaccines made for future diseases that don’t even exist yet. I don’t have the answers…just pointing out the obvious problems we face in this country and around the world. Countries that have less sanitary conditions are obviously more at risk than the U.S. There are a lot of questions we have to face and problems we have to prepare for. I pray that our President, our Congress, our Governors and Mayors all work together to help us find a way through the wilderness we are now lost in and quit the political bickering. Someday we will look back at early 2020 and remember what life used to look like.

O.K. For those of you that have been chomping at the bit to have the answer to the trivia question, AD is Latin for Anno Domini, and means “in the year of the Lord” referring to the birth of Christ. Bet you didn’t know that! Anyway, stay safe, and pray for our world to find a way to return to normality. Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Stay In Your Lane

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

I am not sure who came up with the saying, but it has become a well known and necessary tool to use in this world gone berserk. It is a concept we teach in school at very early ages because kids don’t understand boundaries (a lot like my dogs!). Apparently there are a lot of adults that never learned the concept either.

Sometimes when I get a kid being nosy about something going on with another child, I tell them: “You know what that is? It’s noneya.” That usually stops them to ask, “What is noneya?” I tell them, “It’s noneya business!” LOL. They usually laugh and get the point.

There was a magazine years ago called The National Inquirer. I am not sure it they are still around or not. The tag line of the magazine was, “Because inquiring minds want to know.” It was just a gossip magazine about celebrities and apparently sold pretty well. We all have that tendency to want to know what is going on in someone’s life…particularly if it is BAD! That is kind of sick when you think about it, but I guess it makes us feel somehow better about ourselves that we are not as jacked up as they are (at least in our own mind). LOL.

Several years ago a pastor friend of mine was going to lunch with some of his staff. As they were pulling into the restaurant parking lot, a guy cut him off and took his space. The pastor did what most of us would do when he got out of the car. He gave the guy a dirty look and said, “What is your problem?!!!” Well things went from bad to worse and heated words were exchanged. My pastor friend went over to the car with the guy still sitting inside…only to have the guy in his car pull a gun out and point it at my friend! I asked him what he did and he said he told the guy, “Buddy, if you pull that trigger, you better make sure to empty the gun on me!” Wow. All of this over a parking space! Luckily both guys calmed down and no life was lost, but that could have ended very badly!

Here is the problem with not staying in your lane: you risk having a fight, an accident, or even the loss of someone’s life! Sometimes people have the best intention of wanting to help, only to have that person blow up at them in return. It is one of those “wow” moments that we wonder, “ Where did that came from?!!!” Well, here is some insight into this thing we call humanity: everyone is jacked up! We ALL got issues! None of us really know what is going on in another person’s life or in their mind, and we can end up stepping on a landmine…sometimes very innocently.

What is the answer? I call it the Aretha Franklin solution: “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me!” We need to respect boundaries of other people. We all need our space. When you invade someone’s space, just know that there may be some very unexpected consequences.

I am not suggesting looking the other way or ignoring people who are breaking the law, abusing a person or an animal, or allowing them to do something that puts others in harm’s way. We have a moral obligation to stand in the gap when someone is being bullied, threatened, or abused…but we still have to respect the law and deal with it in a lawful manner. Even though I live in Texas…I believe we have to abide by the law.

The bottom line is, stay in your lane when possible. When you do venture into someone else’s lane…look before you do it and use your turn signal. This applies to traffic and to life itself. Let people know your intention (if it is to help). If it is not your business and you insist on proceeding, then expect a potential conflict and results that you may regret.

P.S. There are a lot of people who carry guns these days. I have no problem with that personally, but I think it makes me at least think twice about getting into someone else’s space…and maybe that is a good thing for everyone. If you assume everyone is carrying a gun, you might think twice about how you treat them. :o)

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Dare To Dream

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Journey of 1,000 Miles

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” The problem with the proverb is that many people don’t know which direction to go! That is why we have people graduating from college with degrees that have nothing to do with their gifts or their calling.

I had that dilemma myself when I first started college. I thought I would be interested in being a Dentist. The only problem was that I had no real love for science! LOL. I found out pretty quick that I had to change gears or I was going to be mismatched to my degree.

Business, as it turned out, was a great match for me. I took quickly to the business school courses and excelled (most of the time). I found out I was NOT gifted in accounting though! That was not my thing. My gifting seemed to be geared more towards marketing and sales.

I had been an entrepreneur since 7th grade. My dad made some business cards for me and a buddy of mine. We started a lawn care business and went to work. That was pretty good money for a kid, but not easy by any means.

When I got into high school, my brother sold me a sno cone business that he had run for a couple of years and done pretty well with. He sold me the route which included a 1948 Willis Jeep that already had a gazillion miles on it, but continued to run every day. Over the next two summers, I did pretty well. The second summer I made enough in 3 months to pay cash for a new car and put $500 in the bank for college. This was back in 1969 and 1970 when the dollar actually had some value. LOL.

I worked from sun up to sun down 5 to 6 days a week. It was a great business and I made a lot of money to help me get what I wanted…a new car! My dad instilled in me the ethic of hard work, being on time, and setting goals. My brother inspired me to compete and excel in my work. He and I have a great relationship…but we are both very competitive and both of us hate to lose.

My point in all of this is that if you are struggling with finding your path, look to how you are naturally gifted. Pray about it and ask God to direct your path. He will if you ask Him and follow Him. Seek counsel from people you truly admire. It is OK to try things along the way to test the waters and see if it is really something you could do for a living.

Later in life I was between jobs and interviewing for a job that would require me to sit at a desk all day and answer the phone. The lady took one look at my resume and did me a huge favor by being honest with me. She said, “You have been in outside sales all your life. This job would drive you nuts!” I was shocked at her brutal honesty, but I really appreciated her saving us both a lot of grief and frustration.

I had multiple careers over my lifetime, but all of my work has been interlocked with my gifting and my calling. In each job I was involved in not just sales and marketing, but also in training and development. I have utilized all of that experience even to this day as I teach kids in grade school.

Because I also have a gift for writing and motivation, I use that as well to help others and inspire people to find their path…beginning early in life. That is why I love teaching kids. They are like little sponges and just need to soak up the right stuff to help them make wise choices and find their way in this maze called life.

For each of us, this is one of the most important things we can do for our own happiness and sanity. Nobody wants to end up late in their career and realize that their pathway lead to a dead end, and yet it happens way to often. Find your calling then take your first step of 1,000 miles in the right direction. The journey is the blessing, not just the endpoint. Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

3 Keys to Learning

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

There are many keys to learning, but this is about three keys that you might not think of immediately when it comes to the learning process and how to unlock the door to learning.

The first key is imagination. I heard a parent talking about his discussion with his young son and he asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said, “A doctor or an astronaut.” The father was thinking how that would be good because the boy could at least feed HIM when he got older, but then the son added, “Or a dinosaur!” LOL. Now he went from being fed to being food! Be careful what you wish for.

Imagination is a wonderful thing that small kids in particular love to use. For some reason, as we get older, many of us lose this beautiful tool or just forget to use it. When I teach kids, I use imagination to take them places they would not normally go. That is why I tell kids I am Superman. :o) Being that I am pretty old and bald, I don’t exactly fit the description. What it does is get their wheels turning and thinking, “What if…?” I really throw them for a loop when I tell them I am married to Wonder Woman! LOL. Then I grin and give them two big thumbs up! LOL. To help sell the deal, I actually called my wife from home one day and she just played along. It was wonderful and hilarious at the same time.

The second key is laughter. A smile is a universal language, and laughter is the byproduct. I use humor regularly with kids to break the ice, help them refocus, and liven up an otherwise dull subject. Smiling and laughing is a great relief when used appropriately.

The third key is love. When you love what you do and love the kids you teach, it comes through in ways that are almost hypnotic. You add to that the imagination and laughter keys and you have some very powerful tools that satisfy the soul, but leave them wanting more…and THAT is a good thing! That is when a deeper level of learning truly unfolds. Imagine that!

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Respect

Posted in Business, General, Motivational, Relationships

Yesterday was the last day of school. One of the last tasks I was assigned was to help a couple of our employees put up new flags outside of our school. The old ones were pretty beat up and needed to be replaced. One of my teammates was telling me that he got detained for three hours one time when he was on a military base and failed to stop when the flag was being raised. I did not know there was such a rule, but I love the fact that our military sets an example for showing proper respect for our flag.

Right after he told us this story, we were in the process of changing out the flags (without letting them touch the ground). We noticed a person standing out by the highway at attention…with his hand over his heart as we raised the flags. It was a beautiful confirmation of what my friend had just shared with us. I would be willing to bet he was a veteran.

We live in a time where respect has been forgotten by some. Many don’t honor our flag and some have outright contempt for it. For those that don’t love our country, I wonder why they choose to live here. It can’t be for any honorable reason. I know there are many enemies we have who would like nothing less than to see us lose our freedom and succumb to their ideologies.

One thing I know about respect: it has to be earned. Recently I watched The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan. I was touched by his raw behind the scenes story and how he continually had to gain the respect of those who opposed him. Obviously it is somewhat different in sports with all the trash talking that goes on between competitors, but is it really all that different?

Think about the trash talking that goes on in politics. I hate election year because of all the mud that is slung between the candidates on both sides. It seems to be a battle of words and it does not matter if there is any truth to the accusation or not. I realize that politics and religion are two topics which draw the most heated debates, so I try not to grandstand on those subjects because of the potential dog-piling that often ensues online. It does not mean I don’t have strong opinions about both, because I do. I just choose my battles wisely.

Why do people take the liberty to bash other people’s opinions just because they are different from theirs? I don’t mind healthy debates, but I detest bashing and bullying. If you think about it, it is reverting to a very childish behavior.

One thing I picked up from Michael Jordan that I really appreciated about his mindset was that he used the negativity of others to fuel his desire to win. And win he did. He had numerous failures and setbacks along the way, but look at what he accomplished! Wow. He was not perfect by any means. None of us are.

My advice is pretty simple: allow people to have their own opinions. If you choose to debate a point, do so with respect. If not, you may be fueling a fire that could consume you. I have the image of Michael Jordan walking off the court after one of those memorable comeback moments with the song in the background echoing: “How you like me now?” Be willing to earn the respect you desire and understand that it comes at a cost. Respect and freedom have this in common: neither one is free.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

TGIF

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Do you appreciate the freedom you have? With the recent onset of the world-wide pandemic, you may feel like you have lost your freedom…and to a degree, you have.

However, freedom is something we can have regardless of the restrictions placed upon us by the government. How is that possible?

There is freedom found in Christ. I think of the story in the Bible in Philippians chapter 1 where Paul was being held in prison. He said that what had happened to him was to advance the gospel. He claimed that he was in chains for Christ! His imprisonment gave his fellow Christian brothers and sisters confidence to share the gospel. Talk about a different perspective!

In the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas were both in jail. They were anything but despondent. They were singing praise songs to God. In the middle of their praise there was a violent earthquake. All of the jail doors came open and everyone’s chains came off. The jailer woke up and when he realized all the doors in the jail were open, he assumed that the prisoners had escaped. He started to take his own life but before he could, Paul called out to him to let him know that all the prisoners were still there! The jailer had a come to Jesus moment right then and there! His simple question to Paul was, “What must I do to be saved?” How cool is that? The jailer came to realize that HE was the one being held captive, and true freedom is found in Christ.

We all have to face our fears, and we have to adapt to the “new normal,” whatever that might look like. The question is, are you free or are you a prisoner of your fears? Don’t let the storms of life hold you down. You have a choice to make: freedom or fear. Choose wisely.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

We seem to live in an era of excuses. I am not sure what happened to people just taking responsibility for their short-comings, but it appears to have all but vanished from our culture. Now it is your fault, not mine regardless of the facts. Now we blame the President, the Congress, our government, our spouse, our co-worker, our boss, our neighbor, etc. We have a tendency to blame anyone but ourselves. Some people have become masters at deflecting.

Admittedly, sometimes it IS someone else that is at fault. That is not the point here. The blame should go to the one responsible. My point is that when someone calls us out for messing up, we tend to make excuses. The problem with that mentality is that it is very immature. It is like we have a 5 year old kid living inside us that starts blaming everyone else when we are standing there with our hand in the cookie jar.

I have been guilty of this myself from time to time, but I am working on taking responsibility for my actions and being truthful with myself. By the way, the worst person you can lie to is yourself! I am encouraging you and those who might be around you to just grow up. Be mature in accepting responsibility for what you say and do, and quit blaming someone else for your failures. Excuses are a dime a dozen. We need to get our “buts” out of the way. Wouldn’t this make life easier on everyone? If you mess up, just fess up. Apologize where necessary and move on. That is what adults are supposed to do, right?

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes