Baptized In Fire

Posted in Business, Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes and experience true terror? That happened to me yesterday. I got a text from the Assistant Principal telling me I needed to go cover a class. This was not just any class. It was a Kindergarten class!

I felt this nauseous sensation come over me as I started my way towards the abyss known as the Kindergarten hallway. I knew that I was walking towards the edge of sanity and I might not come back. It was like the scene in The Green Mile with somebody calling out “Dead Man Walking.”

I had to relieve Ms. Kaba while she went to meet with a parent about her child’s behavior. As I saw Ms. Kaba leave the room, I realized for the first time how Daniel must have felt being thrown into the lions’ den. All these little aliens were looking at me like they were ready to pounce.

They were happily munching on their snacks (which most of them were wearing all over their face, hands, and clothes). Almost on cue about ten of them surrounded me and started asking me questions. All I remember was saying “Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no.” I am not even sure what I said yes or no to. I prayed quickly, “Lord, please don’t let them touch me.” I really did not know what to do, so I went across the hallway to the lead teacher and told her I needed help and I needed it NOW.

She was amazing. She came in, surveyed the room, and then announced that she was setting the timer for 2 minutes to finish eating. She would be back in two minutes and anyone not finished would have to clip down (apparently that is like a death threat to a Kindergarten kid because they took it very seriously). She came back in 2 minutes and reset the timer for a minute and a half and announced that they had to have EVERYTHING cleaned up and put away in a minute and a half or they would clip down.

The kids started moving so fast it was like watching a film that had been sped up. I had to tell some of them to slow down to keep them from hurting themselves or someone else. Sure enough, in a minute and a half she came back in and surveyed the room. All the mess was cleaned up in a minute and a half! Wow. I just stood there with my jaw open at what I had just witnessed.

Then she proceeded to put the class into “stations.” She set up 4 different stations and gave them specific instructions for each station. She then set the timer again and told them when the timer was up, they would rotate to the next station. This was like watching a great master conduct the most beautiful masterpiece in the world. The kids just fell into line and did what they were told.

About that time, Ms. Kaba returned from her parent meeting. I had this weird sensation like I was waking up from a bad dream. I thanked her for what she and her co-workers do every day. Kindergarten kids are so needy! That is not a good thing for me because I am very needy too!

I think that Kindergarten Teachers are up there next to Jesus. They have the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of Samson, and the love of Jesus all wrapped in a smile. I know that I am Superman, but Superman met his Kryptonite in the form of a Kindergarten class. I now have a profound respect and love for anyone who teaches Kindergarten kids. You guys rock!

P.S. Ms. Kaba has 2 young kids at home and is expecting her third. She teaches Kindergarten kids all day then goes home to deal with her own kids. How crazy is that? Crazy good!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

It Is Never Just About You

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

When do we come to the point where we realize that the world does not revolve around us? I think all of us have known people who live like the world starts and stops on their command. This is cute in a toddler, amusing in a child, irritating in a teen, and ridiculous in an adult.

The earlier we come to the realization that the world is bigger than just us, the better it is for everyone. I work with kids on a daily basis to get them to practice simple things like saying please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Learning to share is a big step for kids in getting this concept down. When they learn to truly put others first, it is a huge step in growing up.

There is an unwritten rule with kids: no cutting in line. When someone cuts in line, it seems that everyone goes into a panic mode. You would think that the world was coming to an end because someone got in line ahead of them. I am not saying it is right for someone to cut in line, but in the scheme of things…is it really worth getting upset about?

I constantly am looking for the balance in keeping the peace with kids. They want a sense of fairness, and I get that. However, it gets to be ridiculous the amount of tattling that goes on. The other day I had a kid tattle on a kid for cutting in line in the cafeteria. I asked him to point out the perpetrator. When he boldly pointed him out, I escorted the guilty boy to the FRONT of the line. When I got back to the tattletale, I said, “I don’t like tattling.” LOL. The look on his face was priceless. He stood there with his jaw open and that look of, “What just happened”???

I have sent many kids to the back of the line for cutting in, and sometimes it is amidst a flood of tears. Kids immediately try to justify why they should be able to cut into line. The reality is, it does not matter where they are in line, but reality does not matter when it comes to fairness. The problem is, life is not fair.

We are always going to be put in situations throughout our lives that are unfair. It may be someone cutting in front of us, not getting credit for our efforts, being overlooked for a raise or promotion, or just being taken for granted by someone. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to pout like a kindergarten kid? Are you going to throw a tantrum when you don’t get your way? Are you going to tattle and point the finger at others for your dilemma?

Hopefully you realize that we have to grow up and accept responsibility at some point. What is cute in a toddler is repulsive behavior in an adult. You can stand up for yourself for what is right, but weigh the potential outcome. Just ask yourself, “Is this really important in the scheme of life?” Adults have a way of justifying bad behavior by saying, “It is the principle of the thing that bothered me.” When someone gets stuck on their principles, chances are they have shut down all rational thought and communication. You don’t want to be “that guy.” That attitude is a recipe for disaster. If it is truly important, speak your mind but do it in love; then, be willing to listen. It is not just about you or me.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Victory

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a Civil War hero for the North. He was an unassuming man who taught at the university before he joined the Northern war efforts. The thing that fascinates me about his story is that this quiet man became the focal point for bringing the war to an end.

Colonel Chamberlain had been given the task of protecting Little Round Top. This was the North’s most vulnerable point and was to be protected “at all costs.” When the South advanced on the mountain, the North began a furious fight with cannons and rifles.

Eventually as the fight ensued, the ammo for the North became scarce and a decision had to be made. Should they retreat or should they hold the position as ordered? Chamberlain made a decision not to just hold their position, but to fix bayonets and charge the enemy! The sound of a regiment of men fixing bayonets and charging down the hill put the South in a state of panic and confusion.

The North ended up winning the battle because of this bold move by Colonel Chamberlain. That battle turned the tide in the war from which the South never fully recovered. It was indeed the turning point in the war…and was accomplished by a man who understood that perseverance and a little luck can be the things that literally change history for everyone.

As a side note, Chamberlain survived being killed by two Confederate soldiers. One had him in his sights and did not pull the trigger because he did not want to be the one to kill the brave Colonel. The other Confederate soldier tried to shoot him but his pistol misfired and the bullet just missed Chamberlain’s face.

At several points during the battle the South could have won and yet it was the North who endured to the end. It was Chamberlain and his brave soldiers who faced their fears and helped win the war for the North (with the assistance from the 2nd Maine Infantry, Andrew J. Tozier, Company B and Holman Melcher).

Victory in this case was not so much sweet as it was a relief for a nation that was torn in two.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

No Fault Society

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Have you ever noticed that people, generally speaking, don’t want to take responsibility for their actions? I firmly believe that “no fault” insurance was created by a kid. When a kid gets caught red-handed, they begin the blame game.

Recently I was covering a class for one of my teachers. You know what kids do when they get a substitute, right? They ask for permission to do things they are not supposed to do. This particular day I was passing out an assignment and one of the little girls asked if they could use colored pencils on it. Since I have been down similar paths before, I asked, “Does your teacher permit you to use them on these assignments?” She and a friend of hers assured me they could, so I had her pass them out.

Several other kids spoke up in protest when they saw the colored pencils being handed out. The argued that they were not supposed to use them. I told the kids, “Just go ahead and use them. The teacher will sort it out when she gets back.”

Fast forward: The teacher came back to the room. She immediately sees the colored pencils and questioned why they were being used. Obviously the teacher did not give them permission to do this. I looked at the class with a sad face (LOL) and said, “I can’t believe you would ask me to do something that you know the teacher has said no to. That made me look bad to the teacher. Why would you do that?”

Crickets.  LOL. The teacher apologized for the class and I left to do my other duties. A few minutes later one of the little girls who asked to use the pencils was handing me a note to apologize for lying to me. It was really a sweet moment. She is a good kid who just literally wanted to color outside the lines. I let her know all was well between us and I appreciated the note.

That note will go in my collection of notes and pictures that kids have done for me. I think this one is special because she learned a valuable lesson from it. With kids like this in our future I think there is hope for future generations.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Invest In Children

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Children are one of the most precious assets we have on the earth. The thing that constantly amazes me is how some people just don’t get kids. They are evolving little people who can help you, encourage you, and teach you. They are our future generations.

Today I had a lady say how amazed she was that I did cafeteria duty every day. She said, “I don’t know how you do it.” LOL. To be honest, cafeteria duty in school is not exactly preferred duty. Nobody is standing in line waiting for their opportunity to serve there.

I told her that I did not look at it that way. I love kids. I love helping them and serving them. It is a mindset that most people cannot grasp. Teachers get it. They understand that what they are doing has lifelong implications for the kids, for parents, and for society.

If I could wave a magic wand and have parents do just one thing, it would be for them to invest in their kids. I see kids every day that have “attitude.” I know this is part of growing up, but some of these kids are older and should at least know the basics of respecting others.

Today I had a young man that was totally oblivious to respecting others or even himself. When I asked him why he was breaking the rules, any guesses as to what he said? “Everyone else is doing it. Why are you picking on me?” Wow. I pointed out to him that he was responsible for the choices he made. I asked him why he continued to make decisions that got him in trouble for breaking the rules…and he just shrugged. No remorse, just attitude. Very sad…but if he does not change, he will find out the hard way that life is not going to greet him and his disrespect with open arms.

If you are a parent, please invest in your kids. Kids spell love “TIME.” When you invest time in a child, they know you care. They know they are important. They know that you have their back. The at risk kids are usually the ones that are on their own. Pray for them…and for the teachers who are trying desperately to help them find their way.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Dreams Come True

Posted in Business, Motivational

(Lessons from Nick Foles)

Before the Superbowl, you may not have known who Nick Foles was…especially if you don’t follow football. He is an amazing example of someone who went on a roller coaster ride for a career, and then fate literally handed him the ball.

Sometimes life comes full circle. He first played for Philly back in 2012 and started when Michael Vick got injured. He was eventually cut and went to play for the Rams and the Chiefs. Finally, as his road to destiny unfolded, he returned to Philly as the backup quarterback for Carson Wentz. Wentz got injured during the 2017 season and Nick’s number got called again.

When Nick started with Philly this time, there was a sense of destiny about him. I watched him play the final games to the playoffs and knew that Philly was going to be a contender. He was not just a QB. He was a leader. He went on to lead Philly to their first Superbowl and beat one of the greatest QBs on the planet…Tom Brady. Tom already had 5 Superbowl rings and this game was going to be just another ring on his finger. That is…until he met Nick Foles and the Eagles.

The coaching was brilliant. The calls were executed with flare, and the team moved up and down the field like a well-oiled machine. It was a thing of beauty to watch. None of the odds-makers gave Philly a chance. Most said it would not be a contest and had as much as a 7 point spread. The odds-makers underestimated Nick Foles and what he brought to the game.

Lessons from Nick:

  • Do what you love and do it with passion.
  • Don’t give up on your dreams despite the setbacks you have had.
  • Listen to people who believe in you. Ignore the nay-sayers.
  • Even if your role is to warm the bench, always be prepared to get in the game.
  • Don’t let the size of the giant facing you fill you with fear.
  • When you believe in yourself, others are more likely to follow you.
  • When you do get your chance, give it all you’ve got.

Congrats to Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. I am a die-hard Cowboy fan, but I now have a great respect for a team that has always been one of our greatest rivals. Great game! Thanks for making this one of the greatest victories in Superbowl history.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Lights Out

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” Mike Tyson

In boxing, the most dangerous punch is the one you don’t see coming. The same is true in life. Punches come at us from places we never expect: The Doctor’s report telling us we have something terminal, the spouse telling you that they don’t love you anymore, the company you thought you had a career with says they are downsizing and you are being let go. The list is endless.

There are two questions that come to mind:

  • How do you prepare for the unexpected punches of life?
  • How are you going to respond?

Preparing for things that you never see coming is pretty difficult because none of us can see into the future and know for sure what is going to happen. Of course, we can do common sense things like save money for emergencies, live below our means, take care of our health, and nurture our relationships. Those simple things may be the very things that help us weather the storms that are coming.

How we respond to life’s difficulties is crucial.

  • Don’t quit.
  • Learn the lesson.
  • Fall seven times, stand up eight.

Nobody likes tough times, and yet it is those times that reveal our true character. How we respond when we get punched in the face matters. We can let it defeat us, or we can let it catapult us to another level. It can demoralize us, or it can make us more resolute that we will win next time.

Don’t let the trials and tribulations you are facing suck the joy out of your life. They will if you let them. Understand that this is a season and it will pass. Even if the season is a lifetime, it can be more than just endured if you learn to thrive, not just survive.  You thrive when you put your heart totally into it. You face your fears. You prepare for the battle. You take one step forward at a time. It may just be a baby step…but if you move forward in life, that in itself is a victory.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

In Courage

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

When we encourage someone they go out “in courage.” Pretty cool thought. Recently I had the opportunity to encourage a 3rd grade girl. She was in tears during lunch. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me a boy had called her fat. I looked at her and said, “What he said does not matter. You are a beautiful girl. In fact, what everyone else thinks or says about you does not matter either. What matters is what YOU think and say about yourself.” I pointed to my heart and said, “This is what matters.”

For many weeks after the incident this little girl would pop up around me when I was making my rounds. She would just stand there quietly smiling up at me. I let her talk to me and gave her my full attention despite the busy activities going on about me. I truly believe that these small moments will help her form a positive self-identity, Everyone wants to be loved for who they are. Now I have a BFF. :o)

There was a story in the Bible about a great warrior named Gideon. The funny thing about the story is that when God called him to battle, he was hiding in a cave and threshing wheat in a winepress! Not exactly the picture of a great warrior! But you know what the Angel of the Lord said? He did not make fun of him, call him a wimp, or anything derogatory. He called him “A mighty man of valor.” I think Gideon needed to be reminded that he WAS a mighty man of valor despite the circumstances. Gideon went on to defeat the enemy with just a handful of men…and the help of God, of course.

We have the opportunity to send people out in courage every day. Take the opportunities when you see them The results are remarkable because they can last a lifetime.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Who Are You?

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

That title may remind you of the lyrics from the theme song of the rock group The Who. It drives home the gnawing question we all have to unlock for ourselves. Who are we, and what are we supposed to do with our lives?

I was at a men’s conference where we were challenged on a multitude of levels to think differently, and it begins with knowing who we are. I was talking to a man that I met there and he admitted to me that he was unhappy doing what he was doing for a living. When I asked him what he REALLY wanted to do, he had some difficulty defining it. I realize it is easier said than done, but I told him that he had to figure out what he was really passionate about and do that. I could see the wheels turning in his head as he was processing it and trying to figure it out.

We all go through periods where we wonder who we are, what we should be doing, and how we should do it. Some people figure it out early in life and others never figure it out. Here are some noteworthy quotes from a couple of the speakers we heard at the seminar.

  • “We all want to kill giants as long as they look like dwarves. We think if God wants something for us He will bring it to us rather than through us. We have to go through great battles to achieve greatness.”
  • “Going through pain is part of the process.”
  • “Stop running from your future, lean into it.”
  • “Don’t aspire to be just great. Aspire to serve all. Fame is what you do for yourself. Greatness is what you do for others.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what anyone else does. I need to be the greatest version of me the world has seen.” Erwin McManus

 

  • “God did not give us a spirit of fear, yet half of us are afraid of losing our jobs. The other half are afraid they will keep them.”
  • “When a puppy messes in the house, you don’t love it any less. God does not love us any less when we mess up. We all make mistakes.”
  • “We don’t need people to hold us accountable and judge us. We need people to embrace us and encourage us. Don’t run away from people who mess up. Run TO them. Embrace them.”
  • “Do you know what you want to do? Activity does not equal productivity. Do the things that last. Challenge the boundaries.”
  • “It is easy to get a couple of degrees off course on your journey. That small mistake can make you miss your destination totally. Know where your true North is, and stay focused. Life is full of distractions.”
  • “Life is like flying a helicopter. You have to make a thousand movements the size of a quarter to stay on course.”
  • “Live your life so that you live life constantly and intentionally surprised, not fearful.” Bob Goff

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

RAK

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

If you want to rock your world, RAK it. That simply stands for doing Random Acts of Kindness. We have a motto at our school, “Others before self.” How can you practice that on a daily basis? RAK.

The rules to do a RAK are simple:

  • It should be done anonymously if possible. If you do it to be thanked or recognized, you have done it for the wrong reason. You miss not just the point, but the blessing. Remember that the greatest gifts in life are those that can never be repaid.
  • Cost is not important. Everyone can afford to do a RAK. Of course, if you are blessed financially, then you should RAK accordingly. Just keep it anonymous.

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Next time you go through a drive-through at a fast food place, pay for your meal and the car behind you. Just tell the person at the window to tell the person behind you, “God just wanted to say that He loves you.” :o) We all need to be reminded of that from time to time, don’t we? I know I am not God, but I can be a representative of His hands and voice.
  • If you see a single Mom and her kid having lunch or dinner, pick of the tab for them.
  • If you see a homeless person, buy them a lunch and have it delivered to them. With Uber, you can do this easily.
  • If you see someone broken down on the side of the road, see if you can help. I realize that if you are a lady you have be cautious about doing this, but you could pull over and let them know you are calling someone to help them at the very least.
  • Next time you have a meal, leave a tip that is the size of your check. Having been a waiter early in my career, I can testify that waiters and waitresses have tough jobs. They work long hours for very little reward. I am not talking about the ones in the high end restaurants. I mean the ones that work at IHOP, for instance.
  • “Adopt” a person who is incarcerated. You may not be able to do that anonymously, but you can do it without expecting anything from them. A letter written to them on a weekly basis is like gold to them.
  • Be a “Secret Santa” for an orphan. Find out what they want for Christmas or their birthday and send it to them. You can do this anonymously through services like Amazon.

I do think we need to do RAKs everyday with those we love. Here again, you may not be able to be anonymous, but you can do it without expecting anything in return. The ones closest to us are sometimes the ones we tend to take for granted. Let them know how much you love them or appreciate them. A love note stuck in a lunchbox or put in their luggage lets them know they are not forgotten. Leave a love note on the bathroom mirror. It will make their day. You can change your world…and theirs.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes