Jackson

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships

Jackson - dan skognes insurance finance motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

Jackson was a rescue dog.  He was to be put down within a day of him being rescued.  He was not a puppy. He was a large dog, and a mixed breed on top of that; so the odds were not in his favor that anyone would take him.

Fortunately for Jackson, my Grandson listened to his Aunt (who has worked with a lot of animals), and took Jackson home.  He is probably the best dog I have been around.  I have two dogs of my own, Laila, a boxer, and Molly, a Lhasa-poo.  They are sweet and I love them a lot…but Jackson is special.

He is not even my dog, but I feel in a way that he is.  When I first met Jackson, he just took to me.  He loved me for no special reason.   I can’t explain it, but he just wants to be around me.  He likes sitting next to me and loves it when I give him attention.  He is very needy that way…LOL…but I admit it.  I love him.  He follows me everywhere I go.

Our daughter and son-in-law take good care of Jackson, but even they are a little shocked at how much Jackson loves me.  When we are dog sitting and he is spending a few days with us, they sometimes have to encourage him to leave!  He look at me as if to say, “Is it ok for me to go with them?”  LOL.  That does NOT go over especially well with them, by the way.

Jackson has a unique trait.  EVERYONE loves him.  He has a disposition that is magnetic.  He makes people smile, and they love his eyes.  They are multi-colored.  We are not sure what breed he is, but probably part Greyhound and part Catahoula.

Jackson is one of those dogs that looks like he is smiling.  He has a happy face.  He loves to play, to ride in the car and go anywhere.  He loves to go for walks…and especially to go to the dog park.  He just likes being around people and their dogs. He loves taking naps, and loves playing with the toys.  He especially likes getting the squeaker out of the toys. That almost sounds like a profile for a dating site.  He loves long walks on the beach and romantic times by the fireplace, too.  LOL.

He is very smart, and knows how to figure things out. If you hide a toy in something, he will work on it until he gets it.  He does not get upset or discouraged. He just finds a way to get what he wants.

A few things Jackson has modeled for me:

  • Love everyone.  He never meets a stranger.
  • Love people just because.  He only wants to love and be loved.
  • Enjoy the day.  The simple things we do matter.  Take joy in the simple things.
  • Smile a lot.  It makes other people smile when you are happy. They want what you have. Wag your tail (only if you are a dog…LOL).
  • The one dog you may be overlooking at the pound just may turn out to be the best dog in the world for you.  It does not matter what breed, how old they are, or how large they are.  Look into their eyes…and into their heart.  You will know when you see it.
  • Jackson did not know he was one day away from meeting his Maker.  We don’t know when our time is going to come either.  Live each day like it is your last.
  • Pursue what you really want, and don’t give up!

I fondly refer to Jackson as “My Son.”  He is not mine, but he sure has made his impression on my heart.  So, in a way, he IS mine. He is a good boy!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Signs You Are Getting Old

Posted in General, Relationships

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There is nothing good about getting old.  Seriously.  I don’t like it.  It dawned on me when I went back to my college homecoming that I was part of the club.  When I was in school I remember seeing all the “old people” come to homecoming.  The funny thing is, when I went back to homecoming not long ago, I still saw all the “old people.”  Somehow I had missed looking in the mirror.  

I started thinking about some of the things old people have in common:

  • They begin sentences with, “I remember when we didn’t have a ______________.”
  • Their backs go out more than they do.
  • Their teeth are like the stars, they come out every night.
  • Hair grows in all the wrong places.
  • Hair is missing from all the right places.
  • They look forward to watching Wheel of Fortune every night.
  • They get excited about Sr. Citizen Discounts.
  • The schedule that used to be filled with work is now filled with activities with the grandkids and being a baby sitter or chauffeur.
  • They have discovered that the naps they dreaded as children are now their friend.
  • They have a hard time watching an entire movie without dozing off.
  • They are less fashion conscious and tend to have their “favorite” outfits that usually have holes in them or paint on them.
  • They have a morbid curiosity to see who is in the obituary each day.
  • Their memory is fading on what they did today, but they can tell you what they did 30 years ago in great detail.
  • They shrink.
  • They long for “The good old days.”
  • They will just blurt out what is on their mind without any forethought and people just forgive them because they are “old.”
  • They break wind when they feel like it.
  • They tell you the same story for the hundredth time.
  • They see people that are in their 50’s as young.

There are just way too many things on this list that I can identify with, and I don’t like it one bit.  Now if I could just remember when I left my glasses. 

Here is to all of my Senior friends.  May your days be as long as your memory allows. May they be filled with laughter, peace, and of course…..Wheel…………….Of…………..Fortune.  How old is Vanna White anyway???  She is like the female Dick Clark.  She does not seem to age. I want a job like hers.  I know I could touch the letters that are called just as good as she does.  Just sayin.’

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

When Less Is More

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

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“Here lies Lester Moore.  Four slugs from a 44.  No Les no more.”  Funny tombstone, and the funny thing is, it is REAL.  But what I really want to talk about is when less is more, and why that can be a good thing.

The top 10 things where less is more, more or less:

No. 1.  Less talking and more hearing.  That would solve half of our problems in life.

No. 2.  Less fighting and more loving.  That would solve almost everything else.

No. 3.  Less taking and more giving.  That would wipe out world hunger and homelessness.

No. 4.  Less sleeping and more working.  That would solve the unemployment problem.

No. 5.  Less self and more of others.  That would eliminate the attitude that the world revolves around me and solve most of the wars that are being fought.

No. 6.  Less sitting and more walking.  That would help eliminate the heart attack problem we have in America.

No. 7.  Less super-sizing and more salads.  That would wipe out obesity for the most part.

No. 8.  Less blaming and more taking responsibility.  That would keep more families together.

No. 9.  Less working for money and more working for your passion. That would ignite the flames of creativity and production would soar. People would actually find their purpose in life, doing what God created them to do.  How cool would THAT be?

No.10. Less of me and more of God.  That probably should have been the first thing.  If I get that priority straight, the other 9 will follow.

I hope that less is more in your life…..more or less. LOL

Our lives are stressful enough without adding to it guilt, shame, unforgiveness, anger, hatred, and bigotry.  Less of all that, and more of Shalom!  That’s what I’m talking about!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Hurt People Hurt People

Posted in General, Relationships, Spiritual

Hurt People dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

Have you noticed this?  People that have been hurt are the very ones who turn around and hurt others.  That is a pretty sick cycle that we can all find ourselves in…perpetuating hurt.

How do we break the hurt cycle?  How do we not inflict pain and suffering on others?  It begins with dealing with our own pain and suffering.  It means we have to learn to forgive.

You may be thinking, no way am I going to forgive them for what they did to me.  I will never forget what they have done, and they are going to PAY for it.  That is dangerous ground to be treading upon. It is actually a very slippery slope, and you will slide down to a level that even you yourself find disgusting.  You may even cross the line of breaking the law and injuring someone….or to the extreme, taking someone’s life.

Principle 1.  Forgiveness is a process. The deeper the hurt, the longer the process.  You may have to forgive someone a hundred times a day because every time you think about them, you get angry.  Let go of the anger and make a conscious decision to forgive.

Principle 2.  Forgiveness is cleansing.  It clears your heart and your mind to actually make rational decisions.  If you have a problem making sound decisions, check your heart and see if you hold unforgiveness in your heart towards someone.  That could be the very thing that is clouding your judgment.

Principle 3.  Forgiveness breaks the hurt cycle.  It allows you to extend grace and mercy to those who have wronged you.  It allows you to act…instead of react.  It helps you have self-control.

Hurt people are all around us.  They are cutting you off in traffic, flipping you “the bird.”  They are yelling, screaming, conniving, scheming, stressing, and making their lives a mess.  They are lashing out at people around them and making sure that THEY feel the pain.  Is that how YOU want to live?  I hope not.

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we break the hurt cycle.  Don’t you want to live in peace?  You can, but you have to make the effort.  The old saying is, “No pain, no gain.”  I say, “No pain IS gain!”

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Over the Hill

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships

Over the Hill dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

“Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Jack Weinberg.

“There are people over 30 I trust. I’m over 30, and I trust me.”  Eldridge Cleaver

“Every man over forty is a scoundrel.”  George Bernard Shaw

There seems to be a recurring theme of trust, or at least lack of trust with the older generation, and it goes back in time.  Why is that?  What has the older generation done to deserve the black eye?  I have no idea, but maybe we can figure it out together.

What I really want to talk about is how we as an American culture have seen fit to put older people out to pasture.  Other cultures around the world actually reverence older people.  They honor them and care for them, knowing that they have wisdom to impart.  They have been down the roads that the younger generation is contemplating. 

Maybe it IS a trust factor.  Maybe that old saying of “Don’t trust anyone over 30” is still alive and well.  With the aging baby boomers, it would have to be scaled up to anyone over 40 or 50. 

I can’t fix this by myself people, but I think it is worth addressing, even if we do it one relationship at a time.

If you are under 40, I am asking you to do something out of your comfort zone.  Show respect to your elders.  You want to be respected, right?  Show respect.  Honor the people you know that are older.  Use them as a source of counsel.  Take advantage of their wisdom and knowledge…just don’t take advantage of them.  Let them mentor you, encourage you, warn you.  Older people may just keep you from making some serious mistakes that could ruin your life.  Don’t let your pride and ego get in the way.  We can learn something from everyone, regardless of age.  If you really want to learn something, talk to someone in their 70s and 80s.  They are awesome sources of information, and just plain fascinating to listen to because of all they have experienced.

If you are over 50, I am asking you to do something out of your comfort zone.  Reach out to the younger generation and mentor someone.  There is a difference in giving advice and mentoring.  Learn the difference.  The younger generation is filled with people that are eager to learn and just want someone to SHOW them the way. If you are going to take that step and mentor someone, PLEASE don’t muddy the waters by compromising your morals or basic human values.  What I mean by that is that the younger generation is not going to respect you if they see you doing things illegal, immoral, or just plain stupid.  Don’t do things or encourage them to do things that you know are wrong.  That will break trust and be hard to repair.  Show respect for the younger generation.  Respect goes two ways.  Never forget that.

So, how is your trust factor now?  Hopefully I have given you food for thought, but I really hope I have motivated you to action.  Let’s restore the trust between the generations.  It will take both sides working at it.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be put out to pasture.  I know I still have a lot to contribute to this world, but I need the younger generation.  They are our legacy.  Let’s agree to make our legacy something that is healthy, vibrant, and growing.  The future generations depend on that, so let’s do our part, one relationship at a time.  Deal? 

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Time Machine

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships

The Time Machine dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

Did you ever read the book, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells? Perhaps you saw the movie too.  What a great story.  Imagine getting into a machine and traveling through time.

Two questions come to mind:

Question 1.  If you could go back in time, what would you change?

Question 2.  If you could go forward in time, what would you do?

The first question might be a little easier to grasp because we have been there.  I don’t know about you, but there are some definite points in time that I would want to change.  The only problem is, I made so many bone-head decisions in my life, I am not sure quite where to begin, but there are a couple that were life changing decisions…and not in a positive way.  I would probably start there.

I think we all have points in our past that we could pinpoint that we would fix if we could.  But what about the future?  What would you do?  That is such an unknown because we haven’t had the opportunity to have been down that road before.  So, it is totally speculation at this point.

Lesson 1.  We can’t go back in time and fix anything, as much as we would like to, so let go of the past.  If you are constantly living in the past with regrets and unforgiveness, let it go. You will never move forward with your eyes in the rearview mirror.

Lesson 2.  We can’t go into the future, so quit worrying about it.  That does no good.  All you have is today.  Live it and just concentrate on today.  You can make plans for the future and the activities of today will determine the outcome of tomorrow to a great extent, but there are always detours that will come that we cannot foresee.  Don’t worry about what may or may not happen. Worry does no good and will steal the joy you have today.

Lesson 3.  We do have a time machine.  It is called Today. We all travel in it together.  Some of us use it wisely and steward it to get the most out of it, and then some of us miss it all together because we are stuck in the past or stuck worrying about the future. We all have 24 hours in a day.  No more, no less.

How are you using your time machine?  This is probably one of the most precious gifts we have been entrusted with.  Don’t waste today.  The older you get, the more you realize how fast time really goes.  In a blink of an eye, we are here and gone.  This is but a fraction of a second in eternity.  Make today matter.  Make your time worthwhile. Make a difference with your life.  It will be gone before you know it.  We do not know what tomorrow brings or if we will even have tomorrow.

My hope is that you learn to really live in today.  There is great freedom, peace, contentment, and joy in fully living in the moment.  That is called Shalom!  May you find and fully experience Shalom today.

Dan Skognes

Elevate Your Thinking

Posted in General, Motivational, Spiritual

Elevate Your Thinking dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get on the elevator in your mind, push a button, and take it to the top?  Well, who says it can’t be done?  Our minds are incredible organs that we only use a small percentage of, so let’s begin by thinking differently, OK?

If you are stuck on the lobby level, or worse, in the basement, what do you do?  If you have ever been on a stuck elevator, there are only a few options open to you:

First Option:  You wait for somebody to realize the elevator is stuck and they come to help you. If the elevator in your mind is stuck, do you REALLY want to wait on someone to notice you need help? What if they don’t notice you are stuck?  Not good.

Second Option: You can make an emergency call on the elevator phone or push the emergency button if it has one. Not a bad option and certainly better than option one.  But what if the phone does not work, or the emergency button is out of order?  Being stuck in your mind unfortunately does not give us the option of pushing an emergency button or using an emergency phone, since there is no such thing. If you had an emergency button in your mind, pushing it would be called a Panic Attack. Not a good thing.

Third Option: Get out of the elevator by prying open the doors.  Assuming you are not between floors, this may work for you. But what if the doors were stuck shut or the elevator IS between floors. Opening closed doors in your mind could require the jaws of life and have to be applied by a specialist. That could be a very lengthy and painful process and really mess up your mind.  Think “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Fourth Option: Climb out the top of the elevator.  Shimmy up the cables and pry open the doors above you.  If you are Jackie Chan, no problem.  If you are the average overweight out of shape American…big problem.  Besides, climbing out of the top of your mind means you are OUT OF YOUR MIND.  Not a good thing.

Fifth Option:  Use your cell phone and call for help.  Only problem here is trying to get a signal on an elevator is iffy at best.  If your cell phone did work, problem solved.  Let’s assume your mind is in a place where the signal does not work or your battery just died on you.  NOW WHAT?

So………….any other options you can think of?

Sixth Option:  Two more things come to mind.  First, you could pray, and then secondly, you can cry out for help.  Those may appear to be last resorts, but perhaps they should have been the first thing we tried.  If the elevator of our mind is stuck, ask God to help you.  After all, he made your elevator and knows exactly what you need to get it moving.  Secondly, if you acknowledge you need help, you are more likely to get it. Crying out for help is normal.  Just admit you are stuck and ask for help!

I have a feeling when you do the sixth option first, you will get to the top a lot sooner, and be a lot less stressed.  Thanks for allowing me to push your buttons.  See you at the top…sooner than later, I pray.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Posted in General, Relationships, Spiritual

Give Thanks

Is it just me, or have you noticed a general lack of gratitude in people?  What is up with that?  It seems that people are taking for granted even the basic freedoms that we have in this country.  Those are not rights…they are privileges that have been paid for with blood.

Gratitude goes a long way with me, so I try to practice what I preach.  Here are just a few things I am thankful for:

Number 1.  I love God and am so thankful that He does not give me what I deserve.  What I deserve is judgment, but what He gives me is grace.  That is AMAZING to me and I am eternally grateful to God for that.

Number 2.  We live in a great country and have so much to be thankful for. If you ever have the chance to travel internationally, it will drive that point home to you.  Don’t take for granted what we have.  Freedom isn’t free. It was bought and paid for with many lives.

Number 3.  I have a great wife.  She is a perfect help-mate and soul-mate.  I am so thankful that God brought her into my life.  I just wish it had been about 45 years ago.  THAT would have saved me a lot of headaches.  LOL

Number 4.  I am thankful for the ability to work.  I love to work, to create, to give, and to serve others.  Work is a form of worship.  It is not just an activity.  It is a purpose that we fulfill.

Number 5.  I am thankful for life.  What an incredible gift we have been given.  Because I am truly grateful, I want to have a life of significance.  I want to be a giver, not a taker.  When I leave this world, I want to leave it a better place.

Are you a thankful person?  Do you thank God for the blessings you have in life?  Be thankful for the little things.  When you start to count your blessings, you will realize that despite the hardships you face, and the trials you go though, you still have a lot to be thankful for.  Give thanks.  Show gratitude.  You can be bitter….or you can be better.  Your choice.

I love the quotes from Zig Ziglar: “Get a check-up from the neck up, and get rid of stinkin thinkin.”  If you are not grateful, ask yourself “Why?”  Life is short.  Don’t waste it.  You can change the way you think. Give thanks.  Having a grateful heart will mend some of the broken relationships you face, and help you to learn the secret of success…serving God, and serving others. When you learn to be grateful, you learn how to give abundantly.  You can be stingy and live for yourself, or you can be grateful and sow life into others.  In the end, it will be what you are remembered for both here and when we stand before God.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Discipline

Posted in General, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Discipline

What do you think of when this word comes to mind, punishment or self-control?  I am going to concentrate on the second meaning.  Discipline is a mindset.  It is taking every thought captive.  It is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

Discipline is saying no to the second helping of Blue Bell ice cream.  It is saying no to the first helping if you are overweight.  It is making yourself get to work when you want to play.  It is not taking shortcuts that are critical to life. It is a vital piece of success.

Undisciplined people are all around us.  They are texting while driving (ouch!). They are sleeping too much.  They are eating too much.  They are pains in the posterior for those of us who want to make something of ourselves.

Principle 1.  Nothing great was ever achieved without discipline.  If you aspire to win, to make an indelible footprint that will be remembered, be disciplined.  Be intentional.

Principle 2.  Discipline does not have to be punishment.  It can be the vehicle to untold riches, to incredible achievements, to leaving a legacy that is worthwhile.  That’s what I’m talking about!

Principle 3.  There is a great book called The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. If you are going to live WITH purpose….you have to live ON purpose. Make sense?

Principle 4.  Discipline is by definition focused. It requires a clear mind, and a clear heart. If you have allowed things to clutter your mind, make a conscious effort to stop it. Noise has a way of confusing things.  Learn to be still.  Learn to be quiet.  It is amazing at how focused I am at 3 AM when the dogs are not running around, the TV is off, and the family is asleep.

Would you say you are disciplined or undisciplined?  Maybe a better question would be, “What would your spouse or best friend say?  Would they say you were disciplined or undisciplined?”  Ask them.  Ask them if there is any area of your life that you are undisciplined to let you know.  You probably already know what area that is, but this may be the thing to help drive it home to you so you will take it seriously and do something about it.

If you need to exercise more, do it.  If you need to read your Bible more, do it.  If you need to control your tongue, do it.  Whatever it is that you are lacking, fix it.  In the words of the great prophet, Nike, “Just Do It.”

My hope is that you make the effort to discipline yourself to achieve greatness, not for your own glory, but for the glory of our Creator, and for the impact it will have on mankind. Here is to leaving positive footprints.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Mr. Fix-It

Posted in General, Relationships

Mr Fix It dan skognes leadership development trainer coach consultant motivation blogger speaker

I have never been a handyman.  Never have, and probably never will be. I learned years ago that electrical work and plumbing were skills beyond my realm of expertise.  There is a reason that those people have to have a license. Not that I don’t want to know.  My brain just does not “get it” when it comes to fixing things.  Part of the problem is that I don’t like reading the instructions.  I tend to get the parts out of the box and put them together how I think it should be done.  I know, I know, that is pretty stupid.  I could save myself a lot of money, time, and effort by just reading the instructions.

Before you get too self-righteous, what areas of your life do YOU need to fix? Now I have gone to meddlin’ as they say in the South.  Men by nature want to fix things.  When someone mentions a problem to me, my mind automatically goes into the Mr. Fix-it mode and looks for a solution.  Apparently men are just wired that way.

Women, however, are not necessarily looking for the solution.  They just want to talk about it and expect us to listen without trying to fix it.  How in the world is THAT ever going to happen???  Men and women can drive each other crazy over this, and you know who we can blame for it all?  Mr. Fix-it!

Principle 1.  It is not necessary to fix everything.  In fact, that is impossible, so fix THAT.

Principle 2.  Don’t try to fix things that you are not equipped to fix.  Having the right tools is critical to fixing things.  That applies to physically and emotionally fixing things.  If you don’t have the right tools, you are liable to break something.  Breaking a tool is one thing, but breaking a heart is quite different and has much longer lasting implications.

Principle 3.  If you want to fix something, please fix yourself.  It is so easy to try to “fix” other people.  Here is a secret.  Lean over here and let me whisper this in your ear.  “NOBODY WANTS TO BE FIXED.”  So stop it!  LOL

I hope and pray that the guys out there that read this know when to put on the tool belt, and know when they need to take it off.  That they know when to get some new tools or sharpen the ones they have.

And for the women out there, in behalf of all the Mr. Fix-its, we are sorry for trying to fix everything.  Please cut us some slack.  We are wired that way and have to re-wire our thinking to communicate with you in your foreign tongue.  You may have to help us in that area…but please be gentle and patient with us, and for Pete’s sake, don’t try to fix US. (Ladies, here is a hint, it helps guys if you make them think it was THEIR idea….LOL).

Shalom!

Dan Skognes