Shifting Sand

Posted in General

House hangs off cliff

There is a proverb that says a man built his house on shifting sand.  The winds came and the house collapsed.  Another man built his house on solid rock.  When the winds came, it withstood the storm.

This proverb could apply to building a house, building a business, or building a relationship.  If there is not a firm foundation, it is going to collapse when the storms come, and as you know, in life…the storms WILL come.

What can you do to build a firm foundation?

  • Don’t take shortcuts.  Whether you are building something physically or emotionally, take the time necessary and use quality ingredients.  If you are building something physically, the foundation is the most important piece of the structure. Make sure it is properly mixed, properly cured, and adequate in width and depth. If it is a relationship, the foundation of any relationship is made up of trust, respect, and love.  If you have that as a foundation, it can stand any storm that life might throw at you.  Take one of the elements out, and it is likely to fall.
  • Don’t be deceived by the lure of the sand. I recently watched a million dollar house be burned to the ground because it was built on a cliff, and the ground below eventually gave way.  The house was going to fall into the lake, so it had to be burned to the ground to protect boaters.  What a tragedy that a structural engineer was not brought in to test the land first and see if it would stand the test of time. Insurance did not cover it because proper precautions were not taken. What a lesson to learn.  Talk about learning something the HARD way!
  • Have you ever seen a business that could not stand because it lacked a firm foundation?  There is a reason that most businesses fail in the first five years.  Lack of vision, lack of focus, lack of resources all contribute to the demise of thousands of businesses every year. Everyone goes into a business with great expectations of success, yet few are prepared for the storms. No business will make it without clear vision for where they are going. It takes great fortitude to not let the setbacks sink the ship or get you off course.  Stay on course, and make sure you have the provisions to see you through the storm.  Having a good crew is critical to success.  Few people make it solo in this day and age.
  • The cornerstone is the most critical piece of a solid foundation.  The reason it is so important is that it is the first stone set in the foundation, and all others take their place in accordance with it. If it is not aligned properly, everything else will be askew.  Make sure your cornerstone (physical or relational) is properly aligned.

May your foundations be firm, blessed, and secure.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Is There Anything That Duct Tape And WD40 Can’t Fix?

Posted in General

Is There Anything That Duct Tape And WD40 Cant Fix dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

There is a joke in my house that I am “Mr. Fix-it.”  I have a talent for taking something apart and not knowing how to put it together again, or putting it together and it working worse than before….or not at all.  I call it a “gift.”  LOL

If you have this gift, you will be smart to remember that a call to the plumber or electrician is much cheaper and a lot less frustrating in the end.

I learned a long time ago what my limitations were.  I just am not mechanically minded.  I don’t do plumbing, electrical work, or handle large equipment.  I really tested fate when I used a chain saw to chop up some tree limbs we cut down.  Thank God I still have all MY limbs.

I love Duct Tape and WD40.  They are two multipurpose products that just beg to be tried for something you need bound together or loosened apart.  One binds, one loosens.  How simple is that? Depending on what state you are from, you just might be using Duct Tape for about everything from holding on your bumper to taping your commode in place.

Now personally, that is where I draw the line.  I am not going to have tape on my bumper or my commode, I won’t wear a costume of duct tape, and I won’t be wrapping gifts with it.

Many years ago I bought my parents an expensive clock from Germany for their home.  It finally quit running, so my dad got the WD40 out and doused the insides of the clock.  I was MORTIFIED that he would do that.  I would have taken it to a clock store and had someone look at it to see what was wrong, but you know what?  It worked.  All I could do was laugh about it after the fact.

I have since used the tape to hold more than a few things that were in need of repair, and the WD40 is simply amazing at what it will loosen.  I found out it even takes off the tar that gets on my car when going over recently repaired roads.  How cool is that?

I also found out that there are Duct Tape and WD40 in Heaven. Matthew 18:18 says:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

You gotta love that!  Even God uses Duct Tape and WD40!  LOL.

P.S.  IMPORTANT NOTE: You are not supposed to put WD40 on your wife.

1st Corinthians 7:27 says:

“Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed.”  Apparently the Duct Tape is OK.

If she balks at the tape, don’t call me.  Take it up with God.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

When Is Right Wrong?

Posted in General, Relationships

When Is Right Wrong dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x200)

If you are left-handed, you know that the world was not made for you. It first dawned on me in grade school when I sat at my desk.  It was obviously made for a right-handed person.  Then the spiral on the notebook was on the wrong side.  And when I wrote left to right, I always got ink or pencil marks on the bottom of my hand!

We lefties have a joke that says, “At least we are in our right mind,” which technically is true.  That kind of irritates me though.  The right side of my brain controls my left side.  I can’t get away from it. Sheesh!

They say that left-handed people are more creative, and that is probably true.  We HAVE to be. We drive on the left side of the road, but we yield RIGHT of way. GRRRRR.

If you are a conservative, guess which side you are on? Right!  When you say the Pledge of Allegiance, which hand do you place over your heart? Right!  If you think outside the box, they say you are “Out in left field.”  And that is not a compliment.

Even in the Bible the left symbolized the dark side.  When God separates the good from the bad, guess which side the bad ones go on??? Left! Guess which side of God Jesus sits on?  Right!

We are “left” out, but it is “right” on.

Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative. The word “left” itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, meaning “weak.”

The Latin adjective sinister/sinistra/sinistrum originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives today, and in the English word “sinister”.

Even the word “ambidexterity” reflects the bias. Its intended meaning is “skillful on both sides”. However, since it keeps the Latin root dexter, which means “right”, it ends up conveying the idea of being “right-handed at both sides”.

In Sanskrit, the word “वाम” (waama) stands for both “left” and “wicked.

A “left-handed compliment” is considered one that is unflattering or dismissive in meaning.

I remember stories of people not much older than me that had to learn to be right-handed!  Their teachers thought that being left-handed was wrong and they were doing them a favor by teaching them the “right way.”  At least I was spared that.

About 15% of the population is estimated to be left-handed.  I am not sure what causes it.  I had two brothers, both left-handed, and my sister and parents right-handed.  Go figure.

I am not really complaining about the biases against lefties.  It is what it is.  Unfortunately, when someone says “It is what it is,” it is never a good thing….but apparently it is the “right” thing.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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