Sharpen Yourself

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

What good does it do to sharpen a knife if you are never going to use it? Well, you might argue that at least you will be prepared if you need it, or you could argue why waste the time for something you may never use? Both are legitimate arguments.

When it comes to sharpening yourself, I like to err on the side of being prepared. This applies to work, to relationships, and to our spiritual lives. If we never sharpen our blade we tend to become dull over time and less effective. Think about this in the world of teaching. If you are in the rut of a routine because you did not take time to prepare a great lesson, then why should you expect the students to excel?

I know that some kids will rise above the level of teaching but they are not the norm. Most kids want to know what they are doing and why they are doing it. They ultimately need to know what’s in it for them!

As we come to the close of a year which has been a strain on everyone (putting it mildly), my encouragement to you is to sharpen your blade. Do something outside of your comfort zone and resist the temptation to just fill time in the class. When teaching you have to expect the unexpected. Fire drills, observations by Principals or Corporate Coaches, illness of your co-teacher, days when you are just stressed out, tired, or not feeling well yourself, kids who have a melt-down in your class, technology issues, etc. The list is lengthy and can throw you for a loop if you are not prepared for the unexpected.

When you face something unexpected in the day, BREATHE! It is easy to get stressed out over things that in retrospect are just hiccups! Don’t let the stress of teaching overwhelm you! If you see one of your co-workers struggling, encourage them. Give them a hand if you can and take some of the burden off of their shoulders. It is a lot easier to get through a crisis if you know you have someone walking beside you and helping you, doesn’t it?

If you work in a dysfunctional team, then it is up to YOU to be the light in the darkness. It is up to YOU to be the encourager. YOU be the helper THEY need. It is amazing to see how small acts of kindness can melt hearts of stone. It may not happen overnight, but if you do the right thing consistently, good things will happen at some point. You reap what you sow.

This applies to other fields of work as well as to our relationships. We need each other, and we need to be people who show love instead of hatred, encouragement instead of resentment, mercy instead of judgment, and sow seeds of peace instead of discord. That would make the world a better place for all of us, don’t you think?

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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Give Thanks!

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Problem With Lies

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Let’s face it. Lies are problematic. No matter how big or how small the lie is, there are always consequences, and the consequences can be substantial. A lie will cost you more than you thought…perhaps even to the point of losing everything you have. You can count on that. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • We tell them so often we begin to believe them ourselves.
  • The lies we tell ourselves are particularly sick because they pervert what God has ordained for us.
  • They destroy relationships and trust.
  • They are habitual and can be very hard to break.
  • They indicate a sin problem that most folks just don’t want to admit to.
  • They are from the enemy of our soul, never from God.
  • You have to remember what you said because you will have to lie about it again or at the very least justify why you lied…and that never goes well.
  • They indicate a deep character flaw.
  • They make the receiver of the lie feel angry, used, vindictive, and hurt.

Next time you think about telling a lie (and we ALL are tempted to life from time to time), consider the consequences. The truth always comes out in the end. Why not just be truthful and not have to worry about it?

P.S. If you feel like you are going to have to lie to someone if you do a particular thing, don’t do it! No matter how good it looks, how good it feels, or how good you think it will turn out, don’t do it! Walk away and you will book back and be glad instead of sad. Choose wisely.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Laser Vision

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

One of Superman’s powers is laser vision. While I think that is pretty cool, I really think that we all need laser vision, but in a different sense. We need a laser focus in our vision.

We were planned by God on purpose and for a purpose.” Jeff Little

When we find our purpose, we have to figure out what do we do with that information. How do we walk out what we were called to be in life? That is a tall order and the quest that leaves many people wondering what they are going to be when they grow up even after they have already grown up.

I don’t mean to make this sound simplistic. This is a serious question that every person on the planet has to come to grips with and figure out. Laser focus is a key to finding your purpose and walking it out. Lack of focus can be the reason jobs are lost, marriages go on the rocks, projects go awry, and even wars are started. Focus is one of the keys to success in our lives, but we have to focus on the right things. If we focus on the negatives of life, how can we expect anything positive?

Focus on what is true, pure, and just. When God gives you a vision for your life, walk it out in faith and without fear. Focus not just on the goal, but also on the journey. There is joy in the journey if you learn to count your blessings and have an attitude of gratitude. You can expect roadblocks and detours along the way. That is just the way life goes, but those delays can be blessings in disguise. Allow God to lead, sustain, protect, and encourage you as you find your way one step at a time. Trust His timing and His direction. In this year of confusion, we could all use more focus on God’s will for our lives. Don’t let the negativity of this world blur your vision.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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1%

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

How would you like to change your life radically for the better? How would you like to get unstuck from obstacles or opportunities that have been holding you back from living the life you have always dreamed of having? It sounds too good to be true, but it is pretty simple. It is called The 1% Rule. This is a book written by Tommy Baker. There are a lot of great nuggets in this book, but I will boil it down to a few key points.

People get stuck in many areas of their life. It could be work, health, diet, finances, relationships, or their spiritual growth. The key here is that the 1% rule applies to every aspect of your life. The reason we get stuck in neutral and don’t move forward is that we don’t know how to shift gears. Once you learn this, it will change your life in every area that you apply it to. The key is progress. As long as you are making some progress (no matter how small it is) every day, you can stay motivated to achieve success.

Sometimes we look at the obstacles or opportunities that we are facing and we just get overwhelmed with the enormity of it all. We want to do something, but we don’t know how, so you know what most people do? Nothing! They get stuck waiting for “the right moment.” Guess what? The right moment does not exist! You have to create it! The right moment is waiting on YOU to do something positive. That idea alone is worth the price of admission.

But get this: If you make 1% progress every day for a year, how much progress will you have made at the end of a year? You would think there are 365 days in the year, so you would have made 365% progress, and that would be a lot for anyone, but you would be wrong. If you just make 1% progress every day for a year because of the power of compounding over time, you will have made a 3,700% positive change in your life! Let that sink in for a moment.

What challenges or opportunities are waiting for you? Can you make just a 1% effort in that area every day for a year? I don’t know about you, but this is a life changing concept for me. We now have the vehicle to get us where we are going, and we have been taught how to shift gears. So….where do YOU want to go now?

P.S. Has anyone ever told you how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Now I get it!

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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Social Security

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

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The Teaching GPS

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Everyone knows how a GPS works. It calculates where you are and helps you get to where you are going. When you make a mistake….no problem. “Re-calculating” assures you that you will still get to your destination. It simply re-routes you from your current location. Is it perfect? No….but neither is teaching.

We imperfect teachers teach imperfect kids who live in an imperfect world. We hit a lot of obstructions on the road to success. We deal with kids who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected. Some come to school without being fed or even properly dressed. Some have learning disabilities and many just need to know that somebody cares about them. Couple all of that with the personal challenges that every teacher has and you can see that the journey is one that can be frustrating and tiring for everyone involved.

The teaching GPS mentality gives us the flexibility to deal with all the craziness that comes our way every day and not lose our focus or our mind. A sense of humor is part of the programming as well as reminding yourself that “This too shall pass.” If you can learn not to sweat the small stuff, it makes the journey a lot more fun. Anticipate roadblocks, potholes, crazy drivers, and delays. That is just the way life goes. Sometimes the road is smooth and sometimes it seems like it is all under construction.

Administrative support is critical to the ultimate success or failure of the academic journey. A school system will rise or fall depending on the leadership. If teachers and staff are valued, listened to, supported, and encouraged, they will have a great chance of reaching their goals. If they treat the staff as objects to be used for their own success, there will be a great deal of dysfunction, backbiting, problems, and griping. High teacher turnover and burnout will be evident where the staff is not truly appreciated and supported.

Failure is not fatal unless you give up. It just means you have not succeeded yet. Allow yourself and your students to learn from failures and from the journey itself. Encourage one another and learn from everyone you meet and everything you do. Life is a marvelous teacher if we are willing to observe and learn from it. Own your mistakes, but don’t let them define who you are or limit where you are going.

One of the best parts of the teaching GPS mentality is having a peer portal. This allows the sharing of ideas with your peers. The things that work and don’t work may easily be incorporated if everyone will share their best practices. Just knowing you are not alone is a great comfort when you are going though a rough spot in the road. Peers can teach you shortcuts and detours that may very well be the difference between success and failure for you and your students. I know that teaching can be draining, frustrating, and you may want to quit every other day. If you are called to teach, don’t quit, commit. Commit to the journey, the kids, to your peers, and of course…to yourself. Future generations are being impacted by what we do one day at a time…one child at a time.

Investing in children is the best type of Social Security there is.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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Face the Music

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The origin of the term “Face the Music” is not clear…but the meaning of it is: We have to face our problems (and the consequences of our actions) at some point.

My wife said something very profound today:

You can’t run from your problems, they run with you.” Vicki Skognes

Everybody has problems. The question is, what do you do with them? Many people think drugs, alcohol, sex, other addictions, and even a change of scenery is going to make the problems go away.

Please, if you don’t ever listen to anything else I say, hear this: You can’t run from your problems! They will stay with you till you confront them and find a viable solution to them.

We can bury our heads in the sand and wish that life were different…or…we can actually do what we need to do: confront our issues head on. That is not easy. It is not without some pain and discomfort, but the alternative is just insanity! Aren’t you crazy enough without putting gas on the fire?

We typically don’t want to confront our problems for several reasons:

  • We fear the outcome. *Living in fear is never good and results in misery for all involved.
  • We hope the problems go away on their own. *They rarely do, by the way.
  • We want someone else to confront them for us. *That is unrealistic to expect someone else to bail you out of your problems. That is called: “Passing the buck,” and it will catch up with you.
  • We think that nobody will notice the storm we are creating. *Hello…are you that naive? Everyone seems to notice except you.

There is an old saying that is worth repeating: “You can run, but you can’t hide.” At some point you have to come face to face with your problems…whatever they are, and quit making excuses, quit running, and face the facts. As uncomfortable and heartless as this may sound, it is some of the best advice you have heard if you are running from your problems. Face the music now so you can enjoy the next chapter of your life. The ball is in your court. Are you going to continue to dribble, foul, pass, or go for the goal?

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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Life Teachers

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Many things teach us throughout life. Here are just a few:

Success teaches us the value of setting goals and perseverance.

Failure teaches us that it is not fatal unless we give up. It also teaches what did not work, when to give up, and when to endure.

Death teaches us the brevity of life, the value of relationships, and that nobody is immune to it.

Dogs (and pets in general) teach us to love God’s creation, and also how to love unselfishly.

Creation teaches us to revere God.

Family teaches us that we can’t choose the family we are born in to, but we can do our best to love them even when they are crazy.

Friends teach us that we have a need for like-minded people built in to us.

Marriage teaches us Finance 101, how to serve one another, how to compromise and negotiate, how to forgive, how to admit fault, how to ask for forgiveness, and that the wife rules the nest.

Kids teach us to love unselfishly and share what we have learned.

Grandkids teach us that they are one of the the best gifts our kids can give us.

Laughter teaches us that we can find things to laugh about even in the darkest hour, and that it is indeed good medicine.

Tears teach us that they are a lot like rain. They fall sometimes unexpectedly, they have a way of cleansing the air, and they are necessary to the balance of life.

The tongue teaches us very little because it constantly wants to be a dictator, and nobody can tame it.

Work teaches us the value of the dollar.

Relaxing teaches us the value of recharging our batteries.

Worry teaches us that it has no value whatsoever.

Fear teaches us to have no faith.

Faith teaches us to have no fear.

Hope teaches us to expect the best regardless of what we see, what we feel, or what we think.

God teaches us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Pride teaches us that it repels others.

Humility teaches us that it attracts others.

A thankful heart teaches us to give thanks in all things.

A complaining heart teaches us that we need to learn to be thankful.

Truth teaches us that it is something we must seek, we must live by, and we must embrace at all costs.

Lies teach us that they come in many forms and always seek to steal, kill, or destroy us.

The battles we face teach us that they are spiritual in nature, so we have to put on the full armor of God if we expect to win.

Christ teaches us the way to the Father, servant leadership, and self-sacrifice.

The Bible teaches us to hear God, follow Him, love and respect Him, trust Him, and praise Him for who He is and all He has done in the past and will do for us now and in the future.

Feel free to share any other teachers you might have had.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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The Simple Life

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Life is not always easy, but it can be easier. If I told you that you could make your life easier with some simple things, wouldn’t you want to do it? I know some of you are already skeptical and thinking that nothing in life is simple. Well, the things I am going to give you are indeed simple. It is the doing them that sometimes trips us up. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

  1. Put God first in everything you do. If you put yourself or other people first, then you will fall short of living out the best life that God intends for each of us.
  2. After God, put the needs of others before your own needs. Having an empathetic heart will help you understand the struggles that other people are facing.
  3. Life is harder if you’re stupid. Don’t make stupid decisions. If you ignore the red flags warning you not to do something, then it is on you and you will suffer the consequences.
  4. Learn the lesson the first time. Why do you do the same thing over and over and expect different results? Stop that. It makes no sense.
  5. Live within your means and quit comparing yourselves to others. We live in very materialistic times and it is easy to get caught up in what you don’t have. Be grateful for what you do have and be a good steward of it.
  6. Don’t expect others to change. You can’t change anyone. You got your hands full just trying to change yourself. You work on you and let God help you be the best version of you that you can be. Only God can change other people. Let Him do His job and you do yours.
  7. Control your tongue. That is one of the hardest things to do, but if you can learn that one thing alone, it can change the course of your life and all of your relationships. Respond instead of react. When you respond, you think before you speak.

See how simple those are? They are simple yet profound truths that we all need to practice.

You’re welcome!

Daniel Skognes