The Best Rest

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Best Rest dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorLearning to rest in a world that is full of hustle and bustle is not easy. There is so much to do and everyone I know is “busy.” Here is the problem with being “busy:” Just because you are busy does not mean you are productive. In fact, it may be a clue that you need to re-think what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Most people I know have a lot on their plates. They have to juggle work, family, friends, health, entertainment, and their faith. They work long hours and then have to engage with their family. Even for those that don’t have family, the work is not done when they come home. There is always cooking, cleaning, picking up laundry, taking care of the car, the lawn, etc., etc. Life is just busy. We are one of the busiest countries in the world, but are we too busy for our own good?

Here are some lessons we could learn from the world:

  • Two weeks is not enough vacation. That is enough time to get somewhere and start to unwind, but then you have to go back to work just as you were starting to chill out. I know some countries have vacation time that lasts over 30 days as policy. I am not sure what the magic number would be for us, but two weeks does not cut it.
  • New Mom’s need time to bond and care for their kids. I don’t know what is reasonable for someone to be gone from work and take care of their child, but I know that too many women have to come back to work before they are ready.
  • Some countries have 4 day work weeks. I love that idea. I personally would be in favor of that, but I realize it gets tricky because our country is focused on 40 hours a week as being “fulltime.” Spreading the 8 hours missed over the 4 days worked has problems as well. Perhaps we need to re-define what fulltime is.
  • Working two, three, or four jobs at once may be necessary in emergencies to make ends meet, but it should not become the norm. Even God rested on the 7th day. You can burn the candle at both ends for a time, but eventually you burn out.

There are always going to be times where you have to put in extra hours for work, whether you are a teacher, a lawyer, a fireman, or whatever. Every job will encounter times requiring overtime. That is life. What we have to come to terms with is balancing work with our life. Our work should never BE our life. If that is the case then you need to get a life. Working 50, 60, 70, or 80+ hours a week will take a toll on other relationships, your health, and even your ability to do a good job where you work.

Take time every week to rest. Relax and do something you love doing and don’t stress over all the things on the to-do list. That list will always be there…trust me. Somehow we have to learn the power of rest. We seem to have lost that as a country. By the way, one of the meanings of the word Shalom is “complete rest.” I like that.


Dan Skognes

Camo Kids

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Camo Kids dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorCamo kids are all around us. You don’t see them because they blend in. They are not troublemakers (though they may be troubled), they are typically quiet and subdued, and they are not very social. They don’t volunteer to answer questions, and they may appear sullen. We tend not to notice them because we are drawn to the kids who need help, the ones we have to constantly correct, or the ones who we naturally like. Camo kids may be the forgotten ones. If they are absent from class, you might have trouble remembering who is gone.

This is not to point a finger at anyone, but merely to heighten the awareness of all the children in our care. Because they tend to blend, we have to be intentional in building relationships with them. Next time you are with a group of kids, notice:

  • Who is it that is not participating?
  • Who is it that is extremely quiet?
  • Who is it that avoids eye contact?

This is not a given that the kid has problems. They may be fully functional and intelligent. The point is that all kids need to be noticed. They need to know they matter. They want you to know their name.

This last point was driven home to me this week as I was tutoring a small group in reading. I called on one girl and she immediately said, “That is NOT my name.” I took a quick peek at my notes and it was indeed her name, so I asked her, “What IS your name?” She said, “That is how you say it in English, but not in Spanish.” I knew she was Spanish but it never dawned on me that she pronounced her name differently until she pointed it out. I apologized and assured her I would work on learning how to say her name correctly. No name is more important to a person than their own…especially if they are a child. If you learn to use someone’s name, it goes a long way in showing you care about them and value who they are.

My challenge to you is to take note of the camo kids and be intentional in getting to know them. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover, and the relationship you build with them may indeed be life-changing for both of you.


Dan Skognes

A Dad’s Prayer

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

A Dads Prayer Magnet dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

A Mother’s Prayer

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

A Mothers Prayer Magnet dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

The Red Zone

Posted in Business, Motivational

The Red Zone dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIn football, there is a thing called the red zone. It is the last twenty yards you have to cross in order to score your touchdown. It is by far the hardest part of the field to cross. In a way, it is a paradox. You are so close to your goal you can almost touch it, yet the opposition is so fierce within the red zone that many people are unable to score.

In life, the red zone is our comfort zone. At first glance, you may think, “That can’t be true.” Yet, I believe the comfort zone is the hardest zone of our life to break through. The reason is: fear is the imaginary barbed wire that surrounds the comfort zone. Everything we really want is on the other side: peace, joy, fulfillment, and reaching our goals.

If you are stuck in the red zone of life, how can you reach your goal?

  • If what you have been doing is not working, try a different strategy. Think about it this way. You are on the opponent’s twenty-yard line and you keep giving the ball to your star running back every play, and every time you do he gets crunched in the backfield. Does it make any sense to keep running that play and expecting a different outcome? You might get lucky and score, but the odds are not with you, particularly if the opposition knows your game plan. Have a plan b, c, and d if necessary.
  • You have to believe you can reach your goal if you ever expect to do it. Don’t allow negative people to keep you in the red zone. There are many people who don’t want you to succeed for a variety of reasons. Don’t listen to them. Have enough confidence in yourself and your team (if you have one) that you KNOW you are going to score. You just have to figure out the right strategy and do it.
  • Have a well thought out game plan BEFORE you start the game. Can you imagine going into a game without a playbook? Of course not. And yet…that is what people do day in and day out when it comes to playing the game of life. They just wing it, and that is usually a recipe for disaster. You have to think through what will and won’t work. You have to figure out what the cost is to reach your goal and anticipate opposition. You will get opposition from many sources, but the greatest opposition may very well be the voice in your head telling you, “This is never going to happen.” Take those thoughts captive and don’t let them take root in what you believe. Have a playbook and know it by heart, then implement.
  • Improvise when you have to. Just because you are stuck and the odds seem overwhelming at the moment does not mean you are going to get sacked again. Pivot and play. Watch the great quarterbacks and how they respond to pressure. When the pocket begins to collapse, they pivot and play. They either look for an alternate receiver or they find a hole in the line and run through it themselves. They keep their mind on the goal and their eye on the ball.

I pray that you find a way to reach the end zone and not let anything deter you from fulfilling your dreams.


Dan Skognes

Think Outside the Box

Posted in Business, Motivational

Think Outside the Box dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

One of the great challenges we have as educators is to help kids think outside the box…to think creatively. Critical thinking does not come naturally for most people, but it can be learned.  Many kids and even adults get stuck with linear thinking and if it does not fit into the mold of how they think it should work, then in their mind it won’t work.

This is why I love riddles and kids love them too. It makes us think beyond the obvious and dig for clues as to how it could work. The Nine Dot Riddle is great for this purpose. You have to draw four straight lines without ever lifting your pencil and cross every dot. You literally have to think outside the box to do it.

I showed my kids at school the one below just to see if they could figure it out:

                                                           What has four letters

                                                           Never has five letters

                                                    And sometimes has nine letters

I am not going to tell you the answer. You have to figure it out!

I was pleasantly surprised that many kids figured this out themselves, and they are in 3rd grade!  Sometimes I wonder if I am smarter than a 3rd grader. LOL. These kids are not gifted and talented for the most part. There might be one or two in the class of 27 that fit into that category, and they DID get the answer first, but the rest are average or below average students and many of them got in on their own fairly quickly.

If you have not used riddles in your class to help kids develop critical thinking skills, try it. It works extremely well and the kids LOVE them. They were asking me if I knew anymore when they got this one right. I use riddles as a reward if they get their assignments done and everyone stays on task. There is a great sense of accomplishment that goes with figuring out something on your own, particularly if it is not readily apparent.  You can have them work individually or in pairs…or even in small groups if it is a challenging riddle.

Feel free to use this forum for exchanging riddle ideas…as long as they are appropriate for kids.


Dan Skognes

The Coaches’ Prayer

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Coaches' Prayer dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThank you Lord for the opportunity you have given me to coach others. I recognize the sacred responsibility I have to encourage, inspire, and motivate others to succeed. I also recognize that it is not just about winning a game, but winning the game of life. I pray that I am able to help those I coach identify and capitalize on their strengths, minimize their weaknesses, and learn from them both. I pray that I am able to be a role model for them at all times, knowing that what I do far outweighs what I say. Help those I coach learn that failing is not fatal unless they quit and that stumbling blocks can become their stepping stones to success. I pray that the preparation and perspiration required to succeed are coupled with perseverance and common sense. I ask that you help them condition their minds and bodies to excel and that you protect them from harm. I pray Lord that you help them compete with integrity, character, and humility, and not worry about what their critics or competitors say, but to let their actions put the words of those that oppose them to rest. Help us remember that to be the best requires time, determination, being secure in yourself, and having a teachable spirit. Let us always honor those who have helped us succeed, whether it is our parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, or friends. Teamwork is vital in sports, business, and home life. Help us each do our part to succeed in the game of life. Amen.


Dan Skognes

Don’t Fear…Persevere

Posted in Business, Motivational

Dont Fear Persevere dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorOne of the greatest things you can do in your life is to learn the power of perseverance. This applies to businesses, education, relationships, and your own personal development. Perseverance is the grit and glue that binds us to our destiny.

I was speaking with a waitress this past weekend. I asked her what she planned to do with her life. She was in her early 20s. She smiled and said she was in her last semester of college and was planning on going on to get her masters…but she was afraid she could not continue even getting her bachelor’s degree because she did not have the money. She had to work so many hours that she could not dedicate time to studying.

That is a dilemma for a lot of kids, isn’t it? We discussed options briefly, but I encouraged her to finish getting her degree, and if she REALLY wanted to get her Master’s degree…get it now. Don’t try to go back later in life when you are married and have kids. It can be done but is incredibly difficult to manage all of that.

This is the point that many young people face in getting their education these days. They know they need it, they want it, but can’t afford it. She said she had family that could help her financially, but she did not want to ask them for help. I just told her (kindly) that she needed to lose the pride and ask for help. Her family could help her in multiple ways including getting loans and grants.

One of the greatest things we learn from getting an education is perseverance. We learn to persevere when there is no money, when we are juggling school and work hours, or balancing social activities. We learn to persevere because we know that the price we pay now will pay off for us down the road. That is an incredibly important lesson for everyone to learn. Life is not about instant gratification. It is about sticking with it when things get hard. Perseverance is the thing that helps us take the next step towards our destiny. Don’t give up because things are tough. Life is tough, but it gets a lot tougher if you don’t persevere.


Dan Skognes

Peace, Love, and Understanding

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Peace Love and Understanding dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

(Dedicated to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting)

Here are some of the lyrics from a song with that title penned by Elvis Costello:

“As I walk through

This wicked world

Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself

Is all hope lost?

Is there only pain, hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside

There’s one thing I wanna know:

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding? Ohhhhh

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?”

The truth is: it is not funny at all.  It is sadly lacking in our world today. Everywhere I look I see people caught up in evil and going crazy on each other. Here is what I believe WILL change the world for the better: We have to see other people through God’s eyes. What would that look like?

  • We would love each other despite our differences in politics, religion, ethnic origin, or any other prejudice.
  • We would seek to understand those that are different from us rather than fear, hate, or judge them.
  • We would put others before ourselves and learn to be givers instead of takers.
  • We would truly care about people who are suffering, poor, widowed, orphaned, or in prison.

I know this may seem like the impossible dream, but if I don’t do it, who will? If I can set the proper example, then maybe those that God brings across my path will be inspired to love, understand, and be at peace with one another, but it has to start with me.


Dan Skognes

The Leader’s Prayer

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Leaders Prayer dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorLord, I come to you today first of all to give thanks. Thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercy on me. Thank you for my family, friends, and co-workers. Thank you for my job. Help me, Lord, in the decisions I make today. I pray that my decisions are not selfish but for the good of all and that I make them for the right reasons. Help me to remember to lead by serving. Help me to discern what is important and what is wasting my time. Help me to face my fears and not let them keep me from making the hard decisions. Help me to know who to trust, who to watch, who to empower, and who to let go. I pray for those that work with me, that I will encourage them, for I know that many of them are carrying heavy loads at work and at home. Bless each of them and their families, Father. Give them strength for the day, and help them not to worry about tomorrow, but to learn to trust you regardless of the circumstances. Help me be a reflection of you and your love to those I encounter this day. Amen


Dan Skognes