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“The best way to predict YOUR future is to CREATE it.” Abraham Lincoln

And what better way to create our own life than to have our very own built in compass.

BOOK RELEASE DATE: Memorial Day. Stay tuned.

Watch this interview on YouTube here




On this episode you will learn:

✔︎ How Assistant Principal Dan Wolfe came up with a “moral compass” using the 5 SEL Competencies to help students and teachers navigate through difficult times.

✔︎ How to use the 5 SEL Competencies to stay on track.

✔︎ How to use Dan’s Self-Assessment to see where our strengths and areas of improvement are.

✔︎ How to use a “Compass Check” to monitor our progress along the way.

✔︎ Insights and AHA Moments with using the 5 SEL Competencies as your “guide.”

For returning guests, welcome back, and for those who are new here, I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator, with a passion for learning, understanding difficult concepts, and breaking them down so that we can all use and apply the most current research to improve our productivity and results in our schools, sports environments, and workplace environments.

Today, on EPISODE #216, we will be speaking with Dan Wolfe, an Assistant Principal from Pasco County, Florida, on his new book Becoming the Change[i]: Five Essential Elements That Guide Us Towards Becoming Our Best Selves– that is coming out before Memorial Day Weekend. Dan reached out to me via Twitter to let me know he was about to release a new book that was inspired by a blog he started on Social and Emotional Learning called “Our Moral Compass” that led to him starting the Become the Change Podcast[ii] where Dan focuses on the five areas of social and emotional learning that we have been focused on with this podcast.

I’m always looking for unique ways to share these important SEL skills, and I loved what Dan has created with his book that compares SEL skills to a moral compass that can used to keep us on track with our life. Before the title of the book changed, it was going to called Our Moral Compass, and evolved to Becoming the Change.

What caught my attention with Dan, BEFORE I had even read this book, was the original title. I wondered how he was going to use the SEL competencies to help us navigate through difficult times in our life. We all need a moral compass, and without this, we can veer off track very quickly. How do you navigate through life when times are difficult? Do you have your own built in compass that keeps you on track?

I look forward to speaking with Dan, learning how he is using the analogy of a moral compass to help his students learn, navigate their way through the complexities of life, by understanding and apply SEL in our schools today.

Let’s meet Dan Wolfe!

Welcome Dan Wolfe, thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your new book, Becoming the Change.

INTRO Q: Dan, what caught my attention with what you have created is not just the fact I can see that you have been immersed in teaching SEL for many years, which is clear from your blog and podcast, that I know is a lot of work on top of being an Assistant Principal and all that goes along with this full-time position.

When I first saw your compass analogy, with the SEL competencies that we have been covering on this podcast since we launched, (we did add mindset to ours) but you’ve got the 5 Casel[iii] Competencies covered, it made me think of this powerful leadership activity I did many years ago involving a compass. I was dropped off in the middle of the woods with a cooler of food, (that I remember being very heavy) and a tent, (that was awkward to carry) and we had to navigate to our camp site using a compass. There had to have been at least 5 of us. This was years before I think Casel even came up with their 5 competencies, (or at least they weren’t online) but they were all apparent on this trek from where we were dropped off in the woods, to where we needed to go (our campsite) where we met up with all of the other groups in one place.

This activity was of course to bring to light how we “showed up” in life under a stressful, grueling, difficult task. I’ve thought of this activity many times over the years, as an example of all that’s needed to guide us through life…but the one area that really helped, especially when at a crossroads, was navigating life, with a moral compass that came from within, choosing what I think was best for me at the time.

How did you come up with this idea of the moral compass connected to these important SEL skills?

Self-awareness came up as we all got to see ourselves and unique characteristics on this journey. Relationship skills seemed to be the most important as we had to come to a consensus with every decision we made. Obviously they had to be responsible decisions to allow us to get to where we were going (hopefully before dark) so we could set up our tent in the daylight. Social awareness was apparent as we had to think outside of ourselves and help others, and we of course had to manage ourselves, and make sure our emotions were regulated in this difficult task.

Q1: Like my example of using a compass, we had to make sure we stayed on track as we moved from where we were, to our final destination. When we went off track, we lost (or wasted) time that was important for setting up our campsite that evening. What happens when we go off track with your compass analogy? Pick one of the competencies and explain how we can use your compass to navigate this competency through life.

Q2: There’s a lot behind this quote that you mention as a Compass Check. “You are the Captain of Your Own Ship. Never let society determine the direction of your moral compass.” (Page 12, Becoming the Change). I think of this for leaders who have to forge their own way, often going where no one has ever gone before them, or even like we spoke on a recent episode with Dr. Marie Gervais, with the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, who was given a lower wage because she a woman, and a woman of color. She didn’t even think of asking for more, since it was a “good” wage, but she knew she was being limited. In all the 5 competencies we usually know what to do to stay on track, but something gets in the way, takes us off course, and we don’t do it. How can we use this compass check to be responsible for ourselves, and our direction, as we pursue our goals?

Q3: Since anyone forging their own way will have come up against all of these statements, I wonder if you could review your Becoming the Change Self-Assessment Tool to pinpoint which one of the 5 competencies we need to focus on? I took this self-reflection tool, and while all the competencies are a work in progress, what showed up for me was self-awareness scored the highest with your score of  “I’m Headed in the Right Direction.” I know that I’m getting to know myself on a deeper level with each episode, and that my learning documented on this podcast, especially areas of growth that’s apparent if we answer your questions honestly. I think there’s always room for improvement and to learn more so I didn’t check “I’ve reached my destination” EXCEPT for the same area you did on Relationship Skills and helping others grow, since this is what I’m doing with the podcast.

What did you learn about yourself with this Self-Assessment?

What do you see others learn with it?

How can this tool be used like a compass to check our growth over time?

Q4: I couldn’t help noticing the choices on your self-assessment (I’m not sure which direction to go in or where to begin) or I’m at a crossroads, because I’ve been there many times. There was the time I was urged to move in the direction of neuroscience, and it was a new field for me, and I was questioning whether this was the right direction for me. What advice would you offer someone who has checked “I don’t know where to begin” or even when you’ve been working for some time and you hit a cross-road and are “somewhat stuck.” How would you help someone move past these 2 scenarios?

Q5: Chapter 2, Regulating Yourself Through Self-Management, you have a compass check about our true superpower. I heard podcaster Jay Shetty talking about superpowers and think we all have them, as we evolve, we get to know what they are. You put a quote in this chapter from Dale Carnegie about our True Superpower that I think is very important for us to all master.

“Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is

by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends

on inner conditions.”― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

In a world that seems to push our buttons daily (gas prices are skyrocketing, stress in the workplace is at an all-time high) how can we ALL master this superpower and stay in control of our happiness when the outside world is trying it’s best to sabotage our happiness?

Q6: In Chapter 3, Social Awareness, you have a quote by Brian Tracy.

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.”-Brian Tracy

This is a big one for me, and what’s crazy is that if you are not aware of your surroundings, this opportunity to lend a hand to another person can be missed. Your story about Sept 11th took me back to that time and I had only been living in the US a few months. The job I had come to do with youth had fell through, and I was at a crossroads, working out where I was going next, and to pay the bills, I found a job as a nanny at a local resort, and cleaned houses. Money was really tight. I remember standing in line at a grocery store and the guy in front of me was buying diapers (gosh after having kids, diapers were one of those necessities that you had to have, but boy where they expensive). I was NOT socially aware back then, and was thinking of myself, and in a split second I watched him not have enough money to pay for the diapers, and the check out clerk took them, and he ran out of the store. I missed an opportunity to help this guy, and I even tried to find him when I went outside of the store, but this has bothered me since that moment, over 20 years ago. Being socially aware is one thing, but being ready to act on it, when someone is in need is another. What have you noticed with social awareness and how to be prepared at all times to help others?

Q7: Chapter 4 on Enhancing Your Relationship Skills, you quote that No One is Perfect “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”

-Donald Miller   This reminded me of my last interview with Dr. Marie Gervais, and her book The Spirit of Work when I noticed that when we look at each person’s spirit, that’s for fuller expansion, we can only see greatness in this person, not their imperfections. How have you used this idea to enhance your relationships and look at everyone in this way?

Q8: Chapter 5 Responsible Decision-Making you quote Gary Vaynerchuk who says “Your legacy is being written by yourself. Make the right decisions.” I love Gary V, and liked this quote because we all do have an incredible opportunity to leave an important legacy in our lifetime, that can impact others, for years after we are gone and create what you say as “an everlasting legacy.” What advice would you have here about being mindful of our decisions today, so that we can strengthen the legacy we are working our entire lifetime on?

Q9: Is there something important that I have missed?

Dan, I want to thank you very much for sharing your new book with us. I absolutely love the moral compass analogy, and know this will help many others navigate through these 5 SEL competencies with a clear path. For people who want to access your book, what is the best way? Is your website the best place for people to find you?


Stay tuned for Memorial Day and the release of Becoming the Change.



Thank you!!

BIO: Dan Wolfe has served as an educator in Pasco County, Florida for more than 20 years. During this time, he has held roles as a teacher, instructional/district coach and administrator. He is currently an Assistant Principal at Sunray Elementary. He was selected as Pasco County’s District Teacher of the Year in 2011-2012 school year. He is a part of the district’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Committee that recently established Pre-K through Grade 12 SEL standards.

For the past two years Dan has written a blog and recorded a podcast called Becoming The Change (formerly Our Moral Compass) which focuses on a different quote each day and how we can best apply it towards becoming the change through our own moral compass and the five areas in SEL.