Reflections from the 2016 Ethical Leadership Assembly

By: Vy Tran, 2016 Dalai Lama Fellow, Stanford University

How I Feel: Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps the best place to begin is from that of an overwhelmed heart. I remember feeling a palpable force of love and compassion in the open space where we first all met. In The Presidio’s Future’s Without Violence. My uber making it just 2 minutes before 9am and I join the other Fellows as I unload my luggage ready to unpack my excitement for what lies ahead in the coming week.

As we held the invisible world in our hands and share what the ELA means to us, I remember a great sense of belonging. Here I am with a group of human beings who feel as much compassion and desire to serve the world as I do. Throughout our week, I am constantly impressed by how well we all got along. Despite coming from different localities and socio-economic backgrounds, we are united by our one desire to make the world a better place.

I am grateful to be in this space in which I can feel safe to speak up (to even yell (#Natalie’s closing circle,) and to be myself.

I’ve learned:


A guiding force in times of challenge. Let me remember this in times of darkness. Shantell’s story really inspired me. That I can still care a lot and work hard towards my vision even if I don’t have the full support of others.

Listening as an Act of Love

A power way to learn about motivation and personal truths. 1. Values. 2.Mindfulness. 3. Higher purpose. (The ears with which we listen can tune into.) I can have my heart tune into other lenses to hear, I see others stories. Reflecting back allows for affirmation and insight from another perspective.

Dismantling my assumptions and those of others

Rooted in me are fears and misunderstanding of those who are different from me. Baba and Best are two examples who showed me other ways to love a brother as an equal. To hug and smile indiscriminately. Loving everyone I meet. I must always remember that every moment one judges, are time and energy taken away from loving others.

Another lesson that “Crossing the Line” has taught me, is that behind each person are stories of struggle and resilience that we would otherwise fail to discover unless we listen and seek to learn.

Love as a Guide

Tune into the forces around us. Just as if we would not be able to hear the radio if we were not tuned into the right frequency, we would not be able to discover the great forces of energy, spirituality & love out there.

Highlights captured during the “Love as a Guide” Session with the Fetzer Institute.

Let the Answers Come From the People

Adaptive leadership reemphasizes interdependence, that the answers need to come from a place of creation rather than one single leader. Leadership ≠ authority.

Grow in Discomfort

Rather than ignoring it. After learning about Adaptive Leadership, I am more committed to inviting discomfort in fact, embrace it, and look for the roots of discomfort. That’s where we need to work on ourselves,where we would have much to learn.

Fail Faster to Succeed Sooner

Often, I want to wait to have polished ideas and drafts before sharing, yet this misses input when most needed. I vow to not be afraid to be imperfect, to fail and to be a fearless lifelong disciple of failure.

Medicine Comes in Many Forms

In stories, laughter, gifts of nature, in brotherhood, in unseen forces. As an aspiring healer, I am inspired to reconsider narratives of pain intertwined with healing.

How does my ELA experience inform my project and beyond?

As i experience trifles and failures, I shall remember that I am not alone. Let these moments of love, compassion, acceptance and motivation guide me. I shall reach out to my coach and peers in times of challenges as well as celebrations. May I remember to trust in the ‘grown zone’ in order to grow and mature as a resilient leader. May I remember to listen to all that is said and all that is left unsaid. May I remember to be compassionate to myself and be welcoming of failures early and often.

Vy’s Compassion-in-Action Board