On August 24, I moved onto Stanford’s campus to begin my full-time MBA. Although COVID-19 safety protocols restrict us from most face-to-face interactions, I am proud of my class for creatively and safely bonding. At the risk of sounding cliché, our conversations have significantly impacted me already.

These conversations uncovered key life lessons that I want to live by in life. In the hope that our small community can grow together, I will share them with you:

1. Stay true to your younger self.

One of my classmates carries a picture of himself as a child in his wallet. When he sees the picture, he is triggered to ask himself an important question: “Am I making this little kid proud?” We should stay true to our younger selves to avoid chasing superficial things like money and status and remind ourselves what really matters.

2. Do not take yourself too seriously.

Taking yourself too seriously can lead to a closed mind and a lack of creativity. Open up a bit, have fun, and get silly. Most importantly, laugh at yourself!

3. Real leaders shine in a burning mall.

What is true leadership? Picture yourself in a mall with six random people and the mall suddenly bursts into flames. At that moment, each member of the group knows that their life is on the line. Who do you choose to follow and why? The small group discussing this scenario never reached a conclusion, but we agreed that the partial answer includes following a person who is:

  • Calm – In control of his/her emotions and can balance logic with instinct.
  • Competent – Knowledgeable of the situation (layout of the mall, understanding of the team, etc.). In life, this translates to knowing what matters.
  • Inspirational – Could push individuals to accomplish something greater than expected.

4. You are worthy of love.

In several of these conversations, I dug into some of my fears in life and realized that I struggle with self-worth. So this is a reminder that we are all worthy of love. Learn to love yourself and accept love from others. I struggle with the latter the most.

5. You must LOVE the flaws of a partner.

I told a classmate that to truly love someone you must not only accept their flaws but also be okay with living with those flaws the rest of your life. He corrected me with the view that maybe we should learn to love those flaws, not just accept them. I thought this was an amazing perspective and something I want to embrace.

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