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Jun 27, 2022

Today we feature Professor Hitendra Wadhwa PhD who has been a fan of David’s work for the past ten years. Hitendra has just published a new book, Inner Mastery, Outer Impact.

Hitendra is a Professor of Practice at Columbia Business School and Founder of the Mentora Institute, and his class on Personal Leadership & Success is one of the most popular at Columbia Business School. He believes that the secret of leadership and success in business stems from inner mastery. He also has his own fascinating and skillfully produced podcast called Intersections where he interviews accomplished individuals from different spheres of human pursuit to draw out their insights and stories about the pursuit of success and happiness.

One of Hitendra’s aims has been to integrate current psychological trends with  ancient wisdom in order to glean the most important ideas needed for happy and successful lives. He has backed this up with a daily meditation practice he began 20 years ago, seeking answers to the most basic questions about the meaning and purpose of our lives and a philosophy that leads to joy, connection, and productivity.

Hitendra gives an example of how inner mastery can lead to outer impact. A colleague named Dan used to relentlessly find shortcomings and point to improved solutions every time Hitendra presented his work when he was first working as a business consultant. He said that he carried a grudge against Dan for several weeks because he was trying to impress his colleagues and felt put down by Dan.

Of course, this type of attitude and defensiveness can easily trigger the very adversarial responses we fear. Then we tend to blame the “outer” and overlook how we might be inadvertently creating our own negative external reality. Fortunately, the opposite is equally true. When your attitude suddenly shifts, and your “inner” self changes, your outer reality will nearly always suddenly shift at the same time.

One day, one of Hitendra’ s supervisors said to him: You should be more like Dan. He’s trying to help you take your game to the next level, but you don’t take a similar interest in helping him find ways to improve his work!”

Hitendra explained the impact of his supervisor’s statement:

“This comment suddenly turned on a light bulb in my head. I realized I was viewing Dan as an enemy, so if he criticized me, I thought he was against me, so I viewed him as the “enemy.” Instead, I decided to find the truth in his criticisms and began to view him as an ally, as a teacher, as someone who wanted to help me.

“At that point, our entire relationship changed dramatically, and I felt empowered!”

Of course, podcast fans will realize this as the Disarming Techniques, one of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication that David has popularized.

Hitendra also discussed other themes in his new book, like what it means to “be true to yourself,” and how to discover the crown jewel within yourself, at your core.

He also described how to tap into the five sources of core energy within yourself: Purpose, Wisdom, Growth, Love, and Self-Realization. He said that many people are afraid of Love, fearing that it is the same as weakness and will lead them to get taken advantage of. He suggested that in reality, love is a powerful force, and gave examples of the expression of love in a variety of successful business.

He told many fun and inspiring stories, including his stuckness when trying to think of a way to honor his father’s 80th birthday. He couldn’t think of what he’d say at the celebration, because he’d always done the opposite of what his father had recommended. But then, while meditating, he saw that he’d been inspired all long by how his father had lived his life.

He talked about the concept of transcendence as well as racism, and pointed out that we tend to label people based on some characteristic like skin color. But this can be very misleading, because two people who are Black, for example, will often have radically different backgrounds and life experiences.

As an example, he described someone from the Caribbean who had no experience of racial discrimination when growing up. He emphasized that when we label people, we get lazy and do not respond to the reality and depth of who that person really is. Essentially, we are then putting people in “boxes” instead of seeing them for the full richness of who they are.

He also said that our human identities are partly shared and partly unique. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. learned a great deal from Mahatma Gandhi, who in turn was inspired by Leo Tolstoy—indicating a merger of three strikingly different cultures.

Using story-telling, Hitendra addressed basic questions like:

  • How do we integrate our (partially hidden) inner and outer selves?

  • Who am I, really?

  • What’s my purpose in the universe?

He said that what many psychologists believe they “discover” is actually not new, but based on ancient wisdom, like the practice of gratitude in meditation, and shifting your mindsets, and tuning in to your capacity for compassion and kindness, and finding the best of yourself.

Rhonda and I want to thank Hitendra for his journey and wonderful new book, and all of you as well for tuning in and joining us on our journey!


Rhonda, Hitendra, and David