Beauty comes from within—a phrase we often hear to motivate us when insecurities attack. But there’s more to it than what we often think. In this episode, Hitendra Wadhwa, educator, speaker, and founder of the Mentora Institute, takes us deeper within. He talks about the five core energies and how activating your Inner Core can lead to a life with Purpose, Wisdom, Growth, Love, and Self-Realization. So tune in and get insights on how you can tap your inner strengths and reach your full potential.
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Activating Your Inner Core And The Five Core Energies To Success With Hitendra Wadhwa
I am here with Dr. Hitendra Wadhwa, who is an educator, speaker, and Founder of the Mentora Foundation, which helps organizations grow their purpose, people, and performance. He is the author of Inner Mastery, Outer Impact, which is based on his fifteen-year journey into researching and teaching scientific principles of success in life and leadership. I am so excited to have you here, Hitendra. Welcome.
Thank you. It’s a great pleasure to be with you and your audience here.
I was looking forward to this because there is a lot that we have interests in common and our good friend Mike Dulworth introduced us who is amazing, and he’s a super-connected and an interesting man. I could talk about that for hours. I’m interested in how you brought a mathematical background to what you’ve done, and also the fact that you teach this super popular course where you’ve won all these awards in the MBA program.
Since I used to be an MBA Program Chair, I love that we have all these unique background qualities in common. I want to get your backstory because this is obviously a very important book, and thank you for sending me my copy. It’s so great because I love how it ties into a lot of the research I do. I want to get into that but let’s get a background on you for everybody who’s reading, who may not be familiar with your work yet.
Back down memory lane for me. When I was quite young, I had maybe two passions. One was math. I was fond of theory, perfection, pattern recognition, and the search for truth. Math was a pathway for me because everything in math is so logical and black and white. The proofs take you to a place of definite conviction about things but sometimes it’s hard to find in the real world.
On the other hand, I have grown to be drawn to mysticism, which is what life is about. What is my relationship with humanity and the universe? Who am I? I continue in consciousness. Continue after one dies and things like that. The more mystical questions about life. In some ways, that’s also a search for truth, and I wanted to get the same level of mathematical rigor, precision, and clarity to those questions as well.While your soul may be eternal, in this life, there are opportunities that are in front of you that only happen once. Would you want to squander that opportunity? Click To Tweet
One became much more of an inner pursuit for me, the mystic, spiritual investigation, partly through reading the scriptures across great bits and tapping into this spirit of India. Very old culture. Experimenting with a bit of meditation. Part of it was an outer quest. Me, which was I’m good at math. I enjoy it. It’s stimulating. It’s something that people look up to you in India.
Let’s continue to pursue that to its ultimate limit. That translated into wanting to go on to do graduate studies and quantitative discipline because I saw myself in that time. I also wanted to connect with society. On to my honors in Mathematics in college, I ended up gravitating towards a PhD in Business, but with an analytic bent because I was still seeing myself moderately as a mathematician.
It was only after that I started to move beyond the outside the mathematical domains to take on a career path more than strategy and entrepreneurship for a while. By that time, I was in my early to mid-30s, and now I’m starting to feel a little bit dry from within because I realized I have this other quest of expanding and understanding to the fullest, “What is my potential? Who am I? What is that relationship that I need to have in life and humanity and all of that?”
That part was not immediately getting nurtured much in my outer affairs. That’s when I put life on pause a little bit. I slowed things down and decided not to jump into the next chapter in my career but go, revisit and connect with certain portions like spiritual retreats and reconnect with several months that I have known over the years and deepen and make more days my meditation discipline.
The time of great moment for me. What emerged in that period in my mid-30s was a greater appreciation for how to bring the inner and outer worlds together to integrate, harmonize, and ultimately seek to make what I’m doing on the outside. Nothing but a natural, authentic expression of who I was on the inside.
It made me do a career pivot. I moved more into the space of studying human potential, on the outside, not just my potential but my potential more broadly. I saw very immediate applications of that since I was in the business world in leadership and organizational culture. It became a lens through which I have sought to help contribute to and advance our understanding of how to show up as leaders and professionals and build high-performing teams and cultures. It’s all come together but in a very non-linear. Now I see that I have learned mathematics. It gave me a foundation. It gave me an appreciation for logic and pattern recognition and beauty, structure, and relationships. I’m striving to bring that now to the bill of leadership.
That’s great because it brings me back to when I started studying curiosity. I wanted to quantify things that I hadn’t seen quantified before. It’s hard to do that with behaviors and things that lead to success. I was very interested in what you were doing because I have done that with curiosity or perception and different things I have worked on.
It’s a challenge sometimes to get these things and say, “This is exactly how you measure it or how you decide if things are getting better or worse.” I enjoy that. I have had Daniel Goleman on my show since I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. It was great to talk to him about that because they did that with emotional intelligence, and that’s a hard thing. That’s a squishy thing.
You and I are talking about these squishy soft-skill things. You have this background in math, you’ve worked as a Consultant at McKinsey, which is super about these kinds of things as well, and working at Columbia. You have this great background. I appreciate you sharing that with me. I have seen your work in Forbes, Fortune, CNN, and Psychology Today. You have been there in Wall Street Journal. All the best and brightest have featured what you’ve done.
I’m very interested in your latest book, Inner Mastery, Outer Impact. What I found interesting because I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing because I just got it but you touch on these five major areas, these core energies as you call them, for your key to success. I don’t know if you want to go through one at a time because I know you add not only living with purpose, for example, the first one but then you add leading with purpose as an addition to each one of these and leading with every one of these five things. You’ve got living and leading with these five issues, and I want to know how you narrowed it down to five and if you want to touch on each of those five real quick because I would find them very interesting for everybody.
The idea here is that for us to manifest our full potential, we have to start seeing ourselves more than behaviors on the outside, what we are saying and doing. It’s coming back to the language of measurement. We tend to then measure ourselves on the basis of those constructs. “What did I say? What did I do? Was it the right thing to say? Was it the right thing to do? Why am I struggling in this relationship? How can I become better at influencing these people or more effective as a speaker or what have you?” Those are the outer expressions of what, from the inside, is all energy within us.
When we think about measurement, I would also invite us, as I’m introducing these energies for us, to think about inner measures, not outer measures. I called them the inner metrics, and the inner metrics are, in some ways, not as visible perhaps to the outside world but they are very salient to us. We connect from within that our own energies and our voice with them. We can start to measure whether we are showing up in the right way in any situation with these energies.You and I are always a work in progress. There is more to discover and unlock in terms of our potential. Our character or personality is subject to evolution and change. Click To Tweet
Those energies are our purpose. Then purpose is about making sure that everything you do has a very clear why to it. A very pure and positive intention to it. Every conversation, project, every day when you wake up, every step that you take in your career in life, personal or professional, should have a deep connection with you that you have, that I’m paving my paths to a life where I live. What is that end that I’m seeking, and what is the service that I’m on to offer to my community, team, family, and the world at large? How is what I’m doing being informed and inspired and guided by that? That’s the purpose energy.
The second is visible, and this is about striving to find the truth in all matters because you can have the greatest of intentions. You do the noblest of work but if you are deluded in some ways about what’s right and what’s wrong, and why someone is not relating in the right way with you or what’s the right direction to take as the world, suddenly downscale.
If you are being done in ways that blindside you by your emotions, distorted thoughts or a limiting belief, then this best of intentions will get waylaid, and you are not going to arrive at the place you want it to. Wisdom is about taking the responsibility to operate, as one historian once said about Abraham Lincoln, with a clear mental lens. With a sense of objectivity, dispassion, balance, and attunement of the truth.
I would like to ask you a little bit more about that because my last book was on perception, which ties into a lot of this. Dr. Maja Zelihic and I co-wrote the book, and what we looked at was perception as a process. You evaluate, predict, interpret, and correlate to come up with these conclusions but this is all impacted by IQ or EQ. Your Cultural Quotient CQ and your Curiosity Quotient, how much do you ask about this.
In this wisdom aspect of what you’ve written about. It’s a lot tying into the kinds of perceptions that we have. Our perception is our reality. To build on whether we know we have the correct answers or viewpoint, we must build that empathy to understand somebody else’s viewpoint by asking questions, curiosity, and all that. How do you think you can tell if you’ve got the perception that’s accurate or not?
I offer a few ideas and thoughts on that and the book. One is that any time we encounter a belief that is opposite or different from ours. It’s a wonderful discipline to not immediately seek to defend our own belief, to reject that belief but instead to try to fuse opposites. Try to find something that you can be inspired by and draw from that opposing belief to create a more nuanced and a greater, deeper understanding of truth than what your belief may have had, and I will give an example.
In my case, I believe in reincarnation, and I believe that the soul migrates from one life to another life and continues to do that until we finally arrive at a place of Nirvana, enlightenment or the ultimate connection with the universe in a pure and beautiful way and so you keep getting pulled back. Someone else may have the opposite belief, which is that you are as body and you only live once. Once the body’s purpose is done, it’s gone, and that’s it.
For the longest time, even though I believe in reincarnation ended up taking a little bit more of a complacent view towards advancing, growing, and investing in my meditation discipline, among other things. I felt like I have worked an eternity to go and play this game. If not this life, the next life. Let me enjoy this life. I will be relaxed until now, and I can always come back to the next life and work on those goals, which I know ultimately, I want to get to.
By incorporating the truth in what the other person’s belief is, which is that you only live once. I was able to reach the following conclusion that, “While your soul may be eternal, you in this role as Hitendra, this value of people playing this role in their lives now. In this state of the world that you are living in now, maybe be opportunities that are in front of you now that are only happening once. That’s not coming again.”
Would you want to squander that opportunity? Would you want this life to go by and look back and regret that this was a very special life that you had and chapter and you didn’t take full advantage of it? Would you like to say like this is only happening once, and I want to take full advantage of it? Some people say you only live once. I would say you only live this life once. With that a little bit of a tweak, I can bring in a fusion between that opposing position and my position, and it gives me a healthy sense of urgency, responsibility, and accountability over this life. That’s an example of where you are.
Regardless of where you are, you’ve never arrived. With regard to your full mastery of over truth, there’s always the opportunity to take an opposing idea or belief and be humble enough to experiment but borrowing something from that idea that might be the spend of that idea and integrating it. You don’t have to abandon your belief but you can enhance it, so that’s one.
The other thing I would offer is the emphasis I’m offering in the book about listening to your inner voice. Science is making great strides, and yet science still is very bounded in how much you can tell us. Look at that science of hundreds of years ago. Regardless now, that’s how much progress we have made and how many ideas later are being debunked now. The same is going to happen 100 years from now, and you don’t even look back and say, “Science would be already playing with the first century. What were you guys thinking?”Love is about seeing yourself as part of the whole of the universe. And there's a relationship between every part and the whole. Click To Tweet
There were so much more things that we discovered over the next hundred years. That’s the case. We can trust it but we can’t fully trust it. We know it’s a work in progress. Who are you going to trust? I offered the thought that you know, and I know that then we are at the calmness place within us. We are taking a walk in nature. We are in a very reflective place. We pull back a little bit from the times, emotions, and things that are getting us very embroiled in that crazy fabric of life.
We start to think more clearly and feel good within. Want to be good, see good, engage with good. Our own inner voice can then more actively guide us as to where our perceptions are getting distorted and where they are a little bit more open and real to us. The one other piece I’m going to offer is the inner discipline it takes, which has not been as actively. I would offer to study, for example, things like behavioral economics. Psychology is starting to do more justice to it, to mindfulness and meditation like practice studies, that we have not outer sources of information and inside but inner sources. Steadiness is also within, and it opens us up more to tuning into them. What do you think of that?
Interestingly, you bring it up because when I was researching what inhibited curiosity, there were four things. There were fear, assumptions, technology, and the environment. The assumption is that inner monologue that we have that tells us we get to like something or not like something that’s done in the past. I didn’t like it. How do we recognize when our inner voice tells us something that may be limits us?
I’ll tell you a story. I share that. It’s in the final chapter of the book. This was the question asked by an American journalist to Gandhi, “Who is a key proponent of this idea of listening to your inner voice?” He himself spoke about how so many of his major political moves came because he was guided by that inner voice.
The journalist who had known that about Gandhi asks him and he says, “There are so many individuals out there who would claim that they do have that inner voice, and yet we know that some of these people are massively diluted. They have illusions of grandeur and do some pretty messed-up things in the world. How do you know when your inner voice is right versus wrong? Is it the case that you first have to have that conviction, and then you surrender to that voice? How does it work?”
Gandhi looked at him. He says, “Gandhi looked at me, and they are like, ‘What? To all these interactions you and I have been having, is this the level of misunderstanding you have about what I’m trying to say?’” He was in shock. Those are just his facial expression. “This is what Gandhi said to me, ‘It is the complete opposite. It is not that you must first be convinced that it’s your true inner voice, and then you surrender to it. You first surrender, and then you will know that it’s the inner voice.’”
This is a powerful idea that you find in all the great traditions of the world. The great pains of the world. This notion of non-attachment to outcome, this notion of surrender. You have to surrender your ego, hunger, and desires. Your desire to prove that you are the smartest person in the room. Your insecurities. All those things you have to surrender.
When you surrender them and can open yourself up to say, “Nature and spirit, give me the truth in whichever form it has to come to me. It may be uncomfortable for me to hear because maybe I’m supposed to walk out of this relationship. Maybe I’m to take more personal responsibility for the struggle that I have been blaming society for what’s happening, not myself. I don’t know what the truth is but whatever it is, I surrender. I’m open.” That capacity to surrender, to me, is very beautiful.
What I liked is the wording that non-attachment to outcome because that’s what I’m trying to get with getting people out of status quo thinking with the curiosity improvement. People ask me how I define curiosity, and to me, I’m working with working people about this. This is not going a new way to work, taking a different drive, or something that curiosity. I’m talking about it at work, getting out of doing the same things because we have always done them this way.
We do get this attachment to the outcome. I have talked to project managers, and they have this outcome. They have to get at this particular time and way, and if they don’t do it, they don’t want to get off track. Sometimes you have the opportunity cost of what you missed by not getting off track by exploring.
I’m open to this exploration within reason to keep people towards this goal. I love that. The wisdom was great because that ties into everything we are talking about here. I know we have got three more, and I want to make sure we get to them all before we end the show because we have got living with growth, love, and self-realization. Let’s talk about growth. Does this tie into what we have been talking about? In terms of wisdom, growth is about exploring as well.
Yes. The growth, I feel, is enabling energy for all the other four. Growth is the idea that you and I have always been a work in progress. There is always more to discover and unlock in terms of our potential that our character or personality. Any aspect of what you think you are is subject to evolution and change.
It’s about getting closer to more consistently expressing who you are at your core. That’s a key integrated idea in the book. This notion that when each of us lies in the inner core, space or highest potential of self, beyond ego, attachment, and insecurity is and can very freely act with wisdom, purpose, love, and self-realization without being in any way locked in by habits or impulsive. Just get in and out of that space.
Growth is about every day that I can do a little something to get myself closer to that inner core and more consistently express it in all we do. Love is the next energy and is about seeing yourself as part of the whole and the whole of the universe. There’s a relationship in every part in the whole, and it’s about taking joy in the collective joy of humanity. The collective joy of your family, community, organization or customers.
Taking joy in others’ joy and finding success and others’ have success. All of us are interdependent and interconnected. It’s a complete myth, this idea of the self-made woman or self-made man. Right from the point of conception and beyond, there were a lot of parties that contributed to making you and me who we are now. That’s a lot of energy. As Rudy once said, “Love is the bridge between you and everything.” Having an active connection with the heart.
Then the fifth and final self-actualization is about opening ourselves up to the realization that beyond a sensory sense of identity that we have with who we are in our life experience from the outside, this such sites on and all that. Beyond thoughts and emotions on the inside, there’s a part of who you are, which is your consciousness and spirit. It’s the most still and tranquil part of who you are. You start to access that which all of us, from time to time, we do touch that part of who we are. It could be through a walk in nature or conversation with somebody who inspires us or meditation or prayer like that. There’s chanting or things like that.
When we do access it, we start to feel amazed. I’m already whole from within. All these psychological and emotional hunger that was wanting to be loved, appreciated, and recognized, felt fulfilled from the outside. That is what my core identity is from the inside. As we nurture and develop that, the more as leaders we can show up in the world to say, “How can I serve? How can I support? What am I meant to do at this moment to manifest for the universe?” It’s because I’m grateful for what I have within, and I’m here to now offer my best self to go wherever else.
You asked me how I came up with these five. The best I can do are two things. Broadly speaking and a social understanding of life and ourselves, mind, body, heart, and spirit. If you take that paradigm that we all know about generally. The body is the doer part of who we are, and that’s purpose. Mind is the wisdom part of who we are, and heart is the love part of who we are, and spirit is the centralization part. Growth, to me, is like enabling energy.
When I was studying both curiosity and perception, I did factor analysis to figure out these factors. I had to go to your math mind, which is not my go-to normally. Even though I’m very logical, I’m not crazy about the Statistics classes I had to take in the past. I got back into looking at these things, and some of the factors tie in so well to what you are talking about here for curiosity as well. When you were talking about love, basically that tied into the environment factor of I thought what impacted us on curiosity.
It’s basically the environment. My definition was all the people with whom you’ve had interactions. You mentioned that all those people impact you. That all ties into what I saw. I wanted to also say, I’m going to be talking to this micro-society group that deals with educators, and we were talking, and she asked me how I thought curiosity tied into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and self-realization and self-actualization. I should say. I’m curious about how much you’ve looked at something like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or other factors and other models when you looked at this.
I love the cross-connections you are forming with curiosity. I want to study more of that. We need curiosity so much now with all the evolution and change, and the assertiveness that people are having about what’s right and what’s wrong versus a curious mind. Kudos for all these great works that you have been doing and continue to pursue.
What’s interesting is that Maslow is popularly understood to have developed this pyramid that goes from the more basic needs to the more advanced to the ultimate self-actualization but that’s not where you start. Perhaps you might know. He ended up concluding that there was a state which went beyond self-actualization and called it self-transcendence. Self-actualization, the way he described it, was like, for example, if you manifest your full potential in a particular profession, it seems like in his model, self-actualization, you are the greatest painter, scientist or what have you.
It’s a little bit more self-centered. It’s more about your own self. That was the quest that I was on for a large part of my teens and twenties. I wanted to be the best mathematician or I wanted to be the McKinsey but I wanted to be like the best business thinker. At some point, it starts to get very constrictive. I’m not saying that people who are mathematicians at McKinsey are constrictive. I’m saying that if the reason you are there is that you want to feel special, that you are the best at something.
It’s constricted if it’s not something that connects you with humanity, the planet, with life at large, nature or the universe. It’s beautiful like he himself, that the ultimate state of human potential is where the human being transcends, as he called it like his own self. He said at that point, your relationship with everything, with society, and yourself gets transformed into something quite different from what it has been until then. I love that idea, and that, to me, is the ultimate peak of the mountaintop of this journey that we are all on.
That’s great, and sometimes we get too narrowly focused either on ourselves or at work. We get in our cubicle or in our silos. My goal is to get people to think much more broadly. I love the book range of people who are doing well because they get all these different ideas from different things. Maybe it’s ballet or something else completely different from whatever it is that you do. That’s one of the greater books out there to expand your thinking that you don’t need to do this.
I love what you are writing and what you’ve written here, and there’s so much to be learned from this. Thank you so much for sharing this. Many people are going to learn so much from you. How can they get more information from you or get your book or find out more? Do you have some site, links, or anything that you want to share?
Thank you. It has been a real joy to spend this time with you and all core up to what we put together for your readers. My personal website is Hitendra.com. I have a newsletter you can sign up for, and there’s the book. For any of us in leadership roles interested in wanting to dive into Inner Mastery, Outer Impact, and what it can do for cultures and for advancing leadership development organizations. I started an institute several years ago called Mentora Institute.
We have also started a nonprofit called Mentora Foundation, which we are seeking to help support the world at this moment of a great time by building changemakers for a new age. If any of you are drawn to what it takes to prepare ourselves to be responsible agents of change. Then perhaps Mentora Foundation might provide some ideas and thoughts. I’m very grateful to be part of this conversation. All the best to all of your readers. Thank you for having me on the show.
This was my pleasure. This was so wonderful, and we will be back.
- Mentora Foundation
- Inner Mastery, Outer Impact
- Daniel Goleman – Past episode
- Mentora Institute
About Hitendra Wadhwa
Hitendra Wadhwa is an Educator, Speaker, and Founder of the Mentora Foundation, which helps organizations grow their purpose, people, and performance. He is the author of Inner Mastery, Outer Impact which is based on his 15-year journey into researching and teaching scientific principles of success in life and leadership. He brings a mathematician’s rigor and a truth-seeker’s spirit to some of today’s most vexing questions about authenticity, success, leadership, human potential, and more. His work on leadership have been covered by Inc., Forbes, Fortune, CNN, Psychology Today, BBC World Service, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal. His webcast, Intersections, features acclaimed thought leaders and practitioners in the craft of leadership.
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