This Master Class is offered in partnership with Columbia Business School Executive Education. You will receive a Certificate of Completion by IPL & Columbia.

Success Principles for Life & Leadership

Domain: science of self


Click on the play button above to watch a video excerpt from this class.

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Apply Transformational Principles to Forge Success in Life and Leadership

How have certain people achieved distinctive success in life and leadership? This class sheds a unique and powerful light on this topic by crystallizing a number of success principles that great leaders have actively but silently pursued, and that, while initially invisible, are within reach for all of us.  Some of these principles will find immediate resonance with you, and some will surprise you.  

Five Core Principles for Leadership: Most leaders do not step back from their everyday roles to forge a clear viewpoint on what it means for them to “lead”. Is leadership a highly individual pursuit or are there universal laws on how to get the best out of others? How does your approach to leadership relate to what your strengths and weaknesses are? Why are you drawn to leading others? How can you lead when you simply don’t have the authority to do so? This class invites you to consider five principles that could provide you a powerful foundation for your leadership journey.  

The Power of Paradox: We often look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories. A colleague is either “good” or they are “bad”, you are either “angry” or you are “calm”, a strategy is either a “success” or a “failure”. But what if we were to step away from this binary logic and embraced the truth in completely opposing thoughts, values, traits, beliefs or emotions? This class shows you how great achievers through the ages have stepped up their game in life and leadership by quietly cultivating the powerful discipline of paradox. Through a combination of great leader anecdotes and scientific findings, this class sheds light on the power of paradox and introduces you to tools you can use to master this discipline. 

How to Succeed by Not Trying – The Principle of Non-Attachment: We have all been encouraged from a very early age to set goals for ourselves in life and to pursue them passionately. This, we have been told, is the recipe for success. Then why is it that many successful people through history have taken the opposite approach, of disavowing any attachment to goals? This class will reveal seven scientific arguments, for why in fact non-attachment to your goals can catapult you to greater success in life and leadership. You will also get practical guidance on how to cultivate a practice of non-attachment.

Simplicity – The Secret to Success in a Complex World: In today's fast-paced, complex and ever-changing world, we are often confronted with the need to have, and to do, more of everything - launch more products, add more features, operate in more cultures, learn more languages, read more books, follow more people on Twitter, network with more people...more, more, more. But what if the secret to success in life and leadership lies in doing a 180-degree turn and going down the opposite path of having, and doing, less rather than more? This class will demonstrate how Simplicity has in fact been the cornerstone of success for great achievers in history. You will learn 5 Principles of Simplicity and a number of practical tools that can help you cultivate this enriching practice in your own path in life and leadership.  

What You Will Learn

  • A number of leadership principles that have the potential of transforming your approach to life and leadership
  • Practical guidance on how you can put these leadership principles into practice
  • Analyses and stories that show how these principles have played a central role in the success of great leaders throughout history

Course Structure 
This IPL-Columbia Master Class offers you the opportunity to go on a focused 6-week learning journey to gain mastery over a particular personal leadership topic. Scientific insights and tools are supplemented with a strong dose of practice and personal integration.  

  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Time Required: 2 hours per week
  • Self-paced, high-quality video lectures and interactive exercises 
  • Opportunity to connect and discuss with a global community of executive participants
  • IPL’s proprietary myPL mobile learning platform for convenient on-the-go access
  • Certificate of Completion from the Institute for Personal Leadership & Columbia Business School Executive Education.
  • Access to the IPL toolbox – tools, templates, and frameworks


Success Principles for Life & Leadership is based on IPL’s scientific learning system, integrating breakthrough research in psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, sociology, medicine and psychotherapy, a rigorous study of great leaders and organizations, and a practical toolkit to drive tangible improvement in your personal leadership skills. 

This online course is taught by Prof. Hitendra Wadhwa, Professor of Practice at Columbia Business School and Founder of the Institute for Personal Leadership. You can read his bio on the Columbia website or here on the IPL Founder’s page.

The [Science of Self] series blew my mind! I feel like a new person, who now has the key tools to live a better life. No other course I have ever taken has gone so deep or focused so much on the inner life of a person. I expected this course to improve my performance at work as a leader, when in fact it has made me a better person. It has been a gift. I’d like to see every high school senior have this course before they graduate so they are armed with such incredible life tools!
— Tobee Phipps, Senior Manager, WGBH
Tobee Phipps

Tobee Phipps

The [Science of Self] series offered excellent content. The way the content was delivered – through an online platform but with such a personal touch – was incredible.
— Carolina Menezes, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young
Caroline Menezes

Caroline Menezes