No matter how awesome I am, no matter hard I practice, how far I climb.. no matter how convinced I am that I’ve mastered something, inevitably something shows up in my way, derails my success, bursts my balloon…

Turns out, nothing is ever as good, or as bad, as it seems and the same things that knock me down also lift me back up and protect me from other parts of myself.

My ego is especially prone to tripping, it seems when it flares up, obstacles show up in a hurry, like an army ready to protect the world from my foolishness.

I’ve recognized over time that certain hindrances seem to always emerge…  in my personal life, in my spiritual life and definitely in my business life.



Turns out, I’m not alone.  There’s been lots of research on hindrances, the things that seem to always emerge and stop us from achieving success, happiness or whatever it is we’re after.

The dictionary defines a hindrance like this:

hin·drance ˈhindrəns/ noun | a thing that provides resistance, delay, or obstruction to something or someone.

Deep wisdom people define it like this:

Negative mental states that impede our mindfulness and lead us toward unwholesome action.

And business people have defined it like this:

Mental states that impede success.

I don’t think your hindrances are necessarily mine, I suspect we all have different things that emerge over and over again and derail us.

What triggers me might not trigger you—our paths aren’t the same.

However, the pattern many people have found certainly resonates with me:

1. Sensory desire: the particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and physical feeling.

2. Ill will: all kinds of thought related to wanting to reject, feelings of hostility, resentment, hatred and bitterness.

3. Sloth: heaviness of body and dullness of mind, which drags one down into disabling inertia and thick depression.

4. Restlessness-worry: the inability to calm the mind.

5.Doubt: lack of conviction or trust.

I really connect with all of these.

I can’t imagine I’ve gone 24 hours without experiencing one or most.

When I think about business and professional success, I notice that hindrances show up double time in this arena.

In many ways, the above 5 play into everything I do professionally…  if I’ve got ill-will towards someone or something it’s hard to move forward and make things work out.  When I transform the bad feelings, everything else often sorts itself out for the higher good of all.

Could business success be as simple (yet as painfully difficult) as identifying and transforming the hindrances that get in our way?

I think so…  and I’m not alone.   I discovered a brilliant woman with an MBA, Maria Gonzalez, who’s doing amazing work in this area.

She identifies the 5 hindrances that derail success like this:

1. Attachment is a fixation or unrelenting drive to succeed, to acquire, to compete, or to control. It is an inability to let go or see other alternatives.

2. Aversion is a fear of losing possessions, market standing, financial resources, social position, or even an argument, leading to poor decisions.

3. Ignorance, confusion, and delusion cause people to avoid seeing reality for what it is. Ignorance is a result of unfounded beliefs or views, causing a lack of clarity. Confusion occurs when someone is unaware of something. Delusion results when someone rejects reality based on particular biases.

4. Envy and jealousy have their basis in a person’s deep insecurity and desire for what others have. They make people think that they are incomplete and that satisfaction and fulfillment lie outside of themselves.

5. Pride appears in two forms: people with superior pride think, “I am better than you” and need to win all the time to feel worthy; people with inferior pride think, “You are better than me,” tending to be copycats and follow trends, afraid they will be left out.

I’ve been in business a long time and worked with thousands of people.

I’ve had the amazing fortune of seeing up close what works and what doesn’t and I’ve learned thru all this experience that these hindrances are nearly universal—at the root of all struggle, pain and failure I find these core issues resurfacing again and again.

I’ve spent a long time painting a house that was on a faulty foundation.  Now, I’m much more interested in taking care of the foundation, my foundation, first.

Over time, I have begun to recognize what my triggers are—I’ve sat in silence long enough now to see when they emerge and slowly follow the trail back to the root causes of my craziness.

Mostly, I’ve not had to do much else— for me, an honest examination and awareness is an intense remedy.

With it I can move to action, developing tools and skill that guides me away from what doesn’t serve me and towards what does.

It’s as if awareness transforms the hindrance… proving once again that awareness really is the beginning and the end.

Ajahn Sumedho says “in meditation one develops an understanding of the Five Hindrances — how, when one of them is present, you investigate it, you understand it, you accept its presence and you learn how to deal with it. Sometimes you can just tell it to go away and it goes; sometimes you just have to allow it to be there till it wears out.”

Gil Fronsdal says, “to be a good student of the hindrances, you must be very patient with them and not be dismissive of them. When they arise, you must stop for them. You don’t indulge them, you become interested and study them.”

I came across this great simple formula to use when I notice my hindrances showing up and derailing me:


R: Recognize it.

A: Accept it.

I: Investigate it, be curious. What is it like?

N: Non-identification. This is just a passing process that comes and goes, not who we are.




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