The Alchemist is one of the best-selling books of all time, millions of copies sold worldwide – and for good reason! It’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in my life and it helped me in the most difficult time of my life. Here’s my take on it.
About the Book
The book tells the story of Santiago, a young boy and his “personal legend” – That is, his journey and life’s mission. Santiago is drawn to leave his current life behind, and go on an adventure to find a hidden treasure somewhere far, far away. During his journey Santiago faces many difficulties but also finds allies during his quest.
This story is a parable to our own life, how we all have a life purpose, and how we must pursue it or we will lose it forever. Paulo says that once we abandon our “personal legend”, once we ignore our inner voice, we lose our mission forever and we never get it back.
One of the most tragic parts of the story was when Santiago meets the baker’s son, who also became a baker. The son never wanted to be a baker, but because his dad and his grandfather were bakers they pressured him to become a baker as well. The son then loses his personal legend, he never goes on his journey to find his life purpose. Instead, he’s unhappy with the choice he made.
Sadly, most people in life aren’t like Santiago, and they’re more like the baker’s son. Most people never give themselves permission to pursue their dreams. Instead what happens is that they surrender to social pressure and choose the “Safe route”. They become doctors, lawyers, programmers etc. because that’s what their parents wanted them to be. They go to university for years, spend thousands of dollars learning to become something that they never wanted to be in the first place.
Two quotes come to mind when thinking about the book:
“Success with fulfillment is the Ultimate failure – Tony Robbins”
“One of lives greatest tragedies is mastering the wrong thing”
But what Paulo is trying to tell us, that we can be anyone we want to be, and we see how Santiago grows and evolves during this adventure. It’s beautiful to read about.
How this book changed my life
I read this book after I finished high school. In Israel, where I’m from, there’s mandatory 3-year military service after high school and pretty much everyone goes. Most of my friends did, and for a while I thought I wanted to go as well. I even got accepted in a very lucrative position as a programmer in the intelligence unit. Everyone were really happy and my parents were very proud.
But as time went by I started to have a hunch, you know, the feeling inside when something is not right, the little voice in your head whispering that this isn’t for you. At first I ignored it, but over time it got stronger and stronger.
Long story short, I ended up telling my parents I don’t want to go to the army. In Israel, it’s a big deal and a social taboo. You can imagine they weren’t happy at all at first. I told them I wanted to start an online business and travel the world. I wasn’t making a dime online at the time, I was just a kid with big dreams.
They started putting a lot of pressure on me to change my mind and go to the army, along with my sisters and my relatives and most of my friends. Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy time of my life. I was depressed, I went to see psychologists, the first girl I dated in my life told me that it wasn’t cool that I’m not going to the army. And my first online business wasn’t making any money (yet).
Through all this mess I read the book. Honestly, it was a gift from god and it couldn’t come at a better time. This book gave me the encouragement to follow my heart and keep chasing my personal legend. I remember seeing all these random signs from the universe during my day to day, all telling me that the military service wasn’t for me and that I should pursue my other interests and passions. It was a little spooky how often I’ve seen the signs, it was in a random conversation I overheard, or a billboard advertisement I saw on the highway, or an interview of one of my role models. Everything was pointing me in the same direction –> drop the army and pursue your personal legend.
I ended up following my heart and got dropped from the army after more than a year of trying to get released. It was difficult, but boy oh boy was it worth it.
This book changed the course of my life and I haven’t looked back since. If you’re unsure what direction to take your life in, then I highly recommend you read the book. It’ll do you only good. Paulo is an amazing writer and this book changed countless of lives for the better.
You can get the book on amazon here.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below! I love reading and responding to them.
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