The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is widely considered one of the most influential books ever created. Every page includes nuggets of wisdom that can help shape our understanding of the world around us and inspire us to follow our dreams.
Set mainly in North Africa, the story follows a young shepherd, Santiago, who believes that his destiny is to find a hidden treasure at the base of a pyramid in Egypt. His journey is long and tumultuous, but he learns about life and his connection to the world along the way.
The book is set in a mystical alternative past. Still, it breathes newfound motivation in every reader since its release in 1988. Will Smith, Bill Clinton, Oprah, Anthony Robbins, Kobe Bryant, and many other influential individuals rave about the lasting impact it has made on their lives. One quote embodies the essence of success in the book better than any other.
“And what went wrong when other alchemists tried to make gold and were unable to do so? They were looking only for gold… They were seeking the treasure of their personal legend without wanting actually to live out the personal legend.”
1. Follow Your Passion Above All Else
Your calling, passion, dream life, or whatever you call it, is at the center of this quote. In the book, it’s called your “personal legend.” It’s deeper than just something that you enjoy doing. Instead, it’s a feeling.
In the book, the universe conspires with you to make your dream life come true. It sends constant messages and reminders that it’s out there for the taking. But if you ignore it for too long, the universe will stop calling out as most people do. In the book, just like in life, the extraordinary individuals are willing to listen and follow the signs.
There’s a correlation between those who act and others who settle for what they’re “dealt.” Your personal legend is that nagging itch that causes you to daydream. It’s the constant tug at your shirt that you need to head in a different direction. It is the one thing that keeps you up at night. It’s the reason for your being.
As perpetrated by the quote and book, the first step to making your dream life is to follow your personal legend. Beginning the journey is the hardest part. Let the universe guide your path early on.
Once you start on your path towards your dream life, be prepared for many obstacles. Those obstacles may require sacrifices on your part, but they are worthy of reaching your end goal. No matter what, you have to commit to living out your personal legend.
2. Live Like an Alchemist
In the book, an alchemist is a mysterious, highly-coveted anomaly in the human race. They seemingly possess “mystical powers.” Unlike almost all other individuals, they connect with the universe and build a constant better understanding of the world around them. They travel with an open mind, listen with an open heart, and exude resounding confidence. They took their first step towards their personal legend and never looked back.
Many people attempt to become an alchemist in the book, but they quit because it’s too hard. Others admire them for achieving something they couldn’t fathom. Even in our world, we want to be them.
You can’t become an alchemist without being flexible. Whether you had to adjust to an unforeseen circumstance or your journey is paused to enjoy the beauty of life, you focus on the present. No one can turn back time. Every moment deserves your undivided attention and is an equally important aspect of the journey you are on. If you spend all of your time singularly focused on your dream, you miss out on life.
The biggest takeaway from alchemists is that they never gave up on their personal legend no matter where life took them.
3. Dream Lives Are Never Achieved by Chasing Gold
The most obvious focus of the quote is in regards to gold. In the capitalistic society we live in, monetary riches dominate much of our decision-making, including following our dream lives. The fear of losing money or not making enough is crippling. It can ruin a personal legend or make the path much more difficult to follow.
In the book, Santiago meets another character hell-bent on becoming an alchemist. His aim is gold. When the character meets a real alchemist, he learns that he’d never achieved his “dream” because his heart is in the wrong place. The same is true for our dreams.
Often, we find ourselves distracted by money. We see all of the celebrities mentioned above driving expensive cars and spending their time in extravagant places, forgetting that they reached their personal legends. If any of them focused purely on money, they wouldn’t be where they are.
I fell into the trap of following a path only for the potential of gold. It resulted in the biggest failure of my career (both monetarily and in regards to time spent). You can’t skip any steps along the path of your personal legend. If you aren’t willing to put hard work into making your dream a reality without any money tied to it, you’re either traveling down the wrong path or will never succeed.
Riches will be abundant when you are willing to give all you can to your personal legend. As a wise man once said, “The work that you put in in the dark makes you shine brightest in the light.”
Your Personal Legend is Calling
Follow your passion above all else and be willing to make sacrifices. Live in the moment, but don’t keep your eyes off of your goals. Be ready to work hard without pay; the money will come later. Your dream life awaits you.