You see this little book in the picture? This seemingly story-like, shallow, “I wonder what in earth this book is talking about” kinda book? This “what and who is an alchemist” looking kinda book? This only 100-and-something pages of a seemingly simple story kinda book? Yes. This one. This book is ah-ma-zing!
I know I always say this about almost all the books I have read, but really…this book is everything. Since I got a copy, I have read it twice and each time, my mind expanded and welcomed new perspectives to the book and its contents.
Then imagine hearing other people speak to this little book on their perspectives and get blown away by all the lessons that could be learned from same. Well, this happened at the last book club meet of the book club I belong to this past Saturday where we discussed highlights of and take-aways from the book.
I think that if there is one book anyone should read in life (other than The Four Agreements and a couple others I would gladly recommend)…okay fine, if you were to read three books in this life, The Alchemist should definitely be one of them. It is that great a book!
The Alchemist delivers powerful, simple yet profound lessons and truths in daily living, following your dreams and expanding the horizons of one’s mind. The book follows the story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago who is determined to find a treasure at the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream about same. So he starts out on his journey to Egypt and along the way, meets different personalities and situations which teach him lessons on life. He is also able to expand his mind and thoughts and learn from these circumstances; some fortunate and others not so fortunate.
I would not delve into the end of the book and whether or not he found the sought after treasure- lest I spoil it for some of you, but instead I will briefly share some (because they are just too many) of the unforgettable and valuable lessons I learned:
Follow your heart
We all have personal dreams, goals and things we would love to see come to reality. These things are buried deep in our hearts and the more we try to shove them aside, the more they burn within us to be realized. So you may look around your environment, analyse your background, doubt your capabilities and fill your head with doubts. You may have discussed some of these dreams with certain close people in your life who have told you “Abeg, Nigeria is not ready for that one yet” or “where will the money come from?” or “that one too big, start small and then scale upwards”. You may have even convinced yourself that the dream is just a figment of your imagination and nothing is to be done about it. Well, one thing I learned from the book is to follow your heart and chase your dreams, no matter how big they appear because every other thing that you try to do to replace them will not give you as much satisfaction as the realisation of your dreams. That dream will keep burning within you until you take a step towards it, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Do not be afraid to fail
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. If you are afraid to fail then you would always remain in the comfort zone, and like I learned this past week, “nothing grows in the comfort zone”. Sometimes, you have to go out there and make things happen. Waiting to be cautious for just the right moment, over-analysing the risks, examining the what-ifs would not take you very far. Sometimes you have to take risks, calculated I might add. And from those risks, some you win and others you learn from.
In the book, after being robbed of all the money he has, the shepherd boy meets a crystal merchant who sells crystal glasses on a hill. He recognizes the opportunity to be able to work for him for a year to make back the money that was stolen from him. While working for the crystal merchant, the boy looks around and recognizes different avenues to increase the crystal merchant’s profit even in an existing market. He poaches several innovations to the crystal merchant which would help the crystal merchant make more profit. However, the crystal merchant is hesitant in accepting the change and innovation offered by the boy and lays different excuses why they would not work; mostly because others are already doing it. He eventually accepts this and the boy ends up making so much profit for the crystal merchant that his commission is much more than he imagined.
It is the same with life; sometimes we have a vision or a dream and we feel like we have to search for another because someone is already doing; or we feel like we have to modify it so it does not look like we’re “copying” their idea. But…Don’t be afraid to borrow someone’s idea or creation. Everyone wants to be a creative so bad that some people get carried away and fail to realize that there are hosts of opportunities even in an existing market. Don’t be afraid to enter an existing market to sell your products, whatever they may be. The question to ask is “what can I do differently that would make people want this?” Don’t wait for opportunities, create them! You would be surprised at what people would embrace if you started it.
Do not be discouraged by others’ pessimism and fear
“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”
The scene in the book where the shepherd boy encounters the crystal merchant is one of my favourites because it taught me so many lessons. Wow. The boy looks around at the crystal merchant’s shop, gets excited at the opportunities that are there so that the man can make more profit but with every idea he brings up, the crystal merchant shuts it down with pessimism, excuses and negativity. We later discover that all this is as a result of the crystal merchant’s fear of change and the fear of realizing his dreams. The crystal merchant had a dream of one day travelling to Mecca, but did not want to realize the dream because he feared that the realization of his dream might be a disappointment.
You may have a business partner or a friend or even a family member to whom you bring up innovative and seemingly crazy ideas that could work, but who always shuts it down with excuses or reasons why it would not work. Perhaps you need to surround yourself with people who will give you reasonable reasons why it would work. Do not be discouraged by others’ pessimism and fear because you do not know where it may stem from; but do not allow that affect the pursuit of your dreams.
Live in the Now
And I love this life lesson that I constantly have to remind myself of; because we get so caught up in life’s activities, even when we’re looking forward to the accomplishment of our dreams, we get so caught up in it that we forget the gift of the present. We forget to hug our loved ones and tell them how much we love them or even enjoy the simple things of life.
“If you pay attention to the present, you can improve on it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.”
It is never too late
You may have a vision or a goal, a dream of some sort that you have always wished you could realize but never got around to doing it. It could be furthering your education in a particular field, hitting the gym to achieve your dream weight, starting a business or whatever. And you may take a look in the mirror and say “Nah, it’s too late. Now there’s kids, there’s responsibilities, there’s family members to worry about, there’s other things to do, no time for dreams. You shoudda done that a long time ago” BUT! It’s never too late. You are still as capable of achieving your goals and dreams as you were 20 years ago. Even more so now with wisdom and experience. Do not give up. You can do it.
When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it
This is the core and central theme of the book and I love it so much because it is so true. Look, if you really want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it and you will see that people and things will fall in line to help you achieve it. You just need to ask yourself “how bad do I want this?” You will just find that people you did not know from Adam would come into your life who can bring something to the table in respect of that dream or you’ll find that things would start working out for good. It just takes the right attitude, the right determination and hard work.
Attitude is everything
In life, I am learning as I learned from the book, that attitude is everything! How we view life and how we see things and the attitude we choose to develop for ourselves is absolutely everything! A positive attitude is like a plant, if you’re going to grow it, then you have to water it daily with positive thoughts. Now that doesn’t mean that the sun may not shine a bit too brightly on a particular day or the rains may not come down a bit too heavy on another, but the constant is the watering with positive thoughts. No matter what situation you may be in, your attitude determines whether you can get out of the situation or whether you will remain there. Your attitude in life can also determine how far you go in life.
Focus on your journey/personal calling
We each have our own journey and our personal calling; what we are on earth to do; our purpose sort of in relation to humanity and our gifts/talents. There are certain things that come naturally to us, things that we happen to be good at, things that we love doing, and things that we ought to give the world that we can be paid for.
The Japanese call this our Ikigai : a combination of our mission, profession, passion and vocation. (I just finished a great little book on this and would share about it another time)
This is what we should be focused on instead of putting all our hard work into something that does not give us the same satisfaction as following our dreams. Each person has his/her own. Comparison of the next man’s dreams and progress with yours never a better man made. Focus on yours and achieve those dreams! You can.
Well, those are just some of the lessons I learned from this great book. If you want to read an e-copy this beautiful morning, you can click the link Here and download it. You’re welcome!
Have a great day!