10 Inspiring Life Lessons From “The Alchemist”

If you haven’t read “The Alchemist”…

What the heck you playin’ at?!!

The Alchemist is definitely my favourite book – it’s a real gem.

It tells the enchanting tale of a shepherd boy from Andalucía who travels to the Egyptian pyramids to chase his dreams.

There are SO many things we can learn from Paulo Cuelho’s magical tale. Here’s 10 of them.

Let’s go!

#1: Everything starts with a dream.

Why does Santiago set off for the pyramids? Because of a dream about hidden treasure. People tell us to be realistic, but people rarely achieve what they want by being realistic.

As Michelangelo said:

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

Dream Big my friends. Dream Big.


#2: You have to Take Risks to get what you want

When Santiago travels to a town, he meets a gypsy who interprets his dream. For the interpretation, he’s promised to give her 1/10th of any treasure that he finds to the gypsy.

When Santiago meets the mysterious and wise King Salem, he pays 1/10th of his flock to hear how he can find his treasure. And he’s still not left Spain yet.

Take Risks. Invest in Yourself.


#3: We’ve Got Nothing to Lose

Having a “nothing to lose” mind-set is incredibly liberating. When Santiago gets all his money stolen in Morocco, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he realises that it’s all just part of life’s great adventure.

What have any of us really got to lose?

Reputation? We’re all gonna end up in the same place anyway. And we’re all insignificant specks of matter in an incomprehensibly massive universe.

Money? Material possessions? You don’t see U-Haul vans behind hearses….


#4: Know What You Want

Nothing happens by accident. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. There is no perfect moment. You’ve got to create the perfect moment..

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

First, know what you want. Then let the universe do its thing.


#5 Venture into the Unknown.

To get to the pyramids, Santiago sells his entire flock of sheep, leaving all he knows and his previous life behind in order to cross the ocean from Spain to Morocco. He didn’t speak the language. He didn’t know what would happen. But he did it anyway.

Are you afraid of the unknown? Or do you greet it like an old friend?


#6 Read the Omens.

In the book, Santiago is taught to learn the Language of the World – the signs around him.

Everyone in our lives can be viewed as a mirror. They reflect something back at us. What are the people around you reflecting back at YOU? For example, are you constantly finding faults in others? Is that really a reflection of your own insecurities? Or do people always laugh and smile in your company? In that case you’re doing something right.

How have your cards fallen? Have you been gifted the chance to pursue something or someone special? What are your surroundings telling you? Can you read between the lines and see the writing on the wall?

Could the path to your dreams in fact be right under your nose?


#7 The Secret of Happiness

“A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world.

The lad wandered through the desert for forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world.

The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention. The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours. “Meanwhile I want to ask you do do something,” said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. ‘As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.”

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

“Well,” asked the wise man, “did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man.

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the tasted with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you.” said the wisest of wise men. “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”


Are you living in the moment, whilst keeping your head up and striving valiantly towards your ultimate vision?

#8: Be Courageous

The stranger placed his sword in its scabbard, and the boy relaxed.

“I had to test your courage,” the stranger said. “Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World.”

The boy was surprised. The stranger was speaking of things that very few people knew about.

Are you developing your courage? Reading inspirational biographies? Doing things that frighten you? Going on adventures?

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.”


#9 Fear of failure is the biggest killer of dreams.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the stepping stone to success. Just ask Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and the gang…


#10: Follow Your Heart

“The Alchemist” is ultimately about following your heart.

When Santiago earns some money in Morocco, he has the choice to go back to being a shepherd.

“But I’m going back to the fields that I know, to take care of my flock again.” He said that to himself with certainty, but he was no longer happy with his decision. He had worked for an entire year to make a dream come true, and that dream, minute by minute, was becoming less important. Maybe because that wasn’t really his dream.

It might not always make sense. It might take you on the craziest journey. But in the end, it’s not what you get at the end of the journey. It’s who you become along the way. Life is the journey. Enjoy the Ride.


As Always,

Dream Big Start Small!



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