The Alchemist



The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

One day in the barbershop we were discussing our favorite books. My barber said his favorite book of all time is a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I admit, I’d never heard of this book until that moment. The way he described what he had learned from the book made me go and look for it. I found the book on Amazon and began to read the book. Shortly after I started I was in a mad panic for a highlighter so I could mark what was significant. The Alchemist was a deeply insightful allegory filled with wisdom. A few weeks ago on a Sunday evening, I was flipping channels and I stumbled upon Oprah’s OWN network and she was interviewing an author. The author was none other than Paulo Coelho  for the 25th anniversary of his book. You guessed it, Paulo Coelho. I couldn’t miss this interview to see what he would shared on what inspired him to write the book that is filled with so much wisdom that you have to read it a second or third time to take hold of all that is shared thru the story of Santiago the shepherd. As Oprah begins to delve into the book, pieces of Paulo’s journey begin to emerge. He shared how his parents had sent to two mental institutions because he refused to be an Engineer like his father. In that cultural context and time frame, it was expected that you would have a profession one like your father. His own parents didn’t believe or support him as a writer. After he escaped being institutionalized, he later would publish the book The Alchemist. When he published the book it sold two copies (this is not a typo) only 2 copies! The publisher dropped him and he moved on. An interesting thing to note his book was flop by any standards even though it was a personal success to him.



Paulo’s story takes an interesting turn when he As he tells his story it takes an interesting turn when he read some of his own writing. It’s a funny thing sometime to read something that you written and it impacts you as a reader. Well, this experience led him to “knock on doors” for someone to publish and book that has flopped. What an inspiring story this is about purpose, perseverance and a personal legend.



Here’s the statistics and what I learned…



  • 25 years ago 2 books were sold
  • 25 years later over 65 million sold in 56 translations
  • What made the difference? One Decision, the decision not to quit, because what he believed was far greater than what he was experiencing at that point.
  • When nobody believed, he did. People won’t believe in you if you don’t believe in you.
  • He never let the obstacles he faced to be the outcome he lived with.


I believe if it worked for him, it can work for me.

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