10 Success lessons from Paulo Coelho – “The Alchemist” for entrepreneurs
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian novelist and songwriter and the best-selling Portuguese language author in history. He quit law school to go travelling around South America, Africa, and Europe. He learnt much about the supernatural on his travels, which would become themes of his books. He returned to Brazil and wrote song lyrics for famous Brazilian singers.
In 1986, Coelho went on a walk that would change his life. He walked the 800-kilometre Road of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, an ancient highway used for centuries by pilgrims. A year later, Coelho wrote his most famous book, ‘The Alchemist’. The book sold very slowly at first and his publisher dropped it. He found another publisher who had more faith in his writing and the book became one of the best-selling books of all time.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Paulo Coelho – “The Alchemist” for entrepreneurs,
1. Rejection doesn’t matter
Paulo believed in himself. He believed that he was a good poet and that his poems were not suitable for small magazines. So he sent his poems to the ‘Escritores e Livros,’ a reputable literary column in a newspaper called Correio da Manha. But the newspaper humiliated him.
Like any normal person, he took it personally, but managed to regain his confidence and write his own version of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If…”. In the case of Paulo, his self-belief won and this is because of a certain obsession of his.
2. Always take action
“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.”
You can study, read, and listen until you turn blue in the face, but the full experience is when you take action, and let the rubber meet the road. Once you’re done aiming, pull the trigger.
3. Be obsessed with your dream
Paulo was obsessed with the idea of becoming a famous writer. Yet, it was funny that the obsession only bore fruit in his later years. This is because he was always changing his art: from poetry to acting, directing, writing about the occult, and lyric writing.
Although he gained success in some of his ventures, he kept reminding himself that he wanted to be a famous writer. That obsession made him what he is today.
4. Good things come to those who persevere
In The Alchemist, Coelho’s most popular novel, a young Spanish shepherd named Santiago has a prophetic dream that treasure awaits him in some distant land. After consulting with a gypsy who tells him the treasure lies under the Pyramids of Giza and Egypt, he embarks upon a long and arduous journey across Africa. The obstacles he encounters in the desert—he struggles to secure food and shelter, crosses paths with armies, and even falls in love—make him second-guess his dubious quest.
But for every hurdle discouraging him, there’s a signpost reminding him to keep his faith alive. Early in his journey an old king tells Santiago: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
5. If you have a weakness, learn to compensate for it with your strength
Paulo was weak physically. According to his biography he was “very thin, frail and short.” He had a nickname – Pele – which means ‘skin. It was given only to those who were always being bullied by their classmates.
Considering his physical weakness, it was hard for Paulo to gain the respect of his peers. Yet he found out that despite his weakness, he managed to gain their respect.By knowing things no one else knew and reading stories none of his peers had read was one way of gaining respect.
6. Your past doesn’t make the future
Paulo failed in his studies, almost killed a boy because of his driving, was forced to stay in a psychiatry clinic because of his escalating problems, took drugs, was kidnapped by a secret organization and embraced Satanism.
The problem with most of us is we focus on things we can’t change. It is true that our past can influence our future, but we don’t want to let that influence spread too much and work of its own accord.
7. Listen to your heart
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” —The Alchemist
8. Your success has a ripple-effect
“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
Growth, change, and evolution are weaved into the fabric of reality. Becoming a better version of yourself creates a ripple effect that benefits everything around you: your lifestyle, your family, your friends, your community.
9. Don’t be afraid to be different
“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that, in my view, is a serious illness. God chose you to be different. Why are you disappointing God with this kind of attitude?” —Veronika Decides to Die
10. You don’t have to work in a corporate job
It’s not safe anyway, despite what they tell you. There’s much more fun and money to be had if you can handle a little uncertainty (warning — most people would choose misery over uncertainty, but you don’t have to be one of them). Doing work that you truly love is the best gift you will ever give yourself.