One of my favorite books of all time is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I decided to kick off this year reading it. Even though I’ve read this book several times, I was blown away by how inspired I was.
The Alchemist is a very simple story about a shepherd boy, Santiago, who has to choose between his comfortable, familiar life versus pursuing his Personal Legend. A person’s Personal Legend is:
“God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth.”
In Santiago’s case, his Personal Legend is to travel faraway to Egypt to find treasure, with no guarantee of success. What are the lessons we can learn from The Alchemist regarding our Personal Legend?
1. Identify Your Personal Legend
What is that thing you are absolutely mad about, but scares you to dream of?
In my case, I have 15 years of corporate management experience working for companies like Sony and Deloitte Consulting. The corporate world was my security blanket. I was good at what I did, I had an established network, I knew how to play the game and I made great money.
But, I was slowly dying inside…
I wanted to do something that changed people’s lives. I wanted purpose and I wanted to do something I was completely passionate about. For me, that passion is coaching and writing. However, the idea of leaving the familiarity of my corporate job and paycheck scared me to death.
What could you do for hours without noticing time has passed? What do you feel you were born to do?
2. Overcome Fear
In meeting with clients, I would say the most common thing holding people back from their dreams is fear.
Before I left my corporate job, I remember thinking:
Why would anyone want to listen to me?
What if I fail and need to beg for my job with my tail between my legs?
What if people laugh at me?
I tried to pursue my passion, while still working my corporate job and was making slow progress. That being said, before you leave your current gig, I highly recommend you have a significant emergency fund and have tested the validity of your idea.
How do you know when you’re ready to take on your Personal Legend and make the leap? After much prayer, I got to the point where the fear of not trying to pursue my dream and missing the opportunity outweighed my fear of failing.
It’s the age old dilemma of whether it’s better to have loved and lost than not loved at all.
3. Assign Your Cabinet
When I left my corporate gig, I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea how hard. Initially, I remember sending out an email promoting my business and I thought I’d get at least a couple of responses. Nada. I remember going to many network events feeling frustrated with no prospects whatsoever.
When I would explain my business idea to good friends, I’d get skeptical responses and in most cases, very little support. As someone who lives for words of affirmation, this was excruciatingly difficult for me. There were also people who seemed offended I would choose a different path than what was stable and predictable.
In the midst of this, however, you learn who’s really in your corner. Oprah calls these people her Cabinet. These are the supporters/truth tellers in your life.
For me, my main supporter is absolutely my husband. With a special needs child, Alex knew if I pursued my Personal Legend, it would mean sacrifice for our family and him. He has supported me every step of the way.
My best friends, Ada and Jana, have encouraged me whenever I would feel discouraged (which was often), but also provided invaluable feedback to help me pursue the right things. I also have an amazing mentor, Vivienne, who believed and supported me from the get go.
According to The Alchemist:
“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”
It will be hard. You need those go-to people in your life who will talk you off the ledge when you are second guessing your Personal Legend.
What is your Personal Legend?