This week, guest poster Gillianne kindly agreed to review a personal development book that she enjoyed. She’s eager to share what made it so memorable.

There are many personal growth books that give you a straight up list of lessons you should learn, such as:

  1. Write some goals
  2. Improve your habits
  3. Go win

For me, the list of lessons is nice to see. It feels like a to do list that I can check off one by one. I also find that those lessons are gone from my mind the minute I close the book and put it back on the shelf.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho falls in the “parable” category—an engaging story where the lessons aren’t always pulled out for you or the character. Instead, you and the main character go on a journey where you have to dig a little to learn.

In this story, a shepherd boy named Santiago has been living his adventure, traveling with his sheep and finding new places to visit along the way. He is pleased at the life he has lived and the decisions he has made to get there. He feels free to make his own choices, he has enough money to live, he knows his sheep and they know him. What he doesn’t realize is that, although his life is good, he is actually in a rut when he compares it to what it could be. It takes a recurring dream, a gypsy fortune teller, and a stranger who claims to be a king to show Santiago that there is more to his path if he would just choose to follow it.

He had to choose between something he’d become accustomed to and something he wanted to have.

The story is engaging and draws you into Santiago’s ups and downs, his obstacles and distractions, the lessons he learns, and his personal growth. He discovers that he can learn from the crystal glasses, the wind in the desert, and all the people he meets along the way. I’ve been considering where I could be more like Santiago and do more listening to the people and the world around me, knowing that everyone and everything has a lesson for me to learn along my path.

Santiago is ultimately seeking his “Personal Legend.” It is defined in the story that each and every person has a personal legend. Some choose not to pursue it and instead stay in their comfortable life or refuse to take the risk. Along the journey there are many obstacles to face, including losing all his money, finding the girl he desires to marry, not speaking the language, and getting caught up in wars. This reminds me how I face obstacles myself in my daily life, and reading about this character overcoming his gives me a desire to overcome mine.

He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.

Ultimately that is the author’s goal:  to entertain you a bit with a nice story, and to encourage you to chase your personal legend, even though it may be difficult as you overcome the hurdles on your path. This book was recommended to me and I’m thankful for the recommendation as it was an enjoyable read.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Photo of camel caravan by Sergey Pesterev from StockSnap

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