We live in an incredible time. Technology and globalization has given the opportunity for everyone to become anyone and do anything. A 16 year old kid can win $3 Million at a Video Game tournament, you can become an instant author by publishing ebooks on Amazon, you can trade stocks for free from the comfort of your mobile device or maybe jump into the TV and Media industry with your own YouTube channel.
It is then no surprise that this generation specially, questions their place in Corporate America. According to Gallup, 21% of millennial said they have changed jobs in the past year, this is three times more than non millennials. Not only this, but 60% are open for a new opportunity somewhere else with only 29% engaged at their current job.
This is all understandable, if we can do anything, why settle for an office job? So the status quo solution has usually become to switch jobs, after all the grass is always greener on the other side, or is it?
As of the time of this writing The Alchemist ranks 5 in best selling books all time, with 65 Million copies sold. It is without a doubt a roaring success, trailing behind just 4 books: The Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and of course The Holy Bible.
Image Credit: Business Insider
More interesting is the fact that the novel was originally a total flop. After little to no sales, the publisher decided to drop The Alchemist, which could have easily been the end of the story. Had it not been for Coelho going to a different publisher with the explanation that:
“I have a book that was published and did not sell. But I trust this book is going to sell”
How after such an unconvincing sales pitch this other publisher was convinced to believe in Coelho and his work is still a total mystery, but as they say, the rest is history. The Alchemist has almost a catalog of diverse life lessons all of us could apply, but there is definitely an overarching theme that is perfectly summarized by this quote from James Oppenheim:
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.”
Have you ever met this foolish man? Starts complaining about work Monday morning and stops Friday at 5. And when Monday inevitably arrives again, is shocked the weekend was so short. This ongoing misery, drives this man to find another job which turns out to also be terrible, and another, and another, all of these, terrible jobs. Either this man has the worst luck in the cosmos, or he literally has the power to make every job miserable. And this job hopping it is more of the norm today than the exception, is no wonder that Gallup titled their above mentioned survey Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation
On the other hand we have the wise man, or Santiago, the protagonist of Coelho’s novel. Santiago sleeps under a tree in his hometown in Spain and dreams of a hidden treasure, buried at the foot of the Egyptian Pyramids. He travels the distance to follow his dream, just to realize after years of toil, adventures and strange lands that the treasure, was buried underneath that same tree were he dreamt of the pyramids.
I think Thoreau described it best when he said:
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
The Alchemist should at least make every one of us ask the tough question:
“Do I need to change jobs? Or do I need to change?”
Even though occasionally we need to look for treasure in new lands, everyone needs to learn how to see the one already in our backyard. After all, we are the Alchemists of our own lives. With the right attitude we can turn any job into pure gold.
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