Look at the story of ‘The Alchemist’ from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
The boy was unsatisfied initially with what he had, so he left in search for something better. At the end of journey, he learns that value was in what he already had before, he couldn’t just see it. The journey showed him where exactly to look for the value in what he already had. The treasure was beneath abandoned church.
Entrepreneurs try to create value with the help of stuff, tech & systems that they already have. Treasure in abandoned junk. Story’s plot somehow justifies their efforts and belief that there is indeed something more valuable hidden where they are looking, a hope of change in the current world. The journey of boy in story can be an analogy of the process of invention, which shows the entrepreneur exactly where to look for the value in junk.
Now there’s a common pattern in Paulo Coelho’s books- If you are expecting some fundamental, reasonable principles or just some intense entertainment from any of his books, it will leave you unsatisfied. He writes for easygoing people- those who often rely on their intuitions while making a significant choice or a decision, and later get worried about the errors that might occur. His books justify their intuitive thinking & cheers them up. Now, a rational person derive his decision by reasoning over fundamental principles & objective facts, which is pretty solid. But easy going people often rely on their instincts, which are prone to errors. So, they will need analogical justifications to maintain a stand over their decisions and to avoid the worry & stress over possible mistakes. The entrepreneurial belief,”I will definitely find something valuable in junk” is often instinct driven, so whenever they face failure, starts getting beaten and tend to drop down on their knees, some intuitive justification is needed to keep them up. He provides it. Not only to entrepreneurs, but to all people getting beaten as a consequence of relying on their instincts during critical moments.
He observed instincts & wrote about them explicitly but couldn’t explain them properly, i.e. why we feel what we feel.( Or purposely didn’t want to explain. Since majority is of easy going people wanting justification rather than explanation, he supplied whatever is in demand.)
There’s a whole discipline developed in last 400 years, called science, to obtain explanations to our observations with maximum possible precision & authenticity. Feynman said,”To find something out, it is better to perform some careful experiments than to carry on deep philosophical arguments.” Take for example, the temptation to abandon what you already have in order to search for something different or better. It can be explained by the ted talk given by Daniel Wolpert in which he used an example of a sea squirt. Our brain & nervous system evolved to inspire us to travel & perceive as much changes as possible, to gather data for further cognitive growth. When a sea squirt gets tired of traveling and satisfied with its growth, it sits on a rock, digest its own brain & nervous system and live the happy stable life forever.
Another example can be the quote, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” So he says that whenever he wanted something, some divine power started turning otherwise random events in his favor. Again, a common intuition which he can’t explain, so attributed it to a divine power who is in your service 24×7, conspiring full on to satisfy your temptations.
When we want something, we start paying attention to relevant stuff anyway. We start putting efforts to avoid pitfalls & try to make events happen in our favor. 100’s of things happened whenever I tried to get something but there were a few out of those 100’s that really helped. The unfavorable events were often more than the effective ones that governed growth. Success is after all a series of only favorable outcomes. Coelho’s quote too pays attention to only these favorable ones.
Behind failed startup ideas, founders often try to look for objective reasons. But Coelho in this quote addressed those people who are fed up with their innumerable efforts gone waste & tries to cheer them up saying, these wasted efforts are a conspiracy of universe to direct you towards the favorable events. Obvious thing, mentioned in a mysterious tone & liberating these people from the guilt of not thinking thorough before making their choice.
The question here is of efficiency. How many times you failed before hitting the right spot each time. What Coelho didn’t mentioned was that If not given a thorough thought, there is a possibility of infinite useless choices, decisions & failures that will kill your time before you make each effective choice or decision contributing in your success.
Again, justifying the instinctive thinking. So this explains the fondness of some founders and other instinctive people with his books. He might have been a source of mysterious inspiration in their dark days.
He never struggled to understand the conventional or the unconventional life with an authenticity driven discipline like science. He can’t think of juicy stories in which 100 things happens and they all somehow connects with each other. Instead of paying attention to the regular world & working hard, he disguised justification for intuitive thinking as optimism to sell the poorly woven stories in a mysterious tone, merely stating obvious things, skipping bitter but relevant details & tagging them as parable.
There are better ways to convey rational optimism or to remember to be rational & hopeful along while in typical moments. Like biographies of hard working people or something like the phrase “Don’t panic!” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, often quoted by Elon Musk.
Information in any form- stories, movies or simply gossips, that enhances your instinctive ignorance towards relevant stuff is always harmful.