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Realizing our “Personal Legend”

A post on finding, nurturing and manifesting our personal dreams against all odds.

“It\’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”  ~ Paulo Coelho

One of the best and most memorable books I’ve read in my life is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A truly gifted and inspirational writer, Paulo spins the tale of a young shepherd boy, Santiago, who sets out into distant lands to follow an itch that won’t go away – the belief that there is more meaning to his life than that of sheepherding. His courage to set out into the world is galvanized by a recurring dream that comes to him at nights where a child keeps showing him gold at the base of the pyramids in Egypt. Once he sets off on a journey of a thousand miles, Santiago encounters people and happenings that nurture his personal growth. His journey is embraced by the belief that when one truly aspires to achieve something, the universe conspires to support the realization of the dream.

During his travel, Santiago seeks out to find a powerful Alchemist – a person practicing medieval chemistry and speculative philosophy. In his encounter with the Alchemist, Santiago is taught that “those who don’t understand their personal legends will fail to comprehend its teachings.” The essence that I find in this quote is that the journey to fulfilling our Personal Legends (our dreams) is packed with lessons that support our further development. Therefore, the courage and openness that allows us to realize our personal legends is what ultimately brings lasting happiness to our lives – living in harmony or alignment with our Personal Legend. At the end of the story, Santiago has not only realized his Personal Legend, but also found his true love.

As stirring as this fable is, what is even more inspiring is Paulo Coelho’s own personal story. In another must read book by Sir Ken Robinson entitled The Element, Robinson defines The Element as “the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels”. As one of the world’s leading speakers and thinkers on creativity and self-fulfillment, in his book Robinson gives an account of many people who dared to dream and threw caution to the wind as they realized their own Personal Legend’s, regardless of the many voices who told them it could not be done. One of these dreamers was Paulo Coelho, who at the tender age of 17 knew he wanted to be a writer yet his parents had other ideas for him. His insistence to realize his Personal Legend of writing cost Paulo a lot. His parents sent him to a mental institution three times in the 60s to have brain electroshocks performed on him as therapy since his norm-defying dreams were misunderstood for mental craziness. In his personal blog, Paulo recounts how he promised himself back then that he “would write about this experience, so young people will understand that we have to fight for our own dreams from a very early stage of our lives”. Now, he is one of the highly revered and most read authors in the world, with The Alchemist itself selling more than 65 million copies worldwide and becoming one of the bestselling books in history!

The intention of this blog entry is to celebrate the path of dreaming and realizing; to champion those who have set off against all odds to achieve their Personal Legend and to share a story of inspiration with those who are on the sidelines playing it safe and listening to the “it can’t be done” rhetoric of well meaning people. Yet, I have often found that the well meaning advice of many when you share your dream with is based on projecting their personal paradigm – not yours. This means, they can paint a picture of “it can’t be done” with what they perceive to be your best interests at heart of course. Yet not realizing that your best interests may very well be vested in realizing the many nuances of your Personal Legend.

I leave you with one thought from Deepak Chopra on realizing the fulfillment of our dreams: “Remain in the state of self-referral. This means remain established in the awareness of your true Self – your spirit, your connection to the field of pure potentiality. It also means not to look at yourself through the eyes of the world, or allow yourself to be influenced by the opinions and criticisms of others. A helpful way to maintain that state of self-referral is to keep your desires to yourself…”

Dream Big!