How Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ Reminds Us That Patience Is A Virtue

Brazilian lyricist and author Paulo Coelho turns 75 today, and what better way to celebrate than to honor his novel that inspired millions to follow their passions?

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If Paulo Coelho taught his readers anything, it’s that persistence combined with patience, grants the greatest rewards. The Brazilian author and lyricist has inspired millions of creatives to follow their dreams through his experiences, and the book that changed his life, The Alchemist. On his 75th birthday today, I want to share the profound message of his novel that changed lives for the better. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist teaches us that sometimes redirection is a blessing in disguise, and patience fuels the fire.

Paulo Coelho & His Worldly Quest for Treasure

Paulo Coelho de Souza was born on August 24, 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Growing up, he often rebelled against the limitations of his Roman Catholic upbringing. This rejection of faith influenced his parents to temporarily commit him to a psychiatric hospital- a harsh response. He attended law school before dropping out in 1970. Instead, he spent much of his time traveling, a spiritual journey similar to the premise of The Alchemist. He explored South America, Mexico, North Africa, and Europe. Now a seasoned traveler, Paulo Coelho shared his experiences in the only way that seemed right, music. He reveled in writing pop and rock music lyrics with the “Father of Brazilian Rock,” Raul Santos Seixas. As a talented lyricist, it is no surprise Coelho found himself in the literary world as he is a brilliant storyteller.


While embarking on a new journey, a walk through the route of Santiago de Compostela composed of 500 miles, Coelho found himself on a spiritual journey back to himself. This experience informed the premise for his very first book in 1987 called O diário de um mago. Later the book was published for English readers as The Diary of a Magus and reissued as The Pilgrimage in 1995. Unfortunately, the book didn’t do so well when it was published. However, thankfully, this did not deter Coelho from continuing his writing journey.

Power of Patience

Despite his incredible work, Paulo Coelho didn’t become an international best-selling author over night. Coelho published The Alchemist in 1988, which told a story about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who goes on a long quest for worldly treasure and realizes that the greatest rewards can be found on the journey. However, due to poor sales, the book was soon dropped by its first publisher. Only one person bought a copy of the book after its release. Coelho faced rejection from numerous publishers, but continued to move forward with persistence. His quest for a new publisher was as arduous as Santiago’s journey to riches. Coelho’s faith in his capabilities, mixed with a burning passion, drove him to become a successful author.

In due time, he was close to fulfilling his dreams. He landed a new publisher who believed in his message, and sold three thousand books on the initial release. At 42 years old, this was only the beginning for Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist reached new heights with over 150 million books sold today worldwide. In the end, the novel’s message is even more compelling when you understand how patience and persistence led the book to immeasurable success.


Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Paulo Coelho teaches us one of the most valuable life lessons, “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” The more we listen to ourselves and silence all self-doubt, the more we’re able to recognize how experiences shape us for life’s greatest rewards. The universe conspires to help us when we follow our dreams, despite how long it may take. We learn from experience, whether in the form of rejection, mistakes, or self-doubt. Redirection can be a blessing. Aside from his numerous rejections, Coelho is living proof.

After releasing The Alchemist, Coelho has published 28 more books and sold over 320 million books worldwide. In addition, he has been a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 2002. He has inspired millions of writers and creatives to follow their passions with his novel. We’re beyond lucky to celebrate his 75th birthday by showing our gratitude for all his inspiring words. I can attest to the power of his profound message in the novel, as it changed my outlook on life and the experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. What’s stopping you from taking that risk? You only have one life, so you might as well take advantage of this experience.

Paulo Coelho is one of the many writers I owe gratitude towards, simply because The Alchemist brought back my love of writing, and I haven’t stopped since. Celebrate Coelho’s 75th birthday by taking a risk today and start following your passions! If you’re looking to read more books that inspire you to find or follow your passions, keep reading here.