I've been meaning to write a review on The Alchemist. Good thing I waited (er... was busy with work) because a good friend from HKG gave me her review: it wasn't satisfying. Everybody else loved the book, including yours truly. Anyway, The Alchemist is basically about pursuing dreams. It's that simple. Hence my HKG friend's reaction. She thought it was too simple and was a book for people who were too lazy to read. I tend to agree with her. Because I am too lazy to read... like many of my MBA classmates. (We read the book for class)
Nonetheless, lessons well taken from The Alchemist. Everybody has a dream. Not everybody follows it for various reasons. There are subjective and objective reasosn, and some reasons are hard to overcome. The book makes an attempt to say nothing is impossible (thank you, Adidas) and that we should pursue our dreams no matter what. This is, of course, debatable. Nonetheless, The Alchemist makes me think about the paths that I have taken so far and whether those paths are by design or by luck and, most importantly, whether it's leading me towards my dream.
The one thing that bothered me is that the book thinks that everybody has a dream. It doesn't really tell us how to find or formulate this dream. The very nature of a dream, the book says, indicates that it should come to you naturally (bad English, apologies). Nobody can teach you how to identify your dream, for you are the one who knows yourself the best.
This got me thinking: what is my dream? Is it being a consultant? A partner? Travel photographer and writer? At Chicago GSB, I'm working towards the first and second maybe. Just maybe. But that's hardly my dream! The last may be a dream, but I'm good at neither photography nor writing... maybe because I'm focused on career and knowledge. By working as a consultant, am I diminishing my chances of achieving my dream (assuming that it was true and all)?
Let me end with my mother: she use to teach. Following her dream of running her own business, she quit her stable teaching job at the university and started a supermarket business in Hong Kong. Later, she started a beauty salon business. Then, she started a travel agent, capitalizing her dream of learning about other cultures and art and history. She now runs specialty tour groups for museum goers. Maybe there's more to her path... maybe there isn't... I doubt she knew she wanted to be a travel agent, and I doubt she knew of her dream of learning art and history. But by quiting teaching and being an (serial) entrepreneur, she seem to be one step closer.
So maybe, just maybe, I am one step closer. Meanwhile, at the GSB, something counter-productive to my "dream": I left my camera in the classroom. When I found out later in the afternoon, I had a temporary heart attack and felt like the biggest dumbass for not taking care of my favorite electronic equipment. Arg.