Monday, 21 January 2013

The World's Greatest Lie

A book was given to me a few years ago by someone who has been a very special influence on my life. She gave me The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have read through this book 6 times now and every time it speaks to me in a different way. I have given copies of it to many people around me that I care about. Do I feel it is an important book? Yes. 

The Alchemist

One particular statement from the book has really stood out to me lately ...

“At a certain point in our lives, 
we lose control of what's happening to us, 
and our lives become controlled by fate. 
That's the world's greatest lie.” 

In my work I interact with entrepreneurs, in my volunteer activities I interact with children. It is so interesting to look at those groups through the lens of the worlds greatest lie. 

Children don't believe it, it is as simple as that. Especially small ones. They know that the world is wide open to them. That is why they are so eager to explore, to see and feel and taste things.  But as they get older, they hear the lie being transmitted round their world. They are told that opportunities are scarce and that they should pick a safe path through life. Although it may not be passed on with words, the adults around them give the sense that choice is something that few have when it comes to how their lives play out. So it is better to stick to the rules and live the life that our society shows to be "normal". 

Most entrepreneurs seem to have stepped around that lie. They know that they can forge their own future. It may be hard and they may be subject to criticism. Some who believe the lie may even see entrepreneurs as naive. But true entrepreneurs push on through all of that, knowing that it is all a lie and knowing that in the end, they make choices that determine how their life plays out.

Sometimes, though, the road gets so tough that the entrepreneur wants to give in to the lie. They know it isn't true but they are tired of the fight to build what their dream.  Living by the lie could be a relief. I am fortunate enough to get to interact with this step in an entrepreneur's life sometimes and I find the best way to remind them that they cannot fall into the lie, is to show them children. When they see a child's optimism and fire, it is a quick reminder of that explorer spirit that dwells within almost every true entrepreneur.

Watching people fall into the world's lie is sad, watching people overcome it is a delight. So I recommend 2 things: 
   1. Read The Alchemist
   2. Learn from children

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