It’s been 2 years since we launched Alchemist Wealth and it has been a wonderful journey. We named the company Alchemist Wealth after our favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In the story a boy sets out to follow his personal legend and live out his own unique life adventure. To date, we have met with hundreds of people and engage in financial planning and coaching for 40+ households. In those meetings with people from coast to coast, from various backgrounds, and with varying hopes and dreams, the core of the conversations are the same. Each person is echoing the question that the boy in The Alchemist sough to answer; How do I design and live the life I want most?
At the beginning of the book, the boy meets a King who provides him insight and wisdom that he will use to navigate the journey. The King gives him tools to make better decisions along the way and gives him foresight that only a person with experience can provide. At our highest aim we hope to be like The King for our clients. A guide or Sherpa to help them make better financial decisions in their endeavor to live their most fulfilling life.
As the boy departs from his wise guide the last thing that the King tells the boy is the following story.
A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of man. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.
However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.
The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience. The Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.
He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time. “However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”
The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours, he returned to the presence of the wise man.
“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house. “Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls.
He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.
“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.
“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages.
“The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”
The essence of impactful financial planning is helping clients to identify and design their unique balance. The goal is to experience the beautiful things that bring us joy, while never forgetting about the responsibilities that we have to those we love, and more importantly, to ourselves. Because people have different sets of values, the drops of oil can be different for each person, but the tension is the same. Getting clear on what you dream of experiencing and what your drops of oil are can give you the confidence needed to design the life most suited for your happiness.
In the two years that we have operated Alchemist Wealth I’ve met some of the most impressive people of my lifetime. Folks that are designing their lives unapologetically around the things that bring them joy and the things that they value most. By their level of happiness, I am convinced that the wise man in the story must be on to something.