This book suggests that the three most significant barriers or obstacles that must be overcome by a young man trying to achieve his personal goals are as follows. Firstly, he has to learn that those who have known him since childhood and try and persuade him that he will never achieve his dreams or be special are not telling the truth. Secondly, he needs to conquer the fear of failure that anyone trying to achieve anything in life must defeat. Finally, he has to understand that the most terrible thing you can do in life is to ignore or deny the dreams that you have.
Thinking about this final barrier, consider the following quote that comes from the crystal merchant and is said to Santiago:
…every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don't want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons that I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I'm going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don't want to do so.
Here he expresses a common sentiment that is shared by various characters in the novel as he faces the fact that he has not lived his life to the full. This character, like other characters, functions as a warning to Santiago that those who choose material prosperity over their own Personal Legends will feel haunted by their unfulfilled potential for the rest of their lives. The characters that function as guides for Santiago consistently point out the dangers of stopping his quest and making do with where he has reached in life. Again and again, the message of the story is that personal fulfillment is only possible through a relentless pursuit of one's Personal Legend.