Three Precise Blows

How can I know the best way to act in life? the disciple asked the master.

The master asked him to build a table.

The disciple drove in the nails with three precise blows. One nail, however, struck a hard spot and the disciple needed to deliver one more blow – which drove in the nail too deep all the way into the wood.

Your hand was used to three blows of the hammer, said the master. You had so much trust in what you did that you lost your attention and skill.

“When action becomes a mere habit it loses its meaning and may end up causing harm, so never let routine be in command of your movements.”

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel “The Alchemist.” He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

Coelho’s online activities also include promoting pirated copies of his own books. Since 2005 he’s been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. “I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it.”

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