Finding Success Through Your Heart’s Desire: Lessons From an Artichoke

Artichoke Plants in the garden
Artichoke Plants in the garden | Source
Artichoke on the stalk
Artichoke on the stalk | Source

I love artichokes and find that, as a metaphor, they hold some interesting images and important lessons for achieving success. Artichoke plants are beautiful and produce a delectable vegetable. The very large flower buds at the top of the plant stalk are what is cut off, cooked and enjoyed. If the big buds are not harvested, they mature and break open to reveal stunning bluish purple thistle-like flowers. They make wonderful ornamental arrangements, but all the nourishment and delicious labor of eating them is lost.

Like life, to really enjoy them to their fullest you have to invest time and careful effort. You need to get past layers of silvery green leaves, each one of which contains a very sharp, tiny thorn at the end. Although delicious, eating an artichoke takes work. When cooked properly, the leaves have at their thick end, opposite the thorn, a tasty, tiny, tender portion of its initial edible offering.

Once past the layers of leaves and the threat of the thorns, persistence is important. We are not to stop at the silk, or be content with getting to the beautiful inner colors. We must move all the way through these layers to get to the heart, the artichoke’s buried delicacy. Here one reaps the delectable reward of work well done.

Achieving success in a home-based business is a bit like eating an artichoke. In a similar way, we need to be persistent and go beyond that which is readily available through some primary and secondary efforts. We must go beyond the obvious, even the beautiful, and keep on going until we get to the heart of the matter. We must persevere if we are to find the real treasure.

In my work as an Internet marketing coach, I encourage individuals to discover and clearly define their “why.” Your why is your reason for pursing something which is especially challenging and time-consuming. It is the prime moving force which urges you forward, in the face of layer upon layer of frustration, and one thorny challenge after another. It is that inner, purposeful resolve that nudges you onward, despite the obstacles. Your why is your heart’s desire.

In the book, “Your Heart’s Desire” by Emmet Fox, he poses some penetrating questions about how we are to find our true place in life. “Is there any means whereby you may discover what it really is that God wishes you to do? You may feel inclined to say: ‘Even if it be true that God has some splendid thing that he wishes me to do, and to be, how can I possibly find out what it is?’”

After acknowledging a few of our most keen questions, Fox then reviews some of those self-doubts that are so commonplace. You know what they are. We protest, thinking, I am just an ordinary person, how could something wonderful and beautiful, something splendid even, be ordained for me? We are quick to list our limitations; we are often way too eager to believe our doubts and to doubt our beliefs. But Fox says the way to know what God longs for us to do and to be and to have in our lives has a divinely simple answer.

“Already in your past life from time to time, God has whispered into your heart just that very wonderful thing, whatever it is, that he is wishing you to be, and to do, and to have. And that wonderful thing is nothing less than what is called Your Heart’s Desire . Nothing less than that.”

What is remarkable to me about this simple and stunning assurance is how accurately Fox portrays our resistance. He states that our heart’s desire is usually so deep within us that we hardly dare think about it. We most certainly are reluctant to share it, lest we be ridiculed should the mere thought of it become known to others. He says that this sparkling desire, at the very heart of us, is that uniquely special thing which God most wants for us and from us. God wants us to reach for and realize this lofty dream because that is the very thing that God needs for us to become, to have, or to accomplish.

Trusting this often takes a leap of faith, because the secular world doesn't honor dreams, or recognize the value of inspiration. It takes something more to discern and respect that which lies deep in your heart. As Fox puts it, “…the birth of that marvelous wish in your soul – the dawning of that secret dream – was the Voice of God himself telling you to arise and come up higher because he has need of you.”

In these troubling economic times, I believe we need all the dreamers, follow-through-ers, and doers we can encourage. Now is the time to step outside your comfort zone, move beyond bland conformity and embrace your special gifts and talents. Your far-reaching vision and your passion, your why and your heart’s desire are needed more than ever. Needed by God for you in order to fulfill your life's highest purpose, and for the benefit of others. What is your true place in this precious life? What are you secretly longing to do, to become and to acquire? Keep going deeper and deeper, past the layers of challenges, to the very heart of the matter. To your sacred heart’s desire. Then pursue that with zeal. You are never too old, there is never a better time than right now, and we’ll never have enough until we begin. If you think you can’t afford it, then you really can’t afford not to do it. Remember that when your why is big enough, the how will take care of itself. It always works that way. And it always works.

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