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How Suzanne's Sunflower
Revealed Secrets Of Success

A Case Study From Jeannette Samanen, Ph.D.
© 2002 by Jeannette Samanen

This case study is an instance when an image, the Sunflower, appeared as a guide and the power of the image conveys meaning beyond the context of the words.

Suzanne’s consulting firm provides software solutions to small businesses.

Some time before coming to see me, Suzanne became aware that to grow her business she needed to market to larger companies. As the result of an aggressive marketing campaign to mid-sized companies in her area, Suzanne was invited to submit a proposal for a project. The job was just what Suzanne had been looking for, and she worked very hard on the proposal.

When the contract was awarded to another firm, Suzanne felt devastating disappointment. She could not face the prospect of going through the entire process again. She wasn’t interested in networking. She was unmotivated, demoralized and totally preoccupied with feelings of failure.

Suzanne Taps Into Her Intuitive Mind

In a state of deep relaxation, Suzanne asked her intuitive mind what it wanted her to learn to help her through this challenging situation.

Intuition often communicates with us most eloquently through images. What appeared was a gigantic Sunflower.

The Sunflower told Suzanne that it had come to teach her about success.

Suzanne was deeply moved by the beauty of the Sunflower, the brightness of the petals and, especially, the exquisite geometric pattern of the seeds in the center. This was one of those sunflowers with a broad head so there were hundreds of these seeds.

The Sunflower told Suzanne that the first thing she needed to learn about success was that every success holds within it the seeds for countless other successes.

Suzanne’s focus at this moment was not on success. She was still deeply pained by her recent failure to land the job she had hoped for. She asked the Sunflower, “What about all of the seeds that fall on rocky soil and never have the chance to grow, or are eaten by rabbits when they are just little shoots, or wither and die because they get no water?”

The Sunflower replied, “That is destiny. The lack of success is not failure; the lack of success is destiny.”

This was an extremely powerful message for Suzanne because she had so personalized the loss of the project she had hoped would boost her firm to the next level.

No one would blame a seed that fell on unfertile ground for failing to sprout. No one would say that it was the fault of a vibrant young seedling that a rabbit had recognized it as a tasty meal and had devoured it.

These awarenesses helped release Suzanne from the feelings of personal failure that had been paralyzing her.

Nonetheless, she still felt deep disappointment about the loss of the job she had hoped for and nearly gotten. She also felt despair about the lack of immediate prospects for expanding her business.

Suzanne asked the Sunflower, “What about during the wintertime? You are all beautiful and radiant right now, but what about the winter when there are no sunflowers around to shine?”

The Sunflower responded, “The next thing you need to learn about success is that success is cyclical.

"There will be times when the outcome of success will be wildly apparent, like the glorious blossoms of the Sunflower.

"There will be other times when success is held alive in the tiny seed, barely noticeable, or it is growing out of sight under the ground. At these times success is not less real, it is merely less evident.

"It is important to trust in the presence of success even if it is not apparent.

These words helped Suzanne to gain a broader perspective of her situation. She recognized that, although her current situation was discouraging, she could reasonably hope that it would not always remain so.

The Sunflower then told Suzanne that there was one more thing she needed to learn about success.

“Any time you begin a project of any kind that you care about,” the Sunflower told her, “something that you are willing to work at and nurture, it holds within it the potential for success. At the very moment that you plant the sunflower seed, the potential for the beautiful realization of the glorious flower is initiated.”

These words helped stir Suzanne out of the apathy she had been experiencing since her disappointment. She actively resumed her marketing activities.

At the level at which Suzanne was looking it takes time to land a contract. Suzanne pursued this for some months more, and when she was finally awarded a contract, it was a good fit and substantially increased her business.

The interesting post-script to this story is that about a year and a half after I stopped seeing Suzanne, I read in the paper that the company that had almost hired her had gone out of business!

About Jeannette Samanen

Jeannette Samanen, Ph.D. offers personal coaching to executives and entrepreneurs. For people outside the Philadelphia region she coaches by phone. She can be reached by phone at 610-983-9601 or by email at

She founded QEC Consulting to bring her coaching skills into organizations. More about QEC Consulting is at

Hanson Marketing Group, Inc.
Certified Professional Consultant to Management
8011 Navajo Street, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Phone: 215-753-2620 Fax: 215-753-9223

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