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.
Suzannes 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 wasnt 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
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
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.
Suzannes 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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
She founded QEC Consulting to bring her coaching skills into
organizations. More about QEC Consulting is at http://www.qecconsulting.com