FOCUS: Planting Seeds

DISCIPLINES: Mental Models, Personal Mastery, Systems Thinking

One for the blackbird, one for the crow,
One for the cutworm and one to grow.
—American saying


Each spring I plant many sunflower seeds – tall ones, short ones, single flowers on a stalk, multiple flowers on a stalk. And, because most of them get eaten (by the blackbird, the crow and the cutworm) I am always surprised and excited to see where they come up. Some years I have several tall sunflowers in my front yard toward the end of summer, but this year I had none. Only one very short, weak stalk whose leaves are holey with bug bites. It was behind a stand of daisies that grew very tall; it didn’t get much sun. Several times I thought it was a weed and almost pulled it out. Yet this week, after the sunflowers in my side yard had bloomed, had their seeds eaten by goldfinches and been cut down, the stalwart little flower in the front bloomed. I smiled and took its picture, thinking of how symbolic it seems to me.

As a coach, part of my job is to plant seeds, throw out little sparks of possibility that may or may not take hold. I give encouragement to whatever good direction a client wants to go. I become part of the nutrients a seed needs to grow into itself.


A newly recovering alcoholic friend, Gus, mentioned to my husband Hal that he wanted to get a GED, the equivalent of a high school graduation certificate. Hal said, “That’s a good idea. And then, you’re so smart, you should go on to college and even get a graduate degree.” Gus got his GED, then a bachelor’s degree, a master’s and then a Ph.D. He thanked Hal saying, “You planted the seed!”

Susan wanted to be in a band, but she didn’t play an instrument. “Just choose one and then take lessons,” her husband Ken said. Today she plays the trumpet in a band and marches with them, and loves it!

I am often amazed at how seeds planted in me by other people can lie dormant for years. I know they’re there. I may visit them, but mostly I ignore them. Then one day I feel the seed wriggle in me. And it’s time to give it what it needs to grow.

Here’s a story of just such a seed. I’ve been writing Fresh Views for over ten years. Several years ago my friend Ginny asked me, “Why don’t you collect these essays into a little book?” I wasn’t interested then, but the idea has begun to wriggle, and I’m going to do it. If you’re a regular Fresh Views reader, you could help me bring this seed to flower by giving me some feedback. Please send your thoughts to me at


  • Why do you read Fresh Views, or what do you like about them? (I need some testimonials)
  • Which of these potential titles do you like the best?
    • Fresh Views on Living with Eyes Wide Open
    • The Learning Life – Over the Hill and Loving It
    • If, with Age, Wisdom Does Not Make You Happier, What Are You Thinking?
    • Secrets of the Good Life from a Happy Old Person
    • Give me your best idea for a good title! 


  • Where have you planted good seeds lately?
  • What seeds are lying dormant in you, just waiting to wriggle and grow?
  • What might you do to nurture those seeds?


  • Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore seed planting more deeply. Call Thursday, September 15 at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-218-862-1300 PIN 276583. No need to register…just call at that time!

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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720 Maple Lane, Sewickley, PA 15143
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