The African Violet Queen: A Story of Hope, Change, Service and Possibility

Here you will hear a story that changed my life. I heard it from Milton H. Erickson, M.D. in 1977 while I was studying to be a psychotherapist and it led to the creation of Solution-Oriented Therapy in the 1980s.

Be prepared to be moved.


  1. Gail

    This is the second time I have heard you tell this story. I loved it the first time and even more the second! Thank you for your encouragement to reach out to my clients with stories like this!

  2. Audrey Jolly

    Hi Bill – Thank-you for passing along this story from Erickson. It sent shivers through me. How he put together the components of her life and directed her so beautifully. I love the image of a search for someone’s african violet….I will be holding that one as I move forward.

  3. Jan Miller

    Hi Bill,
    I loved the story and what a great reminder to look for the African violets in our own life as well as in the lives of those we love. It’s a great daily practice to have 🙂

  4. Merlene Blair-Brown

    Hi Bill,
    I am so filled with gratitude for you sharing the stories and all the other ‘giveaways’. Thank you for my ‘flowering plant’ from your wealthy garden. As you have blessed me I hope I too will share. Your kindness is impressive. Thanks again.

    • PossiBill

      Thank you, Merlene. I am moving to a place at which I can afford to give away most of my offerings, only making a few for sale. I have been blessed in my life with greater success and abundance than I ever expected as I entered this life of service and teaching.

      I love giving stuff away and appreciate your comment.

  5. Linda Barnard

    I have MS and can only walk a few steps with a walker. Use electric scooter if I have to go out and about. I was an athlete before MS so my life has totally changed. In my own life I try every day to find the positive, the joy, the “African violet.” And I try to show that to others. It’s challenging for my clients to complain about the little issues in their lives when they see me struggle to walk. We can choose where we put our focus. Thank you for this story reminding me of that once again. No matter how difficult life might be, there is some gift we can share.

  6. Susan B Rifkin

    Thank you very much for your inspiring story about yourself and Milton Erickson. Plus the example of the healer who resonates with their wounds, then helps to build on their strengths.

  7. suzie

    I first heard of this story when I read your book “Do One Thing Different.” That book helped me more than you could possibly know. Stories like this in the book are part of why it was so useful. I still have it on my bookshelf and refer to it often.

  8. Judy Hackett

    Hi Bill
    This message has touched my heart. What a beautiful way to invest one’s life; in blessing the lives of others at those life changing moments. I need to open my eyes wider to see these every day opportunities to enrich the lives of others. Thankyou very much for sharing this and for your generosity which comes through what you teach and write about.

  9. Bryan Phillips

    Hi Bill, this was a great story, or story within a story – it sent shivers down my spine listening to the newspaper headline. thanks for sharing it, and helping us helpers find the creative and the possible in our clients lives.

  10. Mickey McNamara

    We all need to find the all important “African violet” in our lives. Love, love, love this story – as well as Bill!

  11. colombo

    Hello Bill! II followed numerous seminars with you in Belgium and you remain my mentor number ONE. Several times a week, I use tools learnt with you and then it is dozens and dozens small violets that appear in the life of my customers.
    I have for you an infinite gratitude! THANK YOU !

    Thérèse COLOMBO switerland

  12. Marc Werner-Gavrin

    Hey Bill, I heard you tell this story sometime in Vermont, maybe 20 years ago and I have been telling it ever since. Having not heard you tell it again in all these years I was intrigued to hear you tell it on this video. I want you to know that although you have captured the gist of the story, from the one you told all those years ago, it seems to me that you have significantly changed the details. (:

  13. Patricia. Brooks

    You helped me heal from my own injury (broken neck) with “one foot in front of the other” story and now I pay it forward. This African Violet story is so useful for my older clients who have lost a sense of purpose or meaning in their lives! Will encourage me to look with them for what is healthy and alive in them still. Many thanks as always. Patricia Brooks

  14. Anita

    Thank you! I have heard you tell this story many times over my 20 years as a groupy, it seems to get better each time. The big D is do common your stories are a staple when working with my clients.

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