Bettina (my youngest daughter) and I are sitting on our sofa with our feet up on the coffee table.  Bettina is watching a DVD and I am typing this blog post.  We have had the best day! We have been to the beach, shopped, had our evening meal at Frankie’s and Benny’s, and we have had lots of fun.  Joyce (my wife) and Jennifer (Bettina’s big sister) are in London as part of Joyce’s birthday present from Jennifer to see the West End show ‘An American in Paris’

So this post is about ‘Influence’.  I think it is perhaps one of the most important traits of leadership.  When you have influence and when you influence others you know you are a leader.  Bettina, a person who copes with a learning disability, a complex communication disorder and autism, has influence which has been used by her for the greater good with the people who follow her and anyone who has spent some time with her.

A person of influence is someone who has a mental, moral or emotional effect on a person or people.  They can effect, modify, guide control the behaviour or opinions of others.  They have powers of persuasion.  Bettina has all that.

“Leadership, at its heart, is more about influence than it is about position.  Leadership is about being a force for the positive” John Addison

Whitby 15 Bettina Steve thowing pebbles 1How I have been influenced by Bettina

  • Without realising at first, I modelled some of my behaviours on Bettina’s. The way she communicates in a deliberate way – she checks that you have listened and understood without making it obvious she is checking
  • I do everything with intention – if I decide to act, I am committed to complete
  • I live in the moment as I sit on the sofa with Bettina I am enjoying the ‘now’ rather than hurrying towards the next day. Bettina practices ‘mindfulness’ and now so do I. 
  • I have routines, rituals and discipline within my life – I have seen how they have worked for Bettina as she battled against the worst effects of her Autism. They worked for her and they work for me too.  (these disciplines have a calming influence for the both of us)
  • I started a new career 21 years ago because I wanted people to have the life and opportunities that Bettina experiences. Thank you Bettina

How others have been influenced by Bettina (because they have told me)

  • They get things into perspective – they see what Bettina has to face on a daily basis and they think if Bettina can smile through it so will I.
  • People’s attitudes towards people with learning disabilities and autism. They see how she contributes to her community and the joy she brings with her.
  • Bettina was one of the first people to have a ‘Personal Budget’ in our area, which means Bettina employs a Personal Assistant (PA) and pays for her service and support. People have seen how this has worked for her and now they want to have this opportunity
  • Bettina’s zest for life spreads! Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm
  • Joyce was influenced by Bettina’s experiences at an early age, to set up a Support Group which morphed into a Carers Centre to influence and bring about change within our community for people with disabilities, their Carers and Family

5 top tips to be a person of influence and be like Bettina:

  1. You have integrity. Having high moral principles, a quality of being united
  2. You have an effect (it can be just for one person) on those you come into contact with. I have included this link from YouTube from her Head Teacher (Gary Smith) – we were very proud that Gary mentioned Bettina about something she did 14 years ago that still resonates with him.
  3. You put others before yourself
  4. You do things for the greater good – You have a positive attitude towards your world
  5. You want to change the status quo. Carers and people with Autism in our locality are supported very differently from when Bettina first started her education

Albert Einstein said “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means”

As we sit on the sofa looking at the big bag of sweets in front of us, I am wondering who influences who the most when comes to eating stuff we really shouldn’t.  Nope I am blaming Bettina for that one.