Coming towards the end of a money awareness workshop, with my colleague Michaela, at Market Field School in Colchester I am approached by a member of the school staff who, I later learned, had especially come over to see me as she had heard that I had been talking about my youngest daughter Bettina.

Bettina is a former pupil of this wonderful school, moving on to Sixth Form 15 years ago. The member of staff remembered Bettina and was thrilled to see a picture of her on my desktop which was projected onto the screen. She recalled Bettina’s perseverance.

Have you seen the Disney film Lilo & Stitch? Until her second year in Market Field School, Bettina was ‘Stitch’ and, just like Stitch, she was someone who was not at one with her life or her surroundings, which the film depicts as being “lost”. (this link contains some funny moments from the film).

Despite Bettina having been diagnosed as having severe autism and a learning disability, her character is of fierce courage and a determination to persevere. From the beginning, her family recognised that it was going to take prolonged and patient perseverence, despite a significant amount of difficulties and obstacles, and that she would be continuously faced with fitting in, learning and contributing. However, Bettina was always going to be determined to have her voice heard – what a role model for those who are part of her life!

I have and continue to use her lessons in perseverance to achieve my objectives both at work with and in my personal life too. So what are Bettina’s lessons in perseverance?

Bettina’s methods:

  • Streamlining – Bettina streamlines the task, taking out unnecessary steps (& stages)
  • Determination – Bettina has great enthusiasm, passion and a determination which inspires those around her to help her to succeed.
  • Recognition – Bettina understands failure and uses it as her ‘rocket fuel’ to prove that she can achieve.
  • Relentless focus – Bettina always deploys relentless focus to the task at hand. I love watching her getting on her ‘game face’ to do the most difficult jigsaw.
  • Completion – Bettina cannot cope with unfinished tasks. If she runs out of time to complete a task before she leaves home with her Personal Assistant (PA) it will be first thing she completes when she returns at the end of her day.
  • Vision of where she wants to go – Bettina always has a desired outcome in mind and she will find a way to share it with you.

Bettina keeps on improving and succeeding because of her perseverance by:

  • Being surrounded by supporters who believe in what she is doing and what she is hoping to achieve.
  • Always looking for new challenges to progress. The start of her verbal communication at the age of 10 followed by her reading skills. Bettina (constantly) perseveres with both her communication and her education. Bettina has her own library!
  • Leading a disciplined life. The self discipline required to do the things she does not feel like doing because she knows she should. She also brings order to her life with the systems and processes she creates for herself.
  • Being open to new opportunities. Bettina does not have a closed mind. She can be frightened of dogs as their behaviour is unpredictable to her but this does not stop her interactions with animals.
  • Ensuring the responsibility for her perseverance rests with her.

“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”  – Flavia Weedn

How I interpret Bettina’s lessons in perseverance:

  • Reframe – if at first you do not succeed with your desired outcome you reframe your idea and if necessary redesign it.
  • Patient “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams
  • Persist – you are hard to get rid of, especially when you have an idea and an initiative you think will be for the greater good. You are not going to go away simply because someone has said no.
  • Intentional – doing things with intention so everything you do is with a purpose (I have yet to see Bettina do anything that has not been on purpose)
  • By being resilient. Bettina is incredibly quick to recover from setbacks, mistakes and her perceived failures. I must do the same too.

“Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” – Author Unknown

When you think you cannot continue any longer and feel everything is against you, that is the time to persevere! Four months ago I developed inflammation in one of my knees and had difficulty bending my leg. It was incredibly painful, especially when I tried to go for a run. The temptation at 62 years old was to find excuses and reasons to stop running, perhaps for good.

Running has been a passion for nearly 40 years, so could I manage my life without it? No, I was going to be like Bettina and persevere – I needed to use all of the lessons ‘B’ has taught me. Now if I could get through the first mile of pain, could I do the next four or five miles?

I did and now it only hurts for the first 100m and then I am away on another run,

Thank you Bettina you inspire me (and your family) every day.

“So, what does perseverance mean? It means that one possesses persistence, tenacity, determination, and staying power. This in turn means, when applied to a problem or issue that needs to be resolved, that the individual never gives up, never quits and never sees defeat until the problem, challenge, project, obstacle is resolved to a satisfactory level.”

Byron Pulsifer