Bettina still can’t quite believe she is in the cinema having a hot chocolate before she sees a screening of Space Jam – New Legacy*  Bettina is beyond excited.  Bettina has not been to the cinema since the beginning of Covid19 restrictions.  At every stage and phase of Covid19, Bettina has adapted her routines and expectations and overcome her disappointments when her favourite activities are stopped and facilities are closed,  retaining her optimistic and positive approach to life no matter what.

Before Bettina was born her mum and dad were acquainted with ‘adapting and overcoming’.  Joyce is from Manchester, I am from Teesside and we met at the ‘Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe’ (SHAPE) in Mons, moving to Plymouth from a NATO HQ in Belgium to a small Commando Squadron in the south west of England to start our married life together.   I was away on exercise for 50% of our two-year posting during which time Jennifer, our oldest daughter, was born.  Joyce and I thought we were already competent at adapting and overcoming any changes,  challenges and/or developments.

Bettina coming into our lives (in Berlin) and her diagnosis of autism and a learning disability at a very early age did not phase us as a family, afterall  “adapting and overcoming” is what we do.

Bettina has taken adapting and overcoming to a new level for me, as almost on a daily basis I learn something new from ‘B’ that helps me become more resilient and opens my eyes to more opportunities.

“Bettina teaches me new stuff every day”  Bettina’s PA & Job Coach, Donna.

  ‘Adapt and Overcome’

  1. For your friends, family – they trust and depend on you
  2. For your colleagues and those you support
  3. For those who are rooting for you and want you to succeed
  4. If you are to rebound from failure or setbacks
  5. If you are to achieve your destiny and to leave a lasting legacy.

Related:  Resilience unlocks results – Leadership in the Raw by Damian Piper CBE

Bettina adapts and overcomes by:

  • Accepting that there will be times when she fails
  • Facing challenges which feel insurmountable to her.  Verbal communication is her biggest challenge – to get across to those around her what she is feeling and what you need to do to help keep her safe and well.   
  • Being willing to do things that she has not done before.  I still recall the anxieties Bettina had when she first went to the cinema.  It took two or three trips before she began to enjoy this experience which was achieved through her perseverance and courage.
  • Gaining in confidence each time Bettina conquers a new element to her world.  Bettina is now enjoying working on a life skills small holding, alongside new people doing things she has not done before. 
  • Being able to understand that she will make mistakes and that she can learn from them without it being seen as a complete failure and her reaction is now a calm “oh well” and a “never mind”  – although ‘B’ rarely makes the same mistake twice.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  Maya Angelou

6 Tips I have learned from Bettina to Overcome and Adapt

  1. The work and the difference you make is important – so don’t give up.
  2. Face up to those who place obstructions in your way.  Don’t lose faith!
  3. Accept the goal posts always move and life can feel unfair.
  4. Anticipate that things are likely to be different from the original plan.
  5. Reframe it, turning something potentially negative into a positive.  Realign your goals and vision and set new aims and objectives – move on quickly.
  6. Learn from others.  Like Bettina, I am a keen observer of those around me and I watch and learn how people adapt and overcome.  I often choose biographies of people who have reinvented themselves after facing setbacks/failures in their life.  How did they adapt and overcome?

Related: The Art of Reinvention – Leadership in the Raw


Bettina walks into her bedroom and we hear her say “look look look” and “this is new” Joyce has just put up a new list of activities and her new weekly schedule following the lifting of restrictions.  Bettina sits on the end of her bed looking up at her programme and says, “So Happy”  Whatever happens in the future in a world that is still in some turmoil with this horrible pandemic, one thing I am super confident about is that Bettina will always adapt and overcome.

We all have two lives. The second one begins when you realize you only have one.” ~ Confucius

* Space Jam a New Legacy (Trailer)