Influence Feb. 2017

The topic this week was influence. Influence is defined as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. To begin one of the Chain Reaction Coordinators opened up the assembly with a statement.

“We like to think that we take in all the available information and consider all the options because we want to make the best possible decision. But the reality is in our ever increasingly overloaded lives, we do not and physically cannot consider every possible option when there are infinite possibilities. So we need shortcuts and the experts on this topic have identified six.”

Reciprocity- People are obliged to give back to others the form of behavior, gift, or service they have received first

Scarcity- People want more, of what they can get less of

Authority- People follow the lead of those who they perceive to be credible, knowledgeable experts 

Consistency- People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said, done. In other words we don't like change. 

Liking- People prefer to say yes to those that they like.

Consensus- People will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. 

These six short cuts inform and influence our decisions and judgement on everything, from the most mundane daily chore to the most daunting of tasks. Of the six, Consensus was highlighted for deeper discussion and examination because Bermuda is a very socially driven society. As a result the cost afforded those that go against the group is high, even if it is in the best interest of that person who does so.  

The themes that were explored  were:

We are influenced by a group whether we know it or not

What are those Influences?

There are Good and bad consequences of those influences

We need to Recruit the influences in our lives that can propel us to where we want to go

To help with the lesson of influence, two guests shared their stories as a sort of case study and example for the students. These are real people who live and work in Bermuda at respective jobs whose stories contain how they once were part of respective groups that weren't going to help but hinder them.  

The Guest Speakers

Kim "Nicky" Fox was born and raised in Bermuda.  Nicky got caught up with the wrong crowd in secondary school. What started as smoking cigarettes and stealing a drink here or there while in high school, turned into trying harder drugs when she graduated and started working. She began to gravitate towards the party life and the people that could provide her with the things she wanted; men, older men. After a few years out of school and still hanging around with the wrong people she became a functioning addict.  In her addiction she had three children who she loves very much, but as a result her mother would have to care for them because she was not able to. As she watched her children grow, she saw as her first born, her son began to be pulled into the life of "the streets". A few years passed of this before she watched her son begin to make wiser choices and leave that life behind. This was short lived as Nicky's son would go on to be murdered not for anything he had recently done but because of his old affiliations. Nicky tells her and her son's story as a warning to students about blindly following the crowd. She will be eleven years sober in 2017 and has made a complete turn around.

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Brunel Bienvenu's full time job is a Youth Ministry Director in a local church. He was born in Brooklyn two a mother and father from Haiti. After his parents divorced when he was thirteen he began looking for a community for family. He found it in a group of boys who he knew from the neighborhood and attended school with and they all became friends. He mentioned to the students that after a year or two he would realize his group of friends was a gang. It all became very real at a house party when he was staring down the barrel of a gun and in the resulting mayhem on person died.  At this point he opted to change his life starting with the people he surrounded himself with. He got his GED outside of school and went to college. He would go on to graduate with a diploma having earned a Bachelor and Masters degree in criminal justice. He went on to find his passion for sharing his faith with college students.

The assembly was concluded with challenging the students to see where they wanted to be and to surround themselves with the people who will help them get there. To take an honest look at your group of friends will help with where ever your dreams will take you. 

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