6 Essential Attributes of Successful Survivalists

Guest post by Sheila at SurvivingSurvivalism.com

image by Cea

Having lived off the grid for the last 7 years, you see ’em come, and you see ’em go.  The dozens of people we’ve seen succeed in this lifestyle and the dozens of people we’ve seen fail has given us a keen eye to the attributes necessary to be a survivalist.  Like we’ve told many people before, no matter how prepared you think you are, you’re gonna go through some changes!  So after many years of observation, below are listed the 6 essential traits every survivalist should possess to be successful.

1. Tenacity (“stick-to-it-ness”).  This more than anything else has beaten many a would-be survivalist.  We knew a young couple from Texas who bought a 5-acre parcel in a very rural, mountain subdivision.  They purchased a camper and a 40′ shipping container and filled them with supplies.  Before they ever made the move, the husband freaked out when he discovered that there were ants on the property!  (Aren’t ants everywhere?)  These weren’t fire ants, just plain old picnic ants, and it was a real problem for him, resulting in their abandoning the property for the comfort of their old apartment.   The ants were just his way out of a situation he never was committed to in the first place.

 As Sun Tzu said, “No one can ever be defeated who has made a strong resolve to win.”

2.  Resourcefulness – In today’s modern world, being resourceful usually means knowing what aisle at Home Depot has that pair of pliers.  What we’re talking about here is true resourcefulness.  Resourcefulness like building a house out of local rocks and local adobe, taking apart another house to use the lumber for your roof.  Resourcefulness like butchering a chicken, foraging for Navajo figs, yucca fruit and pinion nuts, and then creating a glorious dinner with them.  Resourcefulness like seeing the potential in a junker truck or a broken washing machine to be used in a new way.  There is a house outside of Taos that was built entirely out of adobe and the windows from an abandoned truck, total cost for the house, $200 for 20 bags of lime.

 Resourcefulness is thinking outside the box.

3.  Thick Skin – There will be countless people all around you who are more than willing to tell you you’re crazy.  You need to understand that you’re the one who is seeing the world unveiled. Most people are very reluctant to admit that they are a product of television programming. Edward Bernaise coined the term, “programming,” because that’s exactly what he intended.  TV was developed to program society to take certain actions, feel certain emotions, want certain items and live a certain way – and to fear those who do not.

Many people will try to validate their life choices by convincing you that you made the wrong choice, not them.  Also, those who will try to take advantage of you are all too common.  Many people who are conscious enough to be looking for a better way to live tend to be overly charitable.  Be on the look out for those who are on the look out for you.  Being kind is one thing, being a fool is another.

If you’ve been given the gift of a vision of a better life, don’t let someone take that away.

4.  Improvise, Adapt and Overcome – This is the mantra of the U.S. Marines and should be the mantra of every survivalist.  To improvise means to take what you have and use it in unconventional way to accomplish your goals, such as removing the alternator from a car and giving it new life as a generator to power your home.

To adapt means to make course adjustments along the way to accomplish your goal, such as changing your house plans from stick-built to rock construction because rocks are plentiful.  To overcome means to let nothing stand in the way of accomplishing  your goals – to know that you can solve any puzzle put before you, face any foe and triumph.

Be flexible and ready to make adjustments.

5.  Solidarity – Work towards having solidarity with everyone in your party.  Whether you are a family or non-related group, everyone  should be striving towards a common goal.  This is much overlooked but it’s crucial.  I can’t tell you how many times a wife or husband has asked us to convince their spouse of the importance of preparing.  You must all be of the same resolve deep within to be successful.  A disgruntled spouse or family member can scuttle the entire enterprise, whether overtly or covertly, often even below the consciousness of the scuttler.

Have a sincere talk with anyone you plan on joining forces with and make sure everyone is on the same page.

6.  Trust – not trust in foolishness, meant only to create self-sabotage,  but real trust in yourself, in your own abilities.

And trust in a universal energy, a natural law that knows the difference between right and wrong and will lead you towards right, if you listen.

Lisa’s note: As I read over Sheila’s list, it struck me how every one of these qualities are must-haves for every Survival Mom, no matter where she lives. The urban mom who spots an old microwave on the side of the road or spots wild quinoa growing in a field is being resourceful, adaptive, and strong. Many of us face skeptics within the family circle and among our friends, and we’ve learned to stay focused on what we believe is the best course for our family, self-reliance and preparing for uncertain times. Thanks, Sheila, for an insightful article and for giving us this list to guide us.

Dan and Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock  and hosts of the podcast, “Still Surviving with Dan and Sheila”, both available at  http://survivingsurvivalism.com.    For information about their survival community, or for other questions, they can be reached at surviving@lavabit.com  .

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. Lynda says

    What an excellent post. I especially identified with thinking outside the box. Our past life didn’t necessitate this but as we kept track of the economic indicators a few years back(5, actually) we realized there were changes that had to be made and after starting out with simple baby steps have really made great strides. It can be done.

  2. Charley says

    My brother was working at my house one day. He had to go buy a particular item, even though I had something that would have worked just as well. He made the comment that he is a firm believer in using the right tool, and using things for the purpose for which they were intended. I told him that I am a firm believer in making due with what you have and re-purposing anything possible to fit your current need.

    • Ed_B says

      I can see both sides of this argument but suggest that considerable thought be given when tools are involved. Many people in the US are injured every year because they tried to use one tool to do the job that should have been done by another. Some common sense will go a long way towards preventing accidents caused by using an incorrect tool or the right tool incorrectly. Don’t use a convenient chair when you really need to go out to the shed or garage to get a ladder, for example. While a large flat blade screwdriver can work well at opening a can of paint, do not use a chisel for such a job – it’s bad for the chisel and can be bad for you too, if it slips.

  3. says

    My biggest issue on this list is tenacity/sticktoitedness I tend to lose steam on everything I do lol, how ever I dont really ever truly give up on anything, so long term I may be ok 😉

  4. irontomflint says

    About those ants…I can’t speak for Texas, but here in Northeast Ohio ants mean broad leaf plantain nearby.
    Yeah, it’s a weed to most but it’s also edible and it has anti-bacterial properties which makes it a good dressing for skin irritations and/or bug bites. Keeping an eye out for “edible/medicinal” plants is the smart plan. Even if you don’t use them, you’ll have them on hand if they are ever needed.

  5. says

    My friend went to look at property with her husband, son, and granddaughter. The two guys got out and headed up the hill. The friend and her gdaughter just got our and leisurely went up the hill. Halfway up, the two females realized ants were all over them. The guys heard them yelling and started knocking ants off their own clothes.

    Another son who is a forestor or something said that some areas were overrun with ants that would invade houses no matter what you did. Killing them was not even an option since there would be hundreds of acres with an overwhelming population of ants. So, maybe it was not just a few ants the guy could not tolerate. Maybe there was no way to step outside or garden or even sleep at night without having ants all over him.

    My friend and her husband now live in the woods in another location and have not have ants cover them when they step outdoors.

    No, fireants were not the problem with the first location. And, no, they are not people just not cut out for the woods since that is where they live now.

  6. Danica D says

    I have looked and looked. What are Navajo Figs? I live in Northern Arizona and there is a plethera of foods and medicines around- from pinions to mormon tea and more. I am taking a class on native plant preparations and foraging this summer….can’t wait!

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