6 Essential Attributes of Successful Survivalists

Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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. They go beyond the typical survival skills list, since what matters most is what lies in your head and in your heart.

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. Be prepared to go beyond a survival skills list, and dig deep into your own creativity and ability to adapt.

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

By this, I don’t mean to 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.

Guest post by Sheila, a survivalist living in New Mexico with her husband and son.

23 thoughts on “6 Essential Attributes of Successful Survivalists”

  1. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Yeah, and speaking of the correct use of tools…. get your finger away from that trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

  3. 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. 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. Practical Parsimony

    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.

      1. @ann says: Well, honestly she is not being mean at all. In fact I would like to congratulate and thank her immensely. She taught me more than all the collegiate courses I took in psychology, by saying, “Be on the look out for those that are on the look out for you.” That is a simple, but brilliant statement, and would save lots of people lots of trauma through all of life’s endeavors, if we would just heed the message. Blessings, (and I’m on the look out for you. lol)

  6. 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!

    1. Watch out for those cute little fuzzy thing poking out of the Navajo Figs..they are stickers and good luck getting them out of your hands without tweezers. The fruit is delicious..but do be careful.

  7. You are not fooling anyone! It’s obvious by the wiley smile on her face, and the obvious long barreled shotgun in her hand that she has finally treed her husband. Poor soul, such a long way to fall. thanks for the insight and excellent article.

  8. I have never heard of Navaho figs, this must be a regional name. Here in Texas, we call it prickly pear fruit or tuna (what it’s called in Mexico). Also about the ants, there are several kinds of ants that would keep me off a piece of land. Some will harm people and animals, others will eat most any living green thing you plant.

    1. The Survival Mom

      He was probably just looking for an excuse to head back home and a setting in which he was more comfortable!

  9. The first year we were living on our property, I swore we had built on an ant burial ground. They came in droves, and we could not prevent them or get rid of them. My husband sprayed around the outside of the house, which only drove them inside the house faster. The kids and I finally evacuated (went on a trip) for a week, and he sprayed inside the house while we were gone. I hate spraying, but we were really that desperate. They finally died off or abandoned us. Now, I realize there is a season to ants, at least here. June-August, they come and come and come. I know how the Egyptians must have felt in Exodus. No amount of cleaning keeps them away. We make sure everything is closed up and sealed as tight as possible. Nothing is left on the floor. They counters are wiped constantly. Then, one day just as you think you’re going to lose your mind, they’re gone. We still spray outside the house because we’ve had them short out the AC, nothing short of a level 5 emergency in July in Texas. Yeah, I hate ants on a level never before imagined.

    1. The Survival Mom

      I’ve lost contact with Sheila, unfortunately. Her website has been taken down, so she is possibly not blogging anymore.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *