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.”
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.
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.
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.