For over a month now I’ve been working extra hard on writing preparedness articles. I love the way they are coming along. But, one question keeps coming back to me…
“What is the most important skill or trait for a prepper?”
Then it changed into…
“What is the most important thing for prepping?”
Either way you look at it, I was trying really hard to answer both of those questions. But, I kept coming up empty handed.
Well, that’s not entirely true…I kept coming up with a long list of “most important.” I had a hard time accepting that I couldn’t identify the most important anything for preppers. I still don’t have a good single answer.
I could always fall back on Situational Awareness (SA). I mean the case for SA is so easy to make. You have to be aware of what is going on around you…before and during an incident. Otherwise, you will either miss that an incident is about to happen, thus failing to properly prepare and respond. Or, you will miss something important during an incident and respond incorrectly or not at all. And of course, missing something important can easily be fatal, especially in the most dangerous, complex, and stressful of incidents.
Then I could make a case that without the skill(s) to deal with the “something important” it doesn’t matter how easily you recognized that something was happening. So, skill is just as important, maybe more so, than SA.
But what about gear? If you see an incident about to occur, that means you have good SA. If you then know what you should do, and are trained to do it, even better. That shows you have a good skill base. But, what if you don’t have any gear or equipment to make good on all your great skills and training?
You know what I am talking about. What if you need to defend yourself against a mob and have no weapon? What about if you need a fire for warmth but have no way to start one? What if you know you need water, know how to find it, and have absolutely nothing to use to filter the water? So, equipment and gear is also vital.
But, if you don’t have the “will” to survive you are just as defeated. Yeah, if you have the skills and gear but not the will to survive…then you are doomed.
Then I could always reach for “community” to be most important thing because no one person or family can provide all the manpower, skills, gear, and equipment for success long term in a grid-down. That may well be true for a simple disaster as well.
So what is most important to preppers?
Well, I think I might have figured it out this morning while was meditating on just this very subject…it is “humility.”
Are you completely let down?
I hope not, give me a chance to explain why this simple answer to an apparently complex question is the right answer.
Before I give you my definition of what humility is, let me share with you what I feel it is not.
I am sure we’ve all met that person, maybe in the mirror, they are the one that really knows-it-all…and let’s you know they know it all. They feel ultimately qualified to do just about everything. They can build a fire with toothpaste, shoot the eye out of a flea at 2000 yards, skin a deer in 20 seconds with only a dull rock, hike with a 100lb pack at 6mph for 2-weeks and no sleep, been a Navy SEAL, got bored then became a Delta operator, can predict the future about anything because they dream, and can heal anyone of any disease with only an oak leaf. And all that…before lunch!
So, we all know that person and I see them as arrogant.
When someone tries to teach them something…they already know it…and more…and better…and for longer. They want to teach the teacher. In other words…they are not teachable. And they normally “on up” anyone else’s story.
So, if that is my impression of the opposite of humility, then what exactly is humility?
To me, humility means a person is teachable. And if you are teachable, then that means whatever you don’t know, you are willing to listen and learn. And that is the most important thing for preppers…humility…the ability to be taught…to listen…to learn.
Before you go off the deep end on me thinking me some raving lunatic, give me a chance to throw a couple of other things at you.
Don’t confuse humility with weakness. Weakness means you can’t or won’t do something. You can be humble and still be very strong, in mind, body, spirit, and will. Weakness usually manifests itself in character. Any ability-based weakness can be overcome through training and experience. Weakness in “character” is tough, although not impossible, to overcome. In my opinion to overcome weakness in character you have to have both a strong desire, or motivation, to overcome that character weakness plus a mentor/example to lead you through it.
Being humble opens the door to many more opportunities. How many people do you know that actually like arrogant people? How many people do you know that enjoy being around arrogant people?
Most of the people that do enjoy the company of arrogant people are themselves arrogant as well. Politicians and their groupies come to mind. Watch how politicians treat each other, watch how their staff members fawn over them. So we know at least two groups of people who enjoy arrogance…politicians and their groupie flunkies.
I have had the opportunity to know some Special Forces guys, most of them were pretty humble on the outside as far as I could tell. Sure, they enjoyed cutting up and razing each other…and me. But, they were not arrogant in-your-face kind of guys bragging and whatnot. I could say the same thing for some of the best firefighters I have ever known…quiet, humble guys. But when the bell sounded, they were some of the best of the best in a fire situation.
Also, don’t confuse humility with lack of competency. Humble people can be very competent in many areas. But, they will also know where they can improve, or learn something entirely new. Just because you are good at hunting, doesn’t mean you are good at explosives. A humble person will know that, and they are more than willing to sit down and be taught what they previously didn’t know.
I guess a good way to look at it…they know that they don’t know…and they are willing to be taught.
What? Yeah, an arrogant person is more like…they don’t know that they don’t know...because they think they already know it all.
Hence, if you know that you don’t know…then you can learn what you don’t know. An arrogant person is more interested in impressing you with what they do know vs. admitting that they don’t know something. Especially if you know what they don’t know.
That was fun!!! I hope you followed me through all of that…I had fun writing it.
OK, back to “humility.”
Don’t confuse meekness with humility. A humble person will tend to not bloviate just for its own sake. When a subject comes up that they don’t know anything about they will usually sit there and learn. And they will ask questions and/or try to apply it to life’s situations to get advice. You try to feed them BS and they will call you out on it. And true, if they get lost they will almost assuredly speak up and ask for an explanation. This is especially true in a tactical situation. They are not meek…they want to know what is going on and they want to figure out their own knowledge gaps. That way they can learn, fill in the gaps, and help ensure mission success. A meek person simply fades away into the background, stays there, and is perfectly content with that condition. A humble person will work to learn and participate to their fullest.
By now you should have a really clear picture of what I feel is the most important “thing” for a prepper…humility.
Humility in terms of a person willing to be taught. And that takes a great deal of confidence in knowing who you are, what you do know, and what you don’t know…but need to learn. You have to be willing to say to yourself, “I don’t know enough about that.” Once you can do that, you are then you are open to being taught and learning the very thing that was holding you back. As a prepper you can’t afford to be held back…that could be fatal to you and/or your family.
My friends, I encourage you to be teachable…to be humble. We can’t know everything, but we can learn anything. Don’t let your ego make you arrogant and unteachable. You can do anything, I am sure of that, and together we can surely handle any problem. Arrogance will only get in the way. Humility will pave the way for success.
Let us all be teachable…humble.