The Art of Persuasion: Present One Improved Unit at a Time

by Todd Walker

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Two teenagers went to high school together. These two young men were very much alike. They played on the same sports teams, got good grades, graduated together, dreamed of the future, and went off to college.

On a warm July night, after 30 years of not seeing each other, they reconnected at their high school reunion.

Their lives had turned out very similar. They were happily married, had children, and both men, it turns out, had become teachers. But that’s where the similarities stopped. One resembled his school picture. The other did not.

What made the difference?

All those years, 4 kids, and 100 + pounds later, I didn’t recognize my once close friend. Then his voice boomed…

“What’s up, Spanky!”

“OMG, that’s you!?” I almost said out loud, as we spent time catching up and toasted our high school antics.

Have you ever wondered, like I did that night, what makes two people with similar backgrounds, intelligence, and dreams turn out differently? It wasn’t that my buddy didn’t understand what was causing his weight to explode. He’s a very smart guy. The difference for all of us is not knowledge, but how we apply what we know.

My friend had changed physically. So had I. I use to have hair on my head. But physically, I’m at my high school football weight. I actually feel I’m in better shape than when I was 18. And no, it’s not because I have superior genes or a high fat-burning metabolism. It’s just that I started taking responsibility for went into my mouth.

Before you think I’m lowering the boom on my good friend, stop. I know the place he’s in. Just three years ago, I was 50 pounds over my high school weight. My joints ached. I suffered from IBS, battled constant heart burn, and had very little energy. How did I turn that crappy life into a health optimizing lifestyle?

I improved the only unit I had control over – ME.

You are the only unit you can improve. Your body, your happiness, your health, your preparedness, your career, your skills, your knowledge, your dreams, your passions… are YOURS. Your responsible. In our blame-someone-or-something-else culture, scapegoats are easily found – for any and all scenarios.

Saying the unsayable

“It’s not my fault” are the last words of losers. Harsh words, I know. But someone has to say the unsayable.

Is it really your spouse/significant other that’s holding you back from living your dream?

Is it your responsibility to convince loved ones, friends, and co-workers of anything – especially prepping? Maybe not. Surely you’re not suggesting that we take this non-direct approach when trying to persuade others on the importance of preparedness and self-sufficiency, do you? That’s exactly what I’m saying.

In an earlier post, I asked for real life experiences with persuading friends and loved to join you in your journey to preparedness. You can read the response in the comment section here. The main theme I got from y’all was to live by example. This may be your best option.

We’ve all got our own reasons for living as prepared as possible. However, I’ve begun to look at it in a different way completely. I’ll share my approach at the end of this article. But first…

Let’s evaluate the effectiveness of direct approaches of persuasion. 

1.) Stab ’em with a harpoon. In this method, you stand on the deck of your ark and throw a harpoon into the school of fish swimming by in the sea of ignorance. With luck and spear chucking skills, you’ll real one into to safety. Miss and they all swim by and are lost forever.

How’s the harpoon method been going for you?

2.) You had me at hello. This approach works for folks who don’t need a lot of convincing. They already know and trust you. Or you were referred to them by someone they respect. When I invested in real estate, my mentor always said, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

It’s an easy “sell.” They buy on your first conversation. But when they dig deeper and weight the costs, they sometimes run away.

3.) The yellow highlighter. I know. You can’t even read the word “yellow” when its yellow. But you’ve all seen this method in ads for merchandise or political flyers. This letter is sent out to as many people as possible in hopes of converting a small percentage. The yellow letters detail the important stuff on why you should buy. The problem with this traditional method is it’s traditional. People are smarter than they look sometimes. Savvy folks need more than the fancy color your using. These guys and gals respond to logic and reason.

Do what the sign on your truck says

Millions of people are starting to wake up to their need to prepare and build self-sufficiency into their lives. But when your spouse, parent, or child looks at you as if you have three heads when the subject of prepping comes up, it may be time to try a new strategy.

Here’s what I mean.

In practical terms, be the change you want to see. If the sign on your truck reads “Sherpa’s Plumbing and Heating”, do what your sign says. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a prepper, prep. Plumbers plumb – writers write – preppers prep.

In other words, talk is cheap. If all you do is talk about being prepared, you influence no one. You’re not leading. You’re just taking a long walk by yourself. You look back and nobody is following.

Those closest to you will see your improved life (health and fitness, self-reliance, resilience, etc.) and will either choose to change or not. Your job is to be there if they show interest. Hitting them over the head with The Encyclopedia of Country Living doesn’t work. They want the real deal in living color.

When we boil all this down to simplest form, all we can do to change anyone’s attitude is to present one improved unit.

That unit is you.

What’s your approach? Let us know in the comment section.

Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Art of Persuasion: Present One Improved Unit at a Time

  1. Honestly, God just keeps putting newbie preppers in my path in ways that I could not have imagined. It is such a blessing to be a source of encouragement and knowledge for a few women who have become good friends who are also on the “preparedness track”. It is very fulfilling for me to be a mentor. Also, one of the biggest ways for me to reach people in an indirect way is through Facebook groups. I was a Facebook hater for a few years and pretty much never logged on because I felt that it was a waste of my time. Then I learned about Facebook groups and I have connected in real ways with so many people in my area. Here are a few of my groups: a homeschooling group that I created for my area, a homesteading group that I joined with lots of people who share their homesteading wisdom and some even offer to teach people (lots of times for free) the skills that they have (i.e. butchering) or swap seeds, a Paleo diet group that I started (I’ve offered a few free cooking classes), a natural parenting group (cloth diapering, home birth, etc.), a global unschooling group, a backyard chicken group, a regional wild edibles group, a global wild edibles group & a freeskilling group that I created (where I arrange free classes for various skills taught by me or others who wish to share their skills for the betterment of their neighbors) & a service learning group that I created (mostly for older homeschoolers). I also met some closet preppers when I arranged an informal co-op for bulk purchases from a regional company. I just emailed my acquaintances and asked if anyone was interested in buying together in bulk.


  2. Great article! Well hopefully my blog is reaching a few. I guess that is one way I help people prep! I often get asked though, how to get other people on board when it comes to preparing and I think this is a great article to refer them too. My husband went from being totally resistant to everything, and now he is building our garden. Huge transformation, but I think it’s like you said – you be the change you want, and hopefully they’ll notice and join in. It took a few years, but there’s no more fighting about prepping🙂


    • PH, your blog is off the chain good! Very practical advice and entertaining at the same time…something that’s hard to achieve these days. You are reaching more than you know🙂

      That’s great to hear about your husband walking with you on the y’alls journey now. Be the change – see the change.
      As far as sharing, by all means. Share any info from our site you’d like. Freely. I’d like to share some of your work occasionally here as well. Just tweeted your post about organization and building a binder. Funny, I just dug out two binders from our cabin the other day. Lost a lot of time thumbing through old articles and how-to stuff. It was like Christmas in April.


  3. You’re so sweet. I think I should re-name my blog to something like ‘Ramblings from a Scatter-Brained Prepper’ – that’s how I feel at least when I’m posting🙂 I’m so all over the place and don’t make sense half the time!

    Thanks for referring to my binder article and posting it on twitter! I definitely will be linking up some articles from your site! I love all the practical advice you have!


    • Don’t change a thing – loving your style, writing and otherwise! Especially like your “Hot Housewives” advice! I’ve got me one of those😉
      Please share any and all you think might be useful on your site.


  4. Great post. I’m experiencing many of these issues as well..


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