How self-reliant are you? Give this some thought

I am sure one of the first things that came to your mind right now was your financial position. A strong financial position does not mean you are self-reliant. A strong financial position is merely one of many outcomes or results of being self-reliant.

“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family” ( It is the ability to rely on one’s own powers and resources to take care of yourself (and your family where applicable) without the need to rely on the resources of others. So, how self-reliant are you?

Why be self-reliant?

Self-reliance relates to your ability to make important decisions yourself, to find solutions to challenges and to recognise opportunities that will improve your position. It is the ability to learn from one’s own experiences and self-correct when necessary.

“Self-reliance begins with a vision of what you can become” – Joseph W Sitati

What are the 5 basic principles of self-reliance?

  1.  Seek learning and education: This does not refer to formal education alone. Formal education is extremely important, but all forms of education are in some way vital to your ability to be self-reliant. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family and realised very early on that I had to pay attention to the difference between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have-nots’ if I wanted to end up being a ‘have’. Around the time I was in high school, the easiest thing to spot was the difference an education made. At that age I just assumed any of my friend’s parents that are wealthy all had university degrees or diplomas of some sort. But as I got older I learned that some of them were just really good at what they did with no formal education after high school. While some choose university, others choose to put the same amount of time and effort into mastering their crafts with no academic background but are equally successful. The thing that happens when you master your craft or get a formal education, is that your eyes open to opportunities that you would otherwise miss. People that choose not to further their learning in a formal or informal way usually attribute the success of those that do to luck, good timing or their networks. Ironically, with enough time spent learning and working, you do get good at timing, networking and occasionally receiving the right amount of luck. Most importantly, learning is an ongoing process that should not end.
  2.  Work and take responsibility: This principle flows right off the back of seeking learning. You cannot learn and then sit back. You need to apply what you learn. You need to take the theory, go out there, try things, make mistakes and see what works and what doesn’t in practice. You need to become accountable to yourself and others – in other words, practice what you learn and put a product or service into your market, make some money, get feedback, find ways to improve and make the world a better place for the people who consume what you offer. Don’t increase your intellectual capacity and then lock it in the cupboard. Part of self-reliance is also to become responsible for something in society.
  3.  Manage your time: Rise early. Every one of the people I consider an influencer or teacher in my life, all get up early. It gives you an immediate head start on the day. Plan. To have a successful day, you need to plan your day – whether this is in the morning after getting up or the night before, you need to plan. If you are a leader, manager, entrepreneur or anyone who works independently, you cannot start your day in chaos. If you report to someone, you also cannot sit around waiting for instructions before you do anything. Learn to plan your day in advance so that you are not dependent on those around you to have a successful day. Reflect. Close your day off by reflecting on how you spent your time and what you accomplished on the day. This serves a double purpose – first, you can plan your next day and secondly, learn from what didn’t go so well on the day.
  4.  Manage your money: Seems pretty obvious, right? Most people don’t get this right though. Why are there so many jokes and comments from the middle to the end of the month about money? Why do most people live for that deposit into their account at the end of the month? Because it is a real problem. To be clear, money is not the problem – most people’s ability (or discipline) to manage their money is the problem. Unfortunately, it is something schools do not teach properly (yet). So, it is your responsibility to learn about money. To learn how it can work for you. It is your responsibility to understand the nature of money if you want to be self-reliant. Money management is a topic on its own, but some of the basic things you need to start doing is prioritise your spending, reduce your debt and do not buy what you can’t buy cash – this obviously excludes a car and home.
  5.  Solve problems and make decisions: This one ties into working and taking responsibility. Once you have learned, you start to practice. Once you start to practice you will find failure, challenges and opportunities to learn more. Keep moving forward. Build your self-reliance and reduce your dependence on others by setting options for yourself and learning from what works and what doesn’t. Self-reliant people set options and know how to tap into their resources to make a decision. Those resources could be people around them, peers or mentors. A self-reliant person can go to someone else for help and present current options with justifications for those options, then seek guidance. People who are not self-reliant will always need others to make decisions for them.

In summary, to be self-reliant you need to learn on a continuous basis, it doesn’t stop. You need to be clear from the start about what it is you want to achieve in life and take the steps to learn what you need to in those areas. The context to what you learn is very important when it comes to execution. Watching National Geographic all day can teach you a lot, but if it has no relevance to what you do on a daily basis, you will be dependent on others to get by. You need to continuously apply what you learn to get better at it. You need to teach someone else what you learn to get better at it. Take steps to self-assess, exercise a healthy amount of critical self-reflection. This will give you an idea of how you are progressing to meet the goals you set for yourself. And finally, remember that self-reliance does not mean you can do everything alone. Self-reliance is the ability rely on one’s own powers and resources – part of those resources being people around you that you need to go to from time to time for help and guidance and being that resource to someone else at times. After all, we’re on this journey together, but we all need to carry our share of the load.

“Ne te quaesiveris extra.” (Do not seek for things outside of yourself) – Ralph W Emerson


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