Sisu – The Unfair Advantage – Do You Have It?




Do you know what Sisu is?

Did  you know that  we Finns are born with an almost unfair advantage in different sports  and also in business. In Finnish it’s called sisu and  it is a bit  difficult to explain. Perseverance might be the best English word but there is a lot more to sisu than perseverance. Words like stubborn, determination, to never complain, attitude, tenacious are other words used to explain sisu. 

When  I  checked Google for the word I found several videos on Youtube on the  subject. There was one that was really outstanding by Christoffer Weiss. I watched it 2 times and 1 more now when finishing this article.  Here is the link to Youtube:

The start is a bit slow but keep watching….it will be interesting. A lot more interesting than my notes about it :-).

He  talks about the fact(?) that it might be true that we Finns are not  known for our marketing and branding skills. He compare some Swedish and  Finnish brands and the Swedish ones are more known at least to his  audience. It is probably true :-).

Then he is telling the story  about his grandfather when he was in the second war war. He was badly  injured and the army doctor had to make the though decision:

“This one is gone…”

Then the Finnish SISU kicked in: “NO, I AM NOT DONE YET!!”

He  survived and lived with a prostheses years after. Ha had a lot of pain but  his answer to the questions was: “There is always someone who’s got  things worse than me”.

A wonderful attitude.

My  own grandfather, Uno, was also in 3 wars. He never wanted to talk about  the experience but I understood that the only way to understand, was to  participate.

Uno also had a fantastic attitude to life. I hope that I have inherited some of his wisdom and that I can pass it to my sons and my grand children.

Is   sisu something only Finns have. Certainly not. But I think it is a  good tradition and maybe Finns talk about it more than in other  countries.  I live in Sweden now and I have lived in Norway for 2 years  but in these countries there isn’t anything like sisu. Talking about the  advantage in sports might not be true when looking at Norway’s success  in winter sports. It seems that the Finnish sisu isn’t enough to beat  the Norwegians in cross country skiing.

Actually I don’t  know if there is something comparable in another country. Please let me  know if you  have an idea about something like sisu.

I want to finish this with the wonderful and inspiring words from Christoffer Weiss grandfather:
“We  have a responsibility to not repeat actions that lead to conflict, to  not repeat words that lead to hatred, to not repeat thoughts that lead  to misunderstanding and separation, but live from a level of love,  understanding, unity and humor.”

We all have it – sisu

About the author, Erik Astrand

I write about healthy aging, being able to play with grandchildren, and having an active life after retirement. Real easy-to-follow tips for a long healthy life.

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