Sisu Begins Where Perseverance Ends


Three years ago I thought that “Next year will be easier”. It wasn’t. Two years ago I thought that “Next year will be easier”. It wasn’t. This year? No, it wasn’t either. Unfortunately.

Would I change something about the last 3 or 5 years? No. Absolutely nothing.

On one hand I feel that I’m a human wreck right now, but on the other hand, I feel mentally stronger than before – exactly thanks to the things that I’ve put myself go through during the past years, especially growth. Growing has been painful -as it always is in life- but oh boy it is beautiful and empowering too! 

However, the hard fact is that the next year will be…well, hard. With my company, I live fateful times. Also, because of the experiences during the past years, chronic physical pain has become my daily companion and lost self-esteem is the reality of my life

To start a new year in this kind of situation is not ideal in any way. 

Honestly, I thought that I used already my Finnish sisu in the past but when I was sitting in my kayak on this cloudy November day I realized that it is not so. Naturally, sisu has played a role, but now I see that so far it’s been more my perseverance that I’ve utilized. 

Next year is the year when I’m going to use all sisu that is running in my veins to lift myself up. 

SISU (noun)

“Extraordinary determination, courage, and resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to see beyond their present limitations and into what might be. Taking action against the odds and reaching beyond observed capacities. An integral element of Finnish culture, and also a universal capacity for which the potential exists within all individuals.”

-Emilia Lahti, Sisu researcher-

But. But there’s one thing about sisu that is good to keep in mind. As amazing thing as it is it can also turn against you if -in the name of sisu- you just try to push yourself through the things you want to win.   

As important as it is to utilize the sisu spirit inside you, it is to listen and act compassionately towards yourself and others while reaching for your goal. That is the way not only to make your fight ligther but also to build it on a more sustainable base.

One great example of this behavior is Emilia Lahti, who is not only sisu researcher but also a Finnish woman behind Sisu Not Silence project that fights to end the silence globally around emotional and physical abuse and interpersonal violence. I haven’t met Emilia in person, but the inspiration that she gives to me -and many other people- is big. 

Another inspiring Finnish woman for me is Mirja Kärnä here in Saimaa. Breaking my way through the frozen lake to open waters with a kayak was a small thing but Mirja walked for seven months, adding up to 3 650 kilometres from Finland to Spain and nowadays inspires people to grow with the help of nature just like I.

Do it small or big, you can use nature for your growth and in finding your sisu. Nature is powerful and when you can win yourself, you will find strength in yourself that you may not have even known to exist.

As I said my winter kayaking was a small thing, took only a couple of hours, but already that experience helped me to gather my sisu for the next year. Maybe it wasn’t that small thing after all? 

(For the best experience, please watch this 360° video in Youtube app with virtual reality headset and remember to turn on HD! Tap on Youtube icon in the player below or open this link in your Youtube app.)

Support SISU NOT SILENCE project!

Starting on January 18th, 2018, Emilia Lahti will run 2400 km across the length of New Zealand, averaging over 50 ultra marathons in 50 days, to address interpersonal violence – one of the most pervasive yet under-recognized human rights issues in the world.

Support Emilia’s running campaign here.

If you’re interested reading more about sisu, I recommend this article “Finnish work SISU in Key to Success”.

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