Do You SISU?

When I was in Crystal Lake, Illinois in July for the picnic-style book launch of The Business of Being, my friend, Lisa Krupp, gave me this pin:

A bit of online research reveals: 

“To the Finnish people, SISU has a mystical, almost magical meaning. SISU is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. SISU is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It is a word that cannot be fully translated.”

I feel honored that Lisa gave the pin to me.

Do you SISU?


76 thoughts on “Do You SISU?

  1. I strive to SISU as much as possible. A close friend handed out these buttons at her 50th birthday party and after reflection I realized YOU, as my teacher, role model and friend are the living example of this word to complete the translation for me.

  2. Interesting topic, as usual Laurie. I’m wondering if the Finns use it to define themselves or only to define others. It feels like one of those attributes we freely give others but it’s not reflexive. Like “wise”. I never hear someone say “I’m so wise; I have wisdom,” SISU, strength of character, seems to be something we’d quickly say about someone else — you have it certainly. But refrain from applying it to the self, as though it can best be recognized by others. Hmmm. I’ll chew on this a bit. Thanks.

  3. Life is teaching me the concept of SISU minute by minute .Now,you and your beautiful pin are inspiring me to really do IT.thanks,Laurie!

  4. I never heard of this word before, Laurie. Like Janet, I would be hesitant to claim that I do this. I recognize the temptation to give in, and know that I am not always strong. But I aspire to be. The longer I live, the more courage I think I feel. Note that I hedged even that statement.

  5. SISU definitely you. Appreciate the stream of comments on whether it is most given to others or for ourselves to embrace.
    If the Finnish see it as mystical or magical, then perhaps it is meant to be a capacity to aspire to throughout our lives.
    If we wake up each day and hold on to a sense of possibilities, then I suspect we have a bit of SISU within us.

  6. This word matches my image of you exactly, Laurie.

    And it defines my aspiration, but many days it’s two steps forward and one step back. Still, I’m advancing in spite of it all. Today is the day I begin reading my manuscript aloud. Even if I get through only part of it, I will have progressed.

    You always inspire. SISU! 🙂

    • Marian — I’m so excited that you’re to the READING OUT LOUD part. Whoooooohooo! You’re going to be amazed at how VALUABLE that is.

      We do it twice. The first time, I read it out loud to Len (then make necessary changes). The second time, he reads it out loud to me (then make necessary changes).

  7. Laurie, what a grand word! As authors, we must possess SISU to commence our writing process and then complete our authorship and share our books with others.

      • Thanks, Laurie. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my new book. Please forgive me for not responding to your Tuesdays with Laurie posts and your thoughtful tweets. My Yellow Brain was preparing for my new “No Bunk” keynote presentation (handout and PowerPoint) for 400 project managers at the PMI Chicagoland Fall Symposium, last Friday. I also have been organizing all the details for the Book Launch on Saturday. Next week, I can take a break. I am looking forward to sending you your “No Bunk” book and a copy of “Princess Shayna” for your precious granddaughter! Thank you for your understanding. Hugs and gratitude, Sheila 🙂

  8. I like your word and definition. We had an exchange student from Finland and he told us that he did not find Americans very SISU at all and he could not explain why very well, but felt that we were more “followers” than “leaders” here. We seemed not to want to think things through or have meaningful discussions and we were a bit afraid of not being liked…. When he went home after a year he told me that I must be lonely because I was such a good thinker and so wise, but not very respected by others.
    I do feel very wise Not so courageous any more.

  9. I try hard to SISU. Learned about it from Finnish BIL years ago. I was in my 30s when I married Bob so was outside the age range for Leo’s classes on the alphabet and numbers he taught to nieces and nephews. So he taught me a few other Finnish traditions. SISU was one of them. Enjoyed seeing the letters again across the lovely flower!

  10. Hi Laurie,

    I’d say there is a fair amount of SISU in my survival of terminal melanoma, and a similar amount in my advocacy of a post scarcity (post money) human society, and I may be deluding myself in that (but I think not).

  11. I certainly aspire to these qualities, Laurie, and hope I can remember SISU…I love that! It’s a good “trigger” for me if I can recall it. Hope that baby granddaughter is doing well. 🙂

  12. Laurie, between nursing a husband with pancreatic cancer, packing up our household for a move back to Georgia, arranging flights and hotel reservations and all the clutter than comes with the job, I’m depending on my Faith to deliver all the SISU I HAVE to have to manage this trip home. Thankfully, at the other end of the Line, I have Family and Church Family and friends to spell me as caregiver from time to time.

  13. Congratulations! Not only are you Sisuing (well, it’s a verb now!), but you’ve published two books, won multiple awards, had a grandchild (ok, not your accomplishment, but you’ll certainly affect that little blue moon, and you’ll have a lot of fun doing that), and now, now, there’s a hurricane named after your dog! Wow!

    Sent from my iPhone

  14. Hi Laurie. Thanks for introducing me to this new word, although I wonder if these qualities are what we refer to as “resilience ” in English? I can see that through my own challenges, that I’ve been becoming more resilient. Recently, I started to wonder whether I’d become too resilient because I wasn’t getting anywhere near as emotional as I used to about stuff. There’s also that great saying: “whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”.
    Best wishes,

      • IN my time, I’ve had extensive OT, physio and psychology and since I had the chemo to treat my auto-immune disease, I’ve been in a weird state of contentment where all the things that used to bother me don’t. Indeed, I’ve decided to up the anti a bit to razz myself up a bit. I am starting to think I became resilient. That’s not to say that I don’t react anymore there’s just an underlying inexplicable sense of peace. That things will work out somehow. So far, so good.
        Best wishes,

  15. Hi Laurie,
    Greetings from the country of sisu. You wrote a nice article here.

    If you’re about to loose the sisu you should go to sauna, another Finnish word, as we do. We have a saying that if the booze, tar and sauna won’t help, it’ll be the end. Now we are at the doorstep of Kaamos (= the period of (winter) darkness (in Lapland), when there are spots in Lapland that you won’t see the sun rising up behind the horizon. Here in my town Tornio the shortage day in a year last less than 4 hours around 21.12.
    All the best to all the people in the world
    If you like to read more about sauna here’s a link:
    and link for Kaamos:

  16. SISU!!! OMG! I couldn’t believe when I saw this on your site! I come from a Finnish background, grandparents/great grand parents came from Finland. Thank you for sharing this and brightening my day.

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