How Is Your Resilience Doing?

Tiina Kivelä Pontresina

I don’t hate you for failing. I love you for trying.

© Marge Simpson

For years I thought I am a bad loser. For hating the disappointments so much.

When still competing in orienteering – in the most unsexiest sports in the world btw – I always hated it when I lost. I hated it when I did a mistake, got lost, chose the wrong route, was too slow, whatever way I failed that time. (fyi I did fail a lot… wasn’t so much of racer in the end because also didn’t really enjoy winning others – more like testing my own limits was the thing and still is)

And the same with exams, job interviews, break ups, failed switchbacks on bike and crashes on skis. I just hated hate the disappointment. The awful feeling in the chest, the wasted chance and dead end. For not living up to the expectations and not getting what I want. While others get the jobs, prices, praise and good shots.

And for that, I thought I was a bad loser.

But then. I realised that maybe it wasn’t so much of a being bad at losing. I mean, with this track record I am rather pretty damn good at failing. No problem here screwing the relationship, not getting the job and especially, no problem crashing the bike at the next turn. (or well, most likely in there I don’t even ride the tricky trail in the first place)

Oh no. I am good at losing but also – to my recent surprising revelation – I am pretty good at hopping back on the bike and trying again.  No matter how many times I have failed and been said no (stubborn, some say) I keep on trying. Not with everything though, but enough many things still. I have resilience, I really do.

Oh boy, do I sometimes just keep on trying and fighting for the things I want and need. Grasping the opportunities and keep on knocking the doors I want to open. 

But why that, you may wonder?  Especially if and when you know the situation familiar to me too. The moment after losing, failing, whatever it is that makes you disappointed with yourself and thinking that what’s the point of trying, if it always ends like this.

Or even worse, when failing when just before you have said to everyone that you gonna handle this, you so gonna win this. Oh the disappointed and shame…

Tiina Kivelä Creative

Well, no matter what I keep on trying and showing up.

That because especially as the privileged white chick with education, brains and Finnish passport there’s always opportunities. There’s always something else to go for and there’s almost always some help and reason to continue available.  And there’s always something else I don’t fail and can be proud of. Something which shows that I can and I have the potential. Achievements and moments of success. 

And like the most lame self help book or life coach, I’d say the same goes to you. You just need to keep your eyes open for them. There’s the reason you started in the first place. The things you want and need. And the things you do succeed with. And the achievements you make and have made.

Yes, there is. And before you say no, not always, I say that yes I know not everybody on this planet is this privileged. But as long as you are reading this and seeing the pics, you are a prime example of the achievements and possibilities and success available.

You have learned to read. You have a computer or mobile device to read this from. Etc.

 Like already said, I know I am pretty good at failing myself. And disappointing myself.  Especially the past year has been bumpy. I have lost things, jobs, fights, negotiations, people, nerves and while not crashed with bike and skis I have failed with things so bad that haven’t hand the chance to bike and ski in the first place. Well done, Tiina. Well done. (read: sarcasm)

Yet, I have kept on trying. First, with the help of my natural Finnish strength of sisu. And second, with my tendency to think (or well this is very much because the amazing people around me who remind me of this) – at the moment of failure or a bit after it – of the good things in my life. And especially the achievements I do have made and which I can still make.

The things which show that even if I failed at this one thing now, I have succeeded in something else and done good enough.

linguistically speaking, the concept of sisu goes back 500 years or more. It can refer to “stoic determination, hardiness, courage, bravery, willpower, tenacity and resilience.” It’s “an action-oriented mindset.” You don’t brag about having sisu; you just “let your actions do the talking.

© Peter Marten,



Tiina Kivelä Creative Matterhorn

I hope I would have a magic cure for disappointments though. Some kind of remedy. But unfortunately, I don’t. I also hope I would have time and energy to find and read all the scientific data and doctor’s orders for this. But I don’t have that either. (though for building resilience and for good references, I recommend the books Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, and Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown)

Luckily though, I have found the above mentioned way which works for me and which might be worth sharing with others too.

It’s thinking of (after the fail) the marathon I did 2 years ago. It’s thinking of the master’s thesis I submitted (and got approved) on time. It’s going for a run and getting a Strava segment crown or running your fastest mile of the month.

It may also be someone saying thank you for your help and effort and saying wow you did great, well done. Giving the praise and approval which you deserve whenever you do good. And yes, many times this means first helping other people. Being there for them and doing good whenever possible. But if and when that’s not possible, then it’s just you telling yourself: You got this, girl.

I have failed and someone might be better than me in this and that. I might also fail tomorrow too and the day after. Someone else might be the choice of the love of my live. Someone else might get the job I so much wanted and needed. But no one else ran that marathon 2 years ago. No one else has that Strava segment crown. And no one else is ready for the new opportunities like I am.

This is not a magic trick and it might not work for everyone. But it’s good enough for my life. The kind of which makes me try tomorrow again. Maybe I fail again, but I fail good. 

And you know, these pics in here are from days when I’ve climbed up the mountains and stared at those peaks having just failed miserably with something. Having just disappointed myself and/or others and had others disappoint me. Badly.

But then at the same time, I have also been the lucky girl who’s been in these beautiful places and done so well that she has gotten herself there. All the way from remote Arctic.

So how about next time you fail you think of how you even got the chance to fail and how well you did at some other moments?

And how many other opportunities there are waiting for you to get up again and try better.

Tiina Kivelä Creative Disappointment

Where: Switzerland