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One Factor Of Success: Believing Nothing Is Impossible

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it.

One Factor Of Success: Believing Nothing Is Impossible

By P.J. Malone

When you believe that nothing is impossible, everything becomes possible. Imagine the levels of success in every society if each individual approached life with certain attitudes or ways of thinking and behaving that guaranteed their success.

For fashion mogul Peter Nygard, nothing is impossible to achieve. That belief is born out of the Finnish principle of ‘sisu’.

Sisu represents the ability to withstand a great disadvantage and yet overcome through sheer determination. Sisu is described as representing the Finns national character. Sisu spurs a Finn on to be brave, resolute and determined to fight against all odds.

As stated by Peter Nygard, “The most important asset I have is enormous energy and staying power, and my training from past history from my parents who gave me the strength for never quitting—we call that in Finland ‘SISU’ staying with it right to the end!”

As a little boy, Peter Nygard watched his father demonstrate this principle.

Not long after emigrating, Peter’s father Eeli found himself unemployed with a family to feed. He became determined to find a new opportunity as a baker, but he had a challenge. He didn’t yet speak English.

Still, Eeli made his way to Winnipeg to seek new work. It was 302 kilometers away or 180 miles from Deloraine. While walking down the street looking for work, Eeli spotted a bakery truck making deliveries. Without hesitation, Eeli took off after the truck running as fast as he could to keep up. Naturally, he was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, Eeli made a note of the last street he saw the truck on and the time the truck had passed.

The next day, Eeli returned to that street and waited for the bakery truck making its deliveries to show up to that spot. Once again he took off after the bakery truck until he lost it. In true sisu fashion, this action was repeated each day until Eeli successfully ended up in front of the bakery. He then walked into the bakery, and with his broken English declared, “Me strong. Me want work.”

With the help of a reference letter from the ever-helpful Reverend Harvey of Deloraine, Eeli was able to land a job at the bakery working evenings. It was a three-month job that turned into a fifteen-year job.

Now that’s sisu! And what better lesson can there be for a boy hearing of his father chasing down a truck to learn the principle that nothing is impossible?

Peter Nygard also had the example of Grandpa Nygård—who was missing both legs and one arm—to learn from. Grandpa Nygård is described in the book The Child From Lampossi: The Inspiring Story of Hilkka Nygård, 2015:

When gangrene caused by diabetes had attacked his leg many years before, his legs had been amputated, one just above the knee and the other slightly higher. He had custom made leather covers that served as shows for his stumps, and he shuffled about on these holding canes in each hand.

When gangrene later attacked his fingers he was without medical help nearby; but knowing what had to be done to prevent the spread of the gangrene and save his life, he had performed his own amputation, cutting off his finger as deftly as any surgeon. Eventually most of one whole arm was affected and its final complete amputation, thankfully, was performed in a hospital.

Grampa Nygard was amazing. Disabled? Not in his opinion. Complain? Not that anyone ever heard. With his one good arm and leather pads on the stumps of his legs, he walked, climbed stairs, drove horses and did his work. (page 82)

Grandpa Nygard drove a horse drawn flat board trailer on a regular basis to sell his wife’s homemade items in nearby communities. When Peter and Liisa were living at the farm, they would accompany him on these sales trips.

With a father and grandfather demonstrating such sisu spirit to Peter Nygard while he was growing up, is it any wonder that nothing is impossible to this self-made man?

Written by Jones Bahamas

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