Thursday, 20 January 2011

Turning Success into Failure

In life, the gap between success and failure, winning and losing is often a small one. But for Finns, that gap is tiny.

A few days ago, I was reading a text in Finnish about tina. The text explained how this Finnish tradition uses solidified tin to predict the events of the coming year: “rikkaus, rakkaus ja menestys” (wealth, love and success).

However, as I read this out loud, I pronounced the word “menestys” as “menetys”, thus instantly transforming the prediction into “wealth, love and loss”. This is clearly not quite the same, though I guess it would be in keeping with the Finnish aversion to over-exhuberance: “this year you may get rich and receive plenty of love, but don't you get too excited because you might lose it all!”

So the difference between success and loss in Finland, is just one little letter “s”. 

This got me thinking... Is it possible that this small difference might explain the terrible performances of the Finnish national football (soccer) team under Scottish manager Stuart Baxter? Could it be that instead of urging the team to success, he inadvertedly told the players to “go out there and lose”? They certainly did that very well!

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