Donna Kim-Brand

What does it mean to win, or lose, for that matter, ‘by a hair’? It means to claim victory by a sliver, a fraction, a tiny amount or ever so slight an advantage.

The sad thing for many is that, history only tends to remember the first place winner of any event, not even the ones who lost out even ‘by a hair’. But equal amounts of effort and excellence have usually been exerted. Everyone entered in the game or competition has usually displayed an acceptable, indeed, paramount degree of skill or effort in order to be there.  Sometimes it’s the luck of the day that determines the winner. Yet, sometimes what distinguishes one participant from another and allows for ‘winning by a hair’ is a drive for perfecting their craft, discovering the nuances, and honing mental mastery leading to excellence over time.

The winter Olympics have recently been played out in Sochi/Russia. Nearly 3000 proud athletes from 88 countries have come to the arena during the opening ceremony filled with hope and expectations, having spent many years in training and competitions. Each delegate comes with their own story of struggle and success that led them to represent their country.

The single delegate from Nepal, for example, is a bricklayer who took 4 months off his work to train and compete as a cross-country skier, and predicts he’ll come in last. But he chose to compete as he wants the youth of Nepal to know about the Olympic spirit. Noble, indeed!

And, what is Vanessa May, known in England as a classical violinist turned pop princess, doing as an Alpine skier in the Thai delegation? Parentage, along with multiple talents and loads of discipline and courage, for sure.

Talk about national cross-overs; many professional athletes known in their sport in one country, return to their country of origin or lineage to compete, such as NHL ice hockey player Sidney Crosby playing for Canada. There are also several athletes born in one country, educated in another and competing for yet another, such as for Paraguay or Toga where their grandparents were born. It’s about identity mostly, with a dash of politics and competitive advantage thrown in which gives them motivation for possibly ‘winning by a hair’.

So what’s the hair connection? Hair is often referred to as one’s ‘crowning glory’. What’s that about? Hair is a way to show off your identity and unique assets in a style that demonstrates your essence. How you show up with your hair cut, styled, colored, covered or even absent tells the world something about you. When you want to ‘win by a hair’, it’s about more than hair itself; it’s the desire to show up and shine; the willingness to put in the time to cultivate mastery of your skill or true self, then share it with your world, or the world.

As the old saying goes, “it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game”. Ultimately that’s true, even though most would prefer to actually ‘win’. One suggestion is to redefine what ‘winning’ really means to you. Another is to stack the deck in your favor by choosing to cultivate your personal sense of self and your craft in life, seeking excellence and mastery, and living life full-out so you win no matter what – even if by a hair.

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