Ran through the 6 with my WOES

Scenic view at Toronto city waterfront skyline at night

Over the long weekend, I got a chance to revisit Toronto, and spent time with my regular crew (Eric, Patrick, Lotar). For those that don’t know, I am born in Toronto, but I never grew up or lived in the city. Frequent short stays, documenting street culture and the hip-hop scene for justalilhype! in previous summers, along with “touristy” trips have made me love and hate this city.

By the way, WOES stands for Working on Excellence, accordingly to Drake.

Why? Because Toronto is a competitive place. Living in the east coast (east of Ontario), and growing up in Vancouver doesn’t teach me too much about being competitive. By simply working harder than everyone else, and focusing on my goals and projects, I was already ahead of my peers. I felt competition in the school though, but they were very common ones such as marks and girl-chasing – which I never cared for when I was in my youth. Toronto is different, it’s competitive in all aspects. If you made in Toronto, you made it.

As I grew older, I felt that I’ve surrounded myself with the right people that are competitive in their own game, and I have been exposed to their hustle and challenges in life. Here are a few groups of people I’ve managed to surround myself around:

  • Rich Kids: How are rich kids competitive? Quite. They compete against other rich kids! No, not just that. I believe growing up with with a ton of capital puts you in a challenging situation. Not only is your life controlled to a certain extent by your parents, it is hard to set a goal to follow through with. I am not sure if there’s even a way to be proud of your accomplishments if you are always covered. Do you have to compete with the successes of your parents? Your siblings? I don’t know. In a way, their biggest competitions is perhaps against themselves. If you think about it, if you grew up in a mediocre family or are not that well off, being competitive is simpler. You start off with nothing to try to build something into it. A lot easier to be proud of what you have accomplished if you started from the bottom
  • Business School Grads: Accountants, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, marketers, etc – the list goes on to what they can accomplish in life after finishing in business schools. These people are trained to be competitive straight out of university. This Wall Street style training when they are hitting the books have made them competitive and step on others to get up the ranks. Think about it, there can only be one C.E.O.
  • Med School Students/Doctors: These people work really hard, or are extremely intelligent. Either way, in Canada – it’s a tough process. From MCAT exams, to medical school interviews, to moving out of your city to attend a medical school that accepted you. The process to become a doctor is not a simple process, and it’s a grind to get there. A lot of discipline is required to wear that white coat, and have folks call you a “Doc”.
  • Creatives: Photographers, artists, musicians, writers, designers. The struggle between making money and art is real. Especially in the 20th century when everyone is a creative. How do you set yourself apart? I feel that I can easily relate to this list, because I am a part-time creative. Sure, you can be competitive in a sense you put art first and take chances to live out fully as an artist – but how do you pay your bills? Successful creatives have the freedom to live off their passion, but it’s a rare fraction of the artist population.
Scenic view at Toronto city waterfront skyline at night
Scenic view at Toronto city waterfront skyline at night

What I felt over the weekend in Toronto was that it’s easier to define success when you set yourself aside from there rest and compete against yourself. Set small comparisons with people in the room, or look simply at where you are at in your life and see where other people within that age group are at. Sure, you might be still behind in certain areas, but look past that, have a goal and identify that in a few years, you’ll still be ahead of the game in a certain ring. Define your competitive ring and you will be in control. Throw anyone in it and fight against your opponent, just surpass him in the way you want – and you have won the fight already.

I have a crew that helps me work on achieving excellence, and most people don’t. I truly feel blessed about who I roll with in my life. I am in control of my competitions. I saw that clearly through the weekend in Toronto.

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