College presents us with the greatest density of resources that we will ever know. Experts in any field reside here and the university is brimming with advisors and support staff whose sole purpose is to help us succeed. There lies the greatest enigma that no one can help answer, what is success? How do we define it now and how will our definition change in a time where every dawn brings a new disaster? No one can answer that for you, but I believe everyone faces at least one common obstacle on their quest for success – ambiguity.

Ambiguity is that fog of uncertainty that clouds the path to success. If any of us hope to find success, we must learn to chart our way through this fog. As noble as it may seem to storm in, suffer then finally succeed, there is an easier way. Ambiguity, despite its inherent nature, is always composed of the same few components. If you can anticipate these components and come ready with your response you will find success with less strife.

Component 1: Chaos

The universe is defined by entropy, and our lives within it are no different. We know our lives are most commonly filled with a specific flavor of chaos: disorganization. If we know we will encounter disorganization we must preemptively prepare a response. For us at UD, that response comes in the form or advisement. Everyone at UD has unique and useful knowledge, from a student’s review of a professor to an advisor’s wisdom in course selection, no one’s experiences can be disregarded as “worthless”.  Talk to students who have taken the course you wish to take and ask them what they thought of the professor. If you understand how the professor runs his/her class you can format your actions accordingly.

Component 2: Human Error

We all know people are not perfect but few actually take that into consideration before taking action. When a class is composed of a professors, TAs, preceptors, lab coordinators, and other staff, you can anticipate having at least some errors or inconsistencies due to miscommunication. If you know that will happen, prepare for it. I combat this by meeting with each staff member separately to understand what they value academically and emotionally as well as how they communicate with the other members of the staff. If I know how one person grades or one person is consistently out of step I can anticipate problems and clean up issues before they arise. This does not make any specific person’s knowledge, time, or opinion any less valuable. All it means is that it will take extra effort on your part to understand their thoughts and more often than not you will benefit from that extra effort.

Component 3: Failure

This is by far the hardest component of ambiguity to come to terms with. The failure we face can be caused by many factors, but I choose to look at failure on my terms. It can be easy to say failure came from human error or disorganization on the part of others but in the end it doesn’t affect them nearly as much as it affects you. With that in mind, you have to look at every failure as a consequence of your actions. It doesn’t matter whether it was or not, but you only have control over your emotions and your actions so anger towards anyone else is not useful. Sometimes failure is truly a consequence of your actions. When that times comes – and it will – you have to be ready. That preparation comes in the form of building a reputation of dedication, hard work, and responsibility. If everyone understand the values you stand for, even in your darkest moments they will still stand behind you. Then it relies on you to modify your plan to better prepare for a similar scenario in the future.

It is my belief that every person’s success is determined by their actions. With that in mind, you must make it your duty to make use of your support and sail forth towards ambiguity and towards your idea of of success. Safe sailing my friends.