When we confront challenges in life and do not succeed in overcoming them, what must we accredit this failure to? While some might chalk it up to a lack of innate ability or an inherent injustice in the system, others would accept personal responsibility for their actions and continue to persevere.

But if we could devise a formula for success, what might we say that it is? Former Washington Redskins coach George Allen famously said, "Winning is the science of being totally prepared." This sentiment, while seemingly obvious, is the foundation for all successful endeavors that have shaped our modern world.

Each and every successful professional arrived at his or her current position through years of preparation. In concrete terms, preparation might encompass anything from rehearsing a presentation for days before presenting it to the boss or preparing for undergraduate and graduate school. This universal concept is the basis for athletes, singers, actors, teachers and essentially anyone who wishes to accomplish something worthwhile.

For example, when we watch Tyrod Taylor maneuver so effortlessly through the defense of the opposing team, we see his athleticism and the fruits of his training and preparation. What we fail to see are the hours of running, weightlifting, plyometric training and any number of exercises he repeatedly did in order to perform a 10 second play at such a high skill level. This holds true for any endeavor. Hours and hours of preparation may be required for simply the chance to display one's ability. I would argue that preparation, not natural talent alone, separates the extraordinary from the everyday.

It becomes increasingly convenient to judge the valedictorian and envy his achievement because it is easier to believe he was just given an abundance of intelligence greater than what you received. But when we examine the nature of his accomplishment, how can we reason to believe that intelligence alone can get you to the top? When you are at the football game, fraternity social or some other event, he is at the Math Emporium studying and investing time in his future.

For some people, the sacrifice is not worth the reward. Yet for others who see through the tunnel to the other side, they choose the path less traveled and therefore receive the accolades accrued to the exceptional. The difference between success and failure is a simple one: Those who are successful make the decision to seek a goal without considering the possibility of failure, and prepare to be successful, whatever it takes.

If you asked to see a winner, I would reply, "Show me a loser who has not stopped trying." The secret to life and prosperity is not greed or vast intelligence or, for the most part, even knowing the right people. The secret lies in an unwavering dedication to remain intolerant of mediocrity, strive for perfection, and settle for excellence.

We at Virginia Tech have fortunately been endowed with all of the tools necessary to achieving greatness in any number of endeavors. Our professors, advisers and administration are often untapped resources, yet always present nonetheless, to help us in our path to whatever goal we choose to pursue. The opportunity exists for each and every one of us. Carpe diem. Seize the moment, the day, the lifetime, of happiness, fulfillment and prosperity that awaits those who choose to sacrifice the immediate in exchange for the infinite.

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