Surely you know that you’re good at something—whether your talent runs to cooking, crocheting, leading a corporation or counseling confused loved ones. But maybe you dream of being really good…even great.

You can be! And there are plenty of avenues for acquiring the practical skills that will allow you to excel at your chosen endeavor, whatever that may be.

But what truly separates the winners from the also-rans is their standout mind-set. That fact was evident at a recent awards ceremony for the “Giants of Broadcasting,” an elite group of women and men honored for making their mark in radio and TV. This annual event is sponsored by the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation.

Judy Kuriansky, PhD, a member of the foundation’s board of directors, is a radio and TV commentator and a well-known clinical psychologist. Here, she shares her insights on how to develop the attitudes that can help you be a standout, too. To become a giant…

Cultivate a firm belief in yourself—while learning from your mistakes. Traveling the path toward exceptional achievement requires the courage to step off a cliff into the unknown. You have to dare to look silly and dismiss naysayers as you find your way, without losing heart when things go wrong or people criticize.

Katie Couric, a Giants of Broadcasting awardee in 2009, recounted how she learned this lesson early on. Early in her career as an aspiring TV reporter, she was told that she would never make it in her chosen field. But she stuck with it and worked on her skills, and look where she ended up—as a popular Today show host for many years, then the first female sole anchor of a network TV evening news program and now host of her own daily talk show.

Lacking confidence? Gaze into the mirror each morning and declare (with conviction), “I can be great!” or “If I can dream it, I can be it.” The more you repeat this mantra, the more you’ll start to believe it and live it. In the meantime, dare to experiment. In the kitchen, for instance, your “crazy” combinations of ingredients could lead to the recipes for a future best-selling cookbook.

March to your own drumbeat. Adolescents typically yearn to be one of the crowd—but becoming a standout adult means finding your own unique direction. Epitomizing that are several of the 2012 Giants of Broadcasting, including Ted Turner, whose CNN was the first 24-hour news channel in the world…and the popular news team of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, who deliberately established a relaxed reporting style, in contrast to their colleagues’ intense, fast-paced presentations.

Feel the fun. You’ve probably heard many times that excellence is fueled by passion as well as perseverance. Barbara Walters, a 2006 Giants of Broadcasting awardee, had to work very hard to succeed in an era when women were rare in the broadcasting business. But when you watch her interviews, it’s evident how much she enjoys connecting with people and finding out about their lives.

So even as you’re struggling toward your goal, remind yourself, “This is challenging but I love it.” The thought will give you a motivating inner glow…and an outward million-dollar smile that will make others sit up and take notice.

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