When I was in sixth grade, my elementary school presented the Norma Gold Human Relations Award to three students from our class of about 100. To my shock my name was called, and to this day it’s one of my proudest achievements — mostly because I had absolutely no idea the award existed or that I had done anything special that warranted attention. I was just very involved and gave my all to whatever I did; at that young age I unconsciously expressed the best version of who I was and got recognized for it.

I am not a competitive person and although athletic, I never wanted to play school sports for that very reason. But sometimes we need to have that extra bit of eyes-on-the-prize attitude to take us to the next level. In the movie Remember the Titans, a racially integrated football team came together to be undefeated champ of its division, a victory that was symbolic of so much more in a newly desegregated South. Prior to the final game, Denzel Washington, playing Coach Boone, declared, “I’m a winner. I’m going to win.”

Every field has its pinnacle of achievement and earned recognition, so why not set your sights on one? In the midst of this season with the Grammys and Academy Awards on their way, it’s a good time to consider: What is the equivalent of a Superbowl, World Cup, Olympic medal, Emmy or Tony in your life? What’s your version of the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize? What would your criteria be and what would you call it?

Define in every area of life what your standard of excellence is that makes you a champion. Set that goal for yourself this year or for your bucket list — even if you never attain it, raising the bar for yourself can only make you better in every way.

The next step is to believe that you are worthy of the accomplishment. When Tango Diva held a contest for their 2007 Diva Visionary Award, at the last minute I decided to nominate myself. I then found out after the fact that -gulp – I would have to ask people to vote for me in addition to being judged. The whole process made me incredibly uncomfortable, but I realized at some point I had to decide that I wanted to win — and that decision took but a minute. I figured I deserved it as much as anyone else and had to just go for it. And lo and behold, I WON!

Sometimes you have to seek the recognition (remember producers run Oscar campaigns), make the commitment to it and push until you win, and sometimes it’s a surprise that just falls in your lap. Regardless of how the victory comes, it won’t occur without the intention of doing and being your best. And as you prove yourself and are honored along the way, remember that once you win it, you must own it.

Don’t think you have any horn to toot or mirror ball trophy to win? Everyone excels in some area, so give me a buzz and I’ll help promote your hidden superstar and find an arena for your unique MVP to shine!

(Today’s PGG was originally posted on February 8, 2011)

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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)” In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

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Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | A Decade of Doing What I Do | Express Yourself

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