If your white balance is wrong (your picture looks blue or orange) then it is very distracting. Make a curves adjustment (if you’ve never used curves, it’s ok, we’ll make it easy). Under the channels option in the curves dialog, change it from RGB to one of the colors (red, green, blue). Click a point in the middle of the box and if your picture needs more of that color, slowly drag your mouse up. If your picture needs less of that color, slowly drag your mouse down. (In this picture, you can drag the red down, or the blue up.)
Next thing to focus on is getting rid of distracting elements. Often times, some examples are telephone poles for landscapes, acne for portraits, or perhaps that shoe you left in the middle of your floor that you didn’t see when you took the picture. Editing these things out isn’t “cheating”. The purpose of editing is to make the picture look like what you saw, and often time you never see these distracting elements until you see it on your computer, because now you have time to study all the defects, and in person you were just there experiencing whatever it was you were taking a picture of.
Look at the edges
Being a photographer, you are responsible for making every part of your image look good. If there’s something weird or distracting in the corner, or along the edge, you need to see it.