Over the past 12 days, I’ve watched countless young men and women from around the globe who have achieved their dream to compete in the Olympics. The realization of that dream has allowed them to pursue yet another dream — to stand on a platform, wearing a medal-adorned ribbon around their neck and clutching a bouquet as their nation’s anthem is played. 

The eyes of people from all over the world are on the 3 individuals (or teams) on that platform. Some will continue to be in the limelight when they return home. Most will, no doubt, be interviewed by at least local news media, and some will sign lucrative endorsement deals, appear on national television programs, etc.

But for every athlete standing on the podium, there are many others who have worked equally hard and made equal or greater sacrifice only to fall short of winning a medal. 

In fact, the vast majority of the athletes competing in Tokyo receive little, if any, media attention while at the Games and none upon their return home. There will be no public accolades, no deals, no appearances on shows like Dancing With the Stars. 

As I’ve watched the Olympics, I’ve paid special attention to those athletes who have been to the Games before and not yet won a medal and to the athletes who are considered huge long-shots to step onto the podium and receive a coveted medal.

I’ve watched them, back there behind the favorites, positioned at the edge of the television screen, as they adjust their goggles or stretch their hamstrings or raise up and down on their toes in anticipation. 

They’ve come so far — literally and figuratively — to pursue a dream. They’ve sacrificed and sweat and struggled and worked unbelievably hard, knowing their dream of winning an Olympic medal will almost surely never happen. They’ve done it for a myriad of reasons that we will never know.

They’ve pursued their dream even when the odds were stacked against them and it would have been so much easier to simply give up. To stop dreaming.

And they’ve done it all without fanfare.

How can you or I do any less?

How can we sit on the couch, scrolling through social media posts or watching hours of mindless television when our dreams go unfulfilled?

Nobody is paying any attention to us or knows what our dreams are. Nobody will know if we achieve them or fail to even try.

That’s all the more reason for each one of us to get out there and pursue our dreams.

As John Wooden said,  “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

Get out there. Pursue your dreams.