I was struck during the Olympics as to how drive, determination, and positive self-talk leads to success.

In gymnastics I found myself cheering for Jordyn Wieber to make it to the all-around competition, though I understood the joy of Aly Raisman in her quest to win an all-around medal in the same way as Gabby Douglas. My heart, of course, belonged to Gabby, but I felt moved by the tears and sadness of Jordyn, partly because she was expected to medal and represent the United States as the brightest, most talented gymnast around. The public and commentators had dubbed her the best of the best. It goes to show that what is expected is not always the way things turn out. To me, it’s the difference between trying to win versus trying not to lose. Fear factored into the results, and truly, the gymnasts needed to approach the competition with all attack and no fear. If athletes are able to contain their fears on one of the largest public competitions around, they can maximize their performance.

On a much smaller level, I recently joined a suburban tennis league, and played my first match. I won the first two games, but lost the match 6-3, 6-0 to someone I was nearly certain I should beat. Again, fear factored into my mental attitude, and I was trying not to lose, full of fear, instead of trying to win.

Just having people watching you, rooting for you, can motivate and lead to success. Britain, during the 2012 summer Olympics won sixty-five medals, twenty-nine gold, whereas during the Beijing Olympics they won a total of forty-seven medals. No wonder commentators talk about home court advantage.

Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee from South Africa, competed against able-bodied athletes and made it to the semi-finals in the track and field competition, spurred on by the crowd’s overwhelming adoration of his accomplishments. We talk about dreams a lot, but let us not forget that mental focus all by itself can add up to enhanced success.

I hope we can all find a way to cheer on our own successes, be they big or small.