optimization – Are lessons on tail recursion transferable to languages that don’t optimize for it?

I’m currently reading through Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP). During the course of that book, the lesson of “you can optimize recursive procedures by writing them as tail recursive” is drilled in to the reader again and again. In fact, I’m nearly 100 pages in and have yet to see a single for or while loop – it’s all been recursion. This is starting to worry me. To my knowledge, optimizing tail calls in a way that effectively turns tail recursive procedures in to iterative procedures is not a common feature in modern programming languages. This gives me my question: If I’m using a language that does not optimize for tail recursion, how can I apply these lessons that SICP has been teaching? Is the knowledge at all transferable?