Cathy Freeman’s ‘do what I know’ mantra and why it matters

It was interesting watching a clip of Cathy Freeman yesterday reflecting on her gold medal success at the Sydney Olympics, in front of 112,000 people, carrying the hopes of a nation and performing under a huge weight of expectation.

In the midst of all of that hype, excitement, pressure, hope and expectation, as she warmed up, Cathy Freeman simply kept repeating to herself, “Do what I know, Do what I know”. Nothing more complicated than that. Some incredibly powerful, simple, self-instruction. Under all that scrutiny, what did she know she could do? She knew she could do what she knew she could. She knew her abilities in detail and simply had to trust that they would be there when she needed them most (no reason to believe they’d suddenly disappear!). No self-instruction like “win gold” or “don’t screw up” – simply, “do what I know”, which is all about the process. Get the process right and you maximise the chances of getting the outcome you know you’re capable of.

So, do you know yourself well enough to trust what you’d get when you do what you know? Have you spent enough time thinking about your process, so that you can trust it under the most intense pressure (as well as when you’re having an easier time)?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, so someone once said, but to be as simple as that, you have to have studied yourself and accepted your abilities in some detail. Go on, be in a position where you can do what you know, and enjoy doing it.