Naomi Simson: Mistakes are OK and quit worrying whether you're liked

I have made a fool of myself many times, but I forgive myself because I accept that I am human. I have said the wrong thing and put my foot in my mouth, but with no intention of being malicious. So I forgive myself and remind myself to learn from it. I have arrived late to things, been at the wrong place at the wrong time, dropped my son off at school on three separate occasions on ‘pupil free days’. He forgave me – and I forgave myself. Stuff happens in busy lives.

I am who I am. It took nearly five decades for me to stop worrying whether I was likeable, to stop worrying over putting my foot in my mouth and making a massive gaffe – or just an epic stuff-up. Every time I have tried to modify my behaviour to try and fit in – or avoid making mistakes – it only left me more frustrated and challenged.

Now I say what needs to be said: ‘Do what needs to be done and be who I am – and some people will not like that.’ I am quite happy not to try and please everyone all the time. I’m not that broken, so stop trying to fix me – I am forever the way I am. I know I laugh too loud (I found that out by being on national television) but we are all different. My mistakes will continue, though not intentionally, of course.

Life is not perfect so why would the life of a founder be? No one has the intention of making mistakes – by their very nature they are accidental. It is our ability to learn from them that makes the difference, but that shouldn’t be news to anyone.

It is okay to feel the loss, the pain, or the upset – but you simply cannot dwell on the mistakes you have made. You must move on. As a leader it is your job to lead, therefore the only thing to do is to pick yourself up and refocus on the vision. And take another step.

My personal motto is: ‘If it is meant to be, then it’s up to me’. What this means is that if mistakes happen, I take responsibility for my mishaps, misadventures and misunderstandings – I do not blame others. I have made business mistakes, which have cost me dearly – but the business continues to thrive. I have said the wrong thing in public and while it was deeply embarrassing, I acknowledge I am but a human. Life goes on.

I choose not to lament the mistakes I make. As a positive person I have well and truly put them all behind me, and consider them part of what makes up my rich and interesting life.

Perhaps my next big disaster of a mistake will be tomorrow, but rest assured by the day after it will be relegated to my history.

Naomi Simson is the founding director of Australian online tech success story RedBalloon and Redii. She has written more than 950 blog posts at, is a professional speaker and is one of five “Sharks” on TEN’s business reality show Shark Tank to return in 2016. 

This is an excerpt from her latest book, Ready to Soar. It was first published at SmartCompany

Naomi Simson

Considered one of Australia’s tech success stories Naomi Simson founded RedBalloon in 2001. From just an idea and persistence has now served more than 2.5 million customers.

She has many labels: entrepreneur, speaker, director, mother, author, blogger, innovator and a passionate individual to name a few And now TV personality on Network TEN's Shark Tank – to return for a second season in 2016. She is committed to making the world a happier place, and does so via her blogging, having written more than 900 posts at since 2006 (which attracts 100,000 visits a year). Naomi is a LinkedIn Influencer with over 1 million followers, and a much sought after speaker. Her most recent book “Live what you Love” is a best seller.

Naomi is a Director of SaaS, a business she is incredibly passionate about that is doing great things for the future of workplaces in Australia and globally.

Twitter: @NaomiSimson

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