leadership

What inspires me: Please tell me I can’t

Naomi Simson /

Tell me I “cannot” do, be or have something – and that is the surest way to inspire me into action.

What inspires me is simply when the ‘impossible becomes possible’ – to tackle a problem and never give up, no matter how challenging.

The pet name my peers gave me at university was ‘Num’ – because it rhymed with dumb… I had an idea that I was not the smartest academic in class, and that there were definitely cleverer students on campus.

In fact, my own father said to me as I was finishing my degree, “Just in case your university education does not get you a job, let me send you on a touch-typing course, at least you will have that to fall back on.”

At some point I said to myself, “You just wait – I will show you, I will be a ‘success’.”

I have never thought that people took me seriously. It is as if my need to ‘prove’ myself has fuelled my relentless pursuit to create a best workplace, for growth and for being “world-famous” for what we do. To show all those people that said to me “you can’t”, that in fact I can.

After leaving corporate life I became a marketing consultant, and even in doing that, somehow my clients would look at the marketing plans I created and pick and choose which elements they would do – as if it was a shopping list. I thought as an ‘expensive’ consultant surely I would be listened to. Still no.

As a start-up, I put into practice at RedBalloon the things that I had been advising my clients to do. I wondered if I could build a brand based on listening to customers and responding. Somehow I still needed to “show them”, whoever “them” is.

Even now when I hear business leaders say “Oh, it is easy for you, you only have a team of 60”, I want to stamp my feet. “No!” I yell inside. “When will I be taken seriously?” Then I am inspired to do more, work harder – to prove that it is possible.

And I am equally inspired by other people’s stories of creating the possible from the impossible. If I hear a story of someone who has overcome the odds, worked hard, focused, fulfilled on his or her word – and has been relentless in changing the world to make it a better place – I feel unbelievably inspired and uplifted.

My motto is, “If it is meant to be, it is up to me.” But to change the world, first it takes a dream. These words have always inspired me:

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …

This is my quest, to follow that star …
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
To fight for the right, without question or pause …
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

‘The Impossible Dream’, from Man of La Mancha. Lyrics by Joe Darion.

When the impossible becomes possible, the world becomes a better place.

Naomi Simson has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded, RedBalloon.com.au, including the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year – Industry.

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Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson is the founder of RedBalloon, co-founder of the Big Red Group, author of two books and blogger at NaomiSimson.com. She also appears on Channel Ten as one of the investors in Shark Tank Australia.

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