The holidays are here again, and for many that means elaborate home decorations, fancy dinners for friends and family members and expensive gift exchanges. During my weekly grocery shopping trip, I see shoppers frantically filling their carts trying to get it all done in time for whatever event or get together they have on their agenda. Anxiety is high and you can almost see the burnout happening in real time. 

This type of holiday stress has always intrigued me and I can't help but think that the desire to "keep up appearances" during the holiday season is doing us more harm than good. 

As a business coach for the last 25 years, I have seen many business owners struggle with the idea of "keeping up appearances." They feel like they have to have the nicest car, the biggest house and send their kids to the best schools in order to prove to others that their business is doing well, even if their revenue numbers might not support such an extravagant lifestyle. They must always appear calm, collected and in charge no matter what struggles and challenges they may be facing in their leadership journey. They may be hesitant to join a mastermind group or business coaching program, because they fear what others will say when they let their guard down and ask for advice or guidance. They must appear to know it all, despite the fact that most if not all business owners can benefit from seeking outside counsel. 

So today, I want to share with you some tips on how to let go of the idea of "Keeping Up Appearances" thus allowing yourself to really reach your full potential as a business owner. 

Let Go Of The Idea of Perfection

There is no such thing as a perfect leader. We are all human, and as such we are bound to make mistakes along the way. As a leader, when you make a mistake, own it. Don't be afraid to let your team members know that you had a misstep or misjudged the situation and then model good behavior on how you learned from or grew from that mistake. In the long run, your team members will respect you more for being honest with them.

Practice Gratitude

Another way to prevent yourself from feeling like you have to "keep up appearances" is to practice gratitude in everything that you do. Every small business has to start somewhere. At one point you were excited about every single sale that came across your desk. You were grateful to be able to pay your lease on your office or pay your vendors on time. Every one of those milestones meant something to you as a business owner. Now, several years later, many of those early milestones may be taken for granted. But if you find yourself getting caught up in appearances, stop and reflect on how far you have come and how far you can go if you keep your eye on the prize and focus on growth and scaling your business. 

Be Humble

My final tip for escaping the "appearances" trap has to do with being humble. As a business owner, you have an entire community to rally around you and offer you support and guidance, but you have to be humble enough to accept that knowledge from others in the industry and admit that you don't know it all. I myself have a mastermind group that I consult with regularly and I value the input and outside perspective that the group gives me in my own business journey. 

So if you find yourself worried about what other people think of you and your business. Stop. Take a deep breath and let go of the idea of perfection, practice gratitude and be humble. The result will be worth it

Published on: Dec 3, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.