Tim Keller, who recently passed, wrote an entire book on Self-Forgetfulness–The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.It’s a great read.

Real joy and true fruitfulness as a leader is all about focusing on others, not yourself. Leadership is not primarily about the leader, but about the Lord and the people He has privileged you to lead. A Leader wrapped up in himself/herself makes a very small package.

Dan Rockwell shares some helpful ideas on finding the freedom of self-forgetfulness.

Guest Post by Dan Rockwell

I screwed up my face Sunday morning. While trimming my beard, I took off the spacer to clean it and forgot to put it back. The bathroom mirror revealed irreparable damage. So, I trimmed the whole thing down to the skin.


When my wife saw it, she said, “What happened?” Her tone discomforted me. I’ve had a beard since my 20’s. One day long ago, I shaved it off. My wife’s first words back then, “Grow it back.” I like a woman who knows what she likes. And she likes my beard. So, I like my beard.

I forgot about my deformed visage after a few hours.

Self-forgetfulness is freedom.

Damage of self-consciousness:

Self-consciousness is slavery to anxiety. Your inner critic takes the tone of imagined criticisms from others. “They’re staring at you. They think you’re ugly.”

Imagined criticism from others transforms into damaging self-criticism. You imagine others think you’re ugly. So, you tell yourself, “I’m ugly.”

Self-consciousness is the end of authenticity. You’re not yourself when fear amplifies the imagined voice of others.

How to find the freedom of self-forgetfulness:

#1. Develop yourself.

There are four stages of competence.

  1. Unconscious incompetence.
  2. Conscious incompetence.
  3. Conscious competence.
  4. Unconscious competence.

Incompetence forces you to focus on yourself. When you learned to drive a car, you went through all four stages. Now you don’t even think about yourself while you drive.

#2. Limit yourself.

People pleasers never develop self-forgetfulness. Don’t assume a power you don’t possess.

You do a few things well and many poorly. Focus on what you do well and let everything else go.

#3. Turn outward.

You forget yourself when you get lost in something outside yourself. Sometimes it’s healthy. Other times it’s destructive. Workaholics forget themselves, for example.

Bring advantage to others.

Turn toward something bigger than yourself. If it’s bigger than yourself, it requires self-forgetfulness.

How does self-consciousness hold people back?

How have you developed self-forgetfulness?