We’ve Seen Self-Centered Beasts – How Leaders Become Human

Self-centered leaders are beasts. Self-forgetful leaders become human.

Victor Frankl wrote, “The more one forgets himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love–the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. … In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.” (Man’s Search for Meaning)


Forgetting is a virtue when you forget yourself.

5 ways to move from beast to human:

#1. Express gratitude.

You remember yourself and eventually forget yourself while expressing gratitude.

Gratitude begins with you, but turns to others. Gratitude moves from personal enjoyment, advantage, and benefit to recognizing another’s contribution.

Who might you acknowledge in the next 30 minutes?

#2. Practice self-care with a purpose.

Self-care is a means to effective service, not an end in itself.

The purpose of leadership is service.

Rest to energize and sustain service.

#3. Notice others with appreciation.

The purpose of noticing is understanding, not judging.

Noticing accelerates everything you hope to achieve. Effective coaching, kind correcting, compassionate challenging, and remarkable results begin with appreciative noticing.

  1. How does this challenge or opportunity impact others?
  2. How might you welcome the perspective of others today?

#4. Watch yourself as an outside observer.

The cure to getting lost in the weeds is stepping outside your circumstances and observing as an outsider.

Watch yourself as an outsider during one-on-ones, leading meetings, or daily interactions. What’s it like to sit across the table from you?

Remember yourself to forget yourself.

#5. Remember your first love.

Get out of your own way – remember you are a small part of a greater whole.

The first love of leaders is serving something bigger than themselves.

How might you knowingly express mission in the next 30 minutes?

Roadblocks to self-forgetfulness:

  1. Needing appreciation.
  2. Seeking approval.
  3. Focusing exclusively on results.
  4. Ruminating instead of reflecting.
  5. Giving control of life to others.

Forgetting is a virtue when you forget yourself.

What advantages do you see in self-forgetfulness?

What might practicing self-forgetfulness look like to you?

Bonus material:

Build Resilience By Learning To “Forget Yourself” | Psychology Today