Too often, we think of good leaders, good community builders, as selfless, always looking out for other people, filling their days with near impossible schedules that leave everybody wondering how, exactly, they get everything done.
We love our hero myths, the stories that show how one person changed the world or saved lives or inspired generations—or all of these at once. But that doesn’t mean good leaders don’t need good self-care.
AMTA 2023 National Convention Keynote speakers Ally Love, CEO/Founder of Love Squad, in-arena host for the Brooklyn Nets, Peloton instructor, model and Adidas global ambassador, and Ben Nemtin, New York Times bestselling author and cofounder of The Buried Life movement, turn these myths on their head, instead highlighting how good leadership requires good self-care, leaning into community and a very healthy dose of vulnerability.
Ally Love Talks the Value of Vulnerability, Self-Care and Why Strong Friendships Matter
How can tapping into our vulnerability help us be stronger leaders?
I think any personal story goes a long way and vulnerability means that you are in a position where you’re willing to share who you are and all the messy parts. That is empowering. Those are the stories that not only stick with people but ultimately change their lives. That’s the stuff folks tend to lean into. Sharing the messiness means the imperfections, the things you got wrong, the things you almost got right, the things you definitely got right, and the areas in which you’ve learned.
I think that it helps us become stronger leaders because leaders don’t lead always from the front, leaders lead from within, within your organization, and within your team. They say the best leaders get to a destination not by wielding or pushing the team to the top but by having conversations and allowing the team to problem-solve the best path to get to the top. That to me takes vulnerability.
Can you talk to us about “the power of the small things” and how this can help people fuel their own success while practicing self‑care?
Take one thing a day in any area of your life and get that done. I think what ends up happening, which we all know, is one thing after one thing after one thing is a lot of small things that equal a big thing so it’s the compound effect. So every day focus on that one thing that you can or will or need to get done. Identify what that is and do it. That in itself creates a structure for your life. It’s consistency within a structure.
It also provides an outcome because you’re getting things done, maybe a little slower than you’d like, maybe a little slower than most people would like, but you are yielding results and, to me, that is powerful. That’s the power of one thing a day. What if I said you can have more time and you can be less stressed if you could just do one thing a day? I can guarantee some days you’re going to get way more done but even if it’s just one, you can feel successful.
For massage therapists looking for a confidence boost, what are some ways you remind yourself that you are enough and that your work is meaningful?
Write it on your mirror! I don’t care where you live, what you have going on, how many folks are in your house or even if you don’t have a mirror to yourself—put it on something that you see every day right away. It could be the medicine cabinet, the inside of the cabinet, your locker at school, behind the door, a notebook that you open up every day. Remind yourself of who you are every day in written form. Those words remind you of who you are every single day, even the days where you’re like “Nope, I remember.”
Another thing is, they say the key to a long, healthy, and happy life is investing in friendships. I would encourage you for the next month to identify who your friends are, who you want to be your friends, and who you can invest in deep long-lasting relationships. Then after you’ve identified those people, speak to them, and send them kind text messages. It doesn’t have to be every day but maybe it’s a cadence of once a week or once every two weeks. Create some consistency around the communication that you have with your friends. Great rich friendships yield longer, happier and healthier lives.
Ben Nemtin Talks Prioritizing Self-Care, Strength Through Struggle and Leading With Authenticity
You talk about prioritizing our own self‑care as necessary not selfish. How does taking care of ourselves, curating good mental health, help us be better members of our communities?
You need to be able to identify the things in your life that build you up and make sure that you protect time for that to be able to share those gifts and create the biggest impact. That looks different for everyone, but it is very important that you identify those things that do recharge you and communicate them with those around you so that other people know these are the things that are important to you in order to recharge. Then carve out time to do those things and don’t let the day-to-day bury those small things that fill you up. They are not trivial, they are very important to let you do your job at the highest level.
Because you can’t take care of other people if you don’t fill up your own cup first. When you do things that you love you inspire others to do things that they love and the idea is that you want to be the best version of yourself to show up at work as a massage therapist, to show up for your family, show up for your friends, and just really show up for yourself.
You are open about your depression and anxiety in college. Can you talk to us a little about how that time shaped the life you’re leading today?
In hindsight, I’m rather thankful that I went through that first initial deep depression because it forced me to surround myself with people that inspired me, which led me to connecting with my three friends and starting this adventure that changed my life forever. And it was definitely the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, but it also taught me how to take care of myself and what I needed to be healthy. It also gave me empathy for other people that might be struggling. It forced me to start to understand who I was.
I am really grateful for it and any type of struggle I go through. I am grateful because I’ve realized those struggles can be my strengths when I embrace them rather than hide them, so I really try to use them as an opportunity for growth and find that there is a lot of life force in the darkness, just as there is life force in the light and the great times. And to embrace that full spectrum of life and understand that those moments of pain and struggle are there for a reason, to show you who you really are.
Vulnerability, connection, community, inspiration, giving back. These are important ideas you address. How do these qualities help people live better, more authentic lives? How do these qualities help people be more effective leaders?
I think that to be an effective leader you have to lead with authenticity. When I think about my own experience, anyone that I respect, even if I don’t agree with them, I respect them if they are being truly who they are. What that means is they are leading from a place of truth, which enables their team to also be who they truly are and therefore unlock their full potential.
I think that as leaders if you are able to communicate with your teams that it’s OK to be struggling, that this is the human experience and we all have ups and downs, and be open and vulnerable with your story and any human experience you’ve had with struggle. Ultimately, I think we think if we share these things we will look weak, but really it is the opposite. Anytime I see someone share something and be vulnerable, I really, really respect them.