The value of self-love in leadership

13 February 2018

Ashley St George

Ashley is a local Canberra freelance writer, having been published in Her Canberra and Out In Canberra, and is also an accomplished photographer. She will also feature as a Speed Networker at the 2018 She Leads College Conference.

At YWCA Canberra, we value diversity. That is why we launched Write for Us, an opportunity that provides our members and friends with a platform to discuss their experiences. Today on International Self-Love Day, we are sharing an article written by Ashley St George on what self-love is, and why you should practice it.

Self-love is a term that is thrown around a lot these days. But have you actually taken the time to think about how it fits with you?

Self-love is one of the most important lessons you can learn, and yet it doesn’t come under any subject at school. The thing with self-love, is it often takes time. Not a long time to cultivate, but time to sit and think without too many distractions and tasks around you! For me, the weeks (or even months!) following handing in my last university assignment was my ‘time’.

You can also think of that time as ‘space’, where your mind is de-cluttered from tasks to reveal what things in life you really feel passionate about. In this time you get to know yourself just like you would a friend, and its through understanding yourself that you foster the sort of self-compassion that will help you through all areas of life, and become the best leader you can be.

Being a photographer I get to meet a huge range of people because there are photo needs in a wide range of industries. But whichever power female I meet there is always one commonality – self love. They couldn’t have gotten where they were without compassion and belief in themselves.

So what does self-love feel like?

  • confidence in yourself
  • interactions with people where you feel like you’re being authentic
  • like you’re doing something purposeful and meaningful
    like you’re not wasting time
  • unique-ness and less comparison to others
  • acceptance of your abilities – both what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at
  • a feeling of acceptance/love for yourself like you would accept/love a puppy
  • resilience through uncomfortableness
  • … nice!

For me, the most inspiring women I have in my life are ones that emanate self-love – it’s as if they glow and encourage everyone around them to do the same. Its through this encouragement and display of self-pride and individuality that they are leaders.

Here are two examples


Charlotte is a bartender and passionate about women’s equality in hospitality.

She believes so wholeheartedly that women can be so talented in the industry, that she set up a collective of Women in Hospitality called Tusk, and put on a dinner run BY women FOR everyone raising funds and awareness to the cause. The event completely sold out in a couple of days so was a huge success. She didn’t feel limited by what anyone else thought, but treated everything like an opportunity.


Lucy is not afraid to have conversations about her weaknesses because she accepts them and knows they don’t make her any less valuable – they make her unique. I find her Instagram inspiring because she talks about herself in this accepting, reflective and proud way. She recently had a baby and was not afraid to share with others that she felt proud that she was 37 weeks pregnant and was still aiming to swim 1km a day! The gratitude she emanates is contagious.

How to self-love

A large aspect of self-love is reflection, and this is it takes time and space to cultivate. There are different ways to do this so find ways that work for you – meditation, going for a walk, take yourself out for a coffee, have a bath.

These activities give you a break from the busy-ness of everyday life and give pause for reflection. Combine this with some journaling where you might ponder some of these questions – what are you grateful for? What opportunities do I have in front of me at the moment? What qualities do I value in a friend? What am I feeling proud of? What do I want to get out of ‘x’?

You’ll start to realise what motivates you, why you feel passionate about certain things, and come to appreciate qualities in yourself.

To finish off, I’d like to share one of my favourite memes that you should look at every morning!

The Write for Us opportunity is a part of our larger advocacy strategy. Advocacy is at the heart of the work we do at YWCA Canberra, and with the vision of women shaping our communities, we want to amplify the diverse voices of women in the Canberra community. To discover more about YWCA Canberra’s advocacy, subscribe to Y Action today.


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