Jennifer Myster can pinpoint the day she gave up her Superhero quest to please others and started living her own life. While interviewing for her current job as president of Buffalo Hospital, she was asked: “How do you have fun at work?”
Wham! That was the gut punch that changed her life. “I stared blankly at them…it had been a long time since I said ‘fun’ and ‘work’ in the same sentence,” she shared with me. “After they asked that question, I knew I needed that job more than the job needed me.”
From Perfection to Vulnerability
Since that day, Jennifer made huge changes in every aspect of her life. So much so that today, her 20-year old daughter Katey shares freely, “My mom taught me to have fun first.”
“For my whole life, I was trying to be perfect,” Jennifer confessed. “The perfect mom, wife, executive; be perfectly skinny and pretty…I was trying to be the superhero.” But in 2009, when she got the job of president at Buffalo Hospital, she realized she didn’t have to be the Superhero anymore. “I had been trying to please everyone around me, not living my own life. But life is a lot easier when you’re willing to be vulnerable and ask for help.”
A New Decision-Maker
Jennifer spent 12 years at Mayo in Rochester and then seven years at Park Nicollet – but learning the role of President at Buffalo Hospital was a radically new challenge in her evolution as a leader. “Everyone was looking to me to make decisions,” she recalls. “The team was accustomed to a directive leader before me. I’m more introverted, and I like to be a part of a generative process.”
She learned that her relationship skills were a great asset, and she was intent on requiring people speak up. “For us to be our best, we need our staff to have a voice on patient matters, safety concerns and opportunities to be better. It’s exactly opposite of the Superhero.”
What’s special about her work today is being a pioneer in Minnesota Hospitals for The Bounce Back Project – a nationally recognized program focused on personal resiliency. Her message at the Good Leadership Breakfast will be about how the dramatic deaths of two physicians inspired a resilience movement in the Buffalo community.
Investing in “Me”
So, what does she do to invest in herself today? This past year, Jennifer bought a dream home with lake access to Lake Minnetonka to help fuel her passion for water skiing. She laughed, “Yes, it’s true I can do stupid human tricks – I love to barefoot water ski!”
Good leaders eventually resist the temptation to become a Superhero leader, because that lifestyle just doesn’t work. And they accept their life as a journey of vulnerability and passion…not perfection.
Please tell me: what would make you give up your Superhero status?