In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 13, 2022

In a Word: Eman Darby on focusing on personal strengths to build stronger teams, leading with empathy, affinity for ‘Mayo blue’ more

By In the Loop
Eman Darby

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.


You see them at bedsides. Behind desks. You see them talking quietly with a patient or sitting down with you at a meeting. They may be friends, teammates or someone you know only by sight. But you're glad they're here. And it's reassuring to know that the health of our patients, our colleagues and the institution itself rests in their capable, friendly, earnest, caring and compassionate hands.


Eman Darby says it doesn't seem so long ago that she received her five-year pin and plaque commemorating her years of service at Mayo Clinic. Now, she's celebrating 12 years and is excited for what the future holds.

Darby, a senior business analyst in the Enterprise Office of Access Management, is passionate about working in health care. She was born to Palestinian refugees who had emigrated to Jordan. Both her parents had multiple health issues that resulted in frequent hospital stays.

"Hospitals were a scary place for me, not knowing if they would make it out of there," Darby says.

But it was ultimately her experiences with her parents' health struggles that led Darby to a career in health care.

"There were times I thought I had wanted to become a doctor," she says. "I didn't feel the emotional strength to pursue that line of work. Instead, I started thinking about improving the health care experience and increasing the quality of care for patients in other ways."

Being tech-savvy, Darby pursued a career in information systems and international business to serve patients as a business and technical liaison.

"I get the opportunity to work at one of the very best health care organizations in the world and learn from the top-of-the-line employees who inspire me to continue to do better for our patients," she says. "Walking through the hallways, you can't help but feel the hope our patients feel."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: Other than our Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Healing, Teamwork, Innovation, Excellence, Stewardship, or RICH TIES, values and our staff, I would have to say the artwork and color schemes that generate calmness and peace. The moment I see someone wear the "Mayo blue" color, I can't help but smile. Most times, I comment on how much I enjoy their choice of attire.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Inspire and share compassion with my colleagues. The more I can lift others up everyone around me, the better we can serve our patients together.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): Two books: "Strengths Finder 2.0" and "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living," by Amit Sood, M.D. Having taken the assessment as part of the Strengths Finder 2.0, I use my top five strengths frequently to remind myself what makes me who I am.

Life isn't about focusing on our weaknesses, but rather our strengths. We can bring out the best in each other if we focus on our individual strengths to complement each other as part of a team. You're never alone. We are a true team — a testament to our Mayo Clinic Model of Care. We're more effective when we partner together and home in on our individual strengths rather than dwell on our weaknesses.

Find the work that aligns with your individual strengths and collaborate with others to bring out the best in each other. I was fortunate as a Mayo Clinic Well-Being Champion to participate in Dr. Sood's workshop based on "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living." I highly recommend this book to everyone to learn how to get the most out of life, improve your productivity by improving your ability to focus, and improve your overall well-being. This book also helped me prioritize regular meditation to reduce my daily stress and my team's stress as best as I can.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: To lead by example. You don't have to have leadership in your job title to be a leader. I'm fortunate to help lead our Rochester eMERGing Leaders team. Our mission is to help new and aspiring leaders develop leadership and technical skills to meet Mayo Clinic's current and future needs for talent and personal goals. I have learned that servant leadership is the key to compassion and try to model my leadership style accordingly. Not only is it important to lead by example, but it's also important to lead with empathy to foster a culture of safety and growth. 

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: Sometimes we choose to or have to wear multiple hats. At any given time, we can rarely be our best with every hat we're wearing. Our best differs day to day, and that's to be expected. 

Most memorable Mayo moment: I have too many to count. Not being in direct patient care, I have loved any opportunity to help lost patients find their way as I walked from building to building to attend meetings. One of my favorite moments was helping a man who was lost and blind, and I held his hand on my arm as I walked him to the lower level of the Kahler. That to me is Mayo Clinic: never being too busy to help and lend a hand.

Another favorite moment I'd like to share happened eight years ago with an internal customer. She was understandably getting frustrated having to wait for a data request to be completed, feeling as if it could take years before she could gain insights to make a real impact for her department and our patients. At that moment, I created a lifelong mantra that I have lived by very closely: the three Ps, which are patience, positivity and persistence. We must remain patient while we continue to be positive and persist to make waves and see our efforts truly pay off.

This year, as we are emerging from the pandemic, I have added a fourth P. It's based on what Dr. Jeffrey Staab eloquently shared at the Practice Leadership Forum. And, no, it is not "pivot," as my team had frequently enjoyed saying the last couple of years. It's "present." The best joy in life is learning to live in the present. Once we learn how to enjoy the moment during the moment, we can feel joy.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: Spa music, as my 4-year-old daughter would say. Whatever we can do to help bring moments of much-needed peace for our patients.

Favorite space on campus this month: Unfortunately, I haven't been on campus as much being a full-time remote worker since the beginning of the pandemic. Most of my visits have been to the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program in the Hilton Building to donate platelets for patients in need. If I'm lucky, I'll have time to swing by Gonda to see the Chihuly artwork.

People who inspire me: My husband, Dr. Amit Sood, our well-being specialists, our Healthy Living Program staff, my fellow eMERGing Leaders, my customers, my current division, and my former, oh-so-missed colleagues.

I learned so much from taking a prenatal education program five years ago offered at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. The inspiration, positivity and encouragement bleeds from the walls.

For the last 14 years, I have lived by my favorite quote, by Ken Blanchard: "There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

It's perfectly OK to be interested in something and not commit to it at the time. Schedule a reminder in the future when you'd like to revisit your level of commitment, and ask yourself, "Are you committed or simply interested?" 

The most fun I've had at work this year: My most fun moments are the ones where I see my colleagues smile, laugh and feel at ease. It's the icing on top if I can see them laugh so hard they cry. The more humor and compassion we can bring into our daily work, the more fun we can have together.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.? William Worrall Mayo, M.D., said, "Each member of the staff should remember that their future is tied up with that of every other individual member, that it is only as a collective community that the clinic will be able to maintain its high place in the eyes of the people and of the medical profession."

Dr. Laura Breeher shared earlier this year that she had this quote on a Post-it note on her desk as a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves to ensure our colleagues can do the same.

We have to first put on our own oxygen masks before we can put oxygen masks on each other and our patients. As a Well-Being Champion, I continue to remind myself and others that it's OK to be vulnerable, and we should be vulnerable. We are humans — not machines. Our best varies each day, and ultimately it's progress — not perfection — that leads us into the future. 

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: Hope, healing and the compassion they can feel from our staff and within the walls at Mayo Clinic.


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Tags: Dr. Amit Sood, Dr. Jeffrey Staab, Dr. Laura Breeher, Eman Darby, Employee Stories, In a Word

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