If you value the differences in people, the differences will create value.
For much of my tenure at Fidelity Bank, the sentiment above has been a core principle that has informed our bank’s culture. In fact, it is currently displayed prominently on the wall of our boardroom. The concept was first introduced to me years ago by longtime board member Ron Marchetti, whom I am privileged to consider a mentor, and I distilled it into this simple but powerful quote:
“If you value the differences in people, the differences will create value.”
This strikes me as a worthy sentiment to share with others, especially now, as we move forward from a contentious election and look forward to 2017 – a new year and a new chance to be a bit better, as a bank, as individuals and as a community.
One of the hallmarks of a gracious life is understanding that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. We as individuals have an opportunity, time and time again, to come together through our differences to create something totally unique and wonderful, whether it is in the workplace, home, political arena or community. After all, wouldn’t life be boring if all of us looked the same, talked the same and thought the same?
Valuing our differences creates value. It opens us up to new insights and spurs creative thinking and problem solving by tapping into multiple perspectives. And, perhaps more importantly, valuing the differences between us leads to healthy discourse, peace, harmony and acceptance, all of which are essential to living high-quality, productive lives.
What’s the first step toward valuing differences? It helps me to remember that these differences are the product of experiences. Why does a neighbor, client or coworker have a different viewpoint from me? Consider: Given the same life experiences, I would likely share a similar viewpoint.
“Wouldn’t you like to have a magic phrase that would stop argument, eliminate ill feeling and create goodwill?” asks Dale Carnegie, that timeless master of human relations. Here it is: “If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” Well, of course I would. How could I feel otherwise?
This notion of valuing differences was extremely important to the successful merger of Barre Savings Bank with Fidelity Bank in 2016. Certainly, the merger made sense because our cultures and values were so well aligned. However, it has been gratifying to see how the merger leveraged differing perspectives in a way that has unquestionably made us better together.
So my New Year’s wish for all is that instead of allowing our differences to keep us apart, we learn to value them, and each other. You will be surprised at how much you get in return.
I extend heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy, prosperous new year.
Ed Manzi Jr. is chairman and CEO of Fidelity Bank.