It’s not about the competition; it’s about the contribution

I’m sometimes accused of repeating myself. “I heard that story 10 times,” or, “You already said that,” others will say to me. My children will tell you I have a habit of reviewing the same situation and dissecting its details. I may share different experiences, yet repeat the same takeaway. 

There’s a common theme to my lessons — a thread that ties together the experiences I have had in business, investing, politics and life in general. That thread is people and relationships. It’s all about the who. My core values never waver, whether we’re talking about the stock market, a business transaction, a conversation with a friend or confession with a priest. What I believe and hold near to my heart never changes. 

I try to follow the Jesuit motto of “men and women for others.” The Fedeli Group’s values are faith, relationships, reciprocity, philanthropy and consistency of character. I am often opinionated, sometimes taking risks, yet I’m calculated, and there are no surprises with my decisions. 

I tend to be a consistent man. If you are consistent in who you are as an employer, a parent, a sibling, an investor, a manager, a community member, a neighbor or a friend, you never have to act. You’ll never find yourself in a role where you are set up to fail. Being consistent means there’s no acting, and that’s a good thing for me because I’m just not good at faking it. I am who I am. 

Being consistent sometimes translates to being repetitive. I don’t believe this is a negative thing. Think about it — don’t you have to hear the same message many times before you absorb it? Or hear/see/experience it in different formats (experience, reading, watching, listening) before you truly understand it? I share different stories with the same lesson. I repeat the same favorite phrases that remind me of what matters most in life. 

The following are some consistent messages, and together they tell the story of my values. 

  •   It’s not about the competition; it’s about the contribution. 
  •   There are no shortcuts in life. 
  •   It’s all about the who: Who you marry, who you hire, who you invest in and who you hang with. When the who isn’t right, the what doesn’t matter. 
  •   To have a friend, you have to be a friend. 
  •   Eighty percent of success is choosing the right people. 
  •   There is nothing more important in life than relationships. 
  •   It’s always important to add value. Ask yourself, “Am I making a difference?” 
  •  People determine their problems.
  •   We are not all called to do extraordinary things, but everyone can do ordinary things extraordinarily. 
  •  Underpromise and overdeliver.
  •  To peak perform, you must find balance in family, personal, health, financial, career, spiritual and happy/fun (from Dr. Gerald D. Bell).
  •  If you don’t know where you’re doing or what you’re doing, who is going to follow you?
  •  Learning is a lifelong experience.
  •   If you listen to your associates and customers, you’ll get 90 percent of the answers you’ll need. 
  •  Play to your strengths
  •   A small percentage of things really makes the difference (Pareto principle), so focus on those things that will really move the needle. 
  •   In the end, have you gone from success to significance? Have you made a difference? 

TAKEAWAY: If you are consistent in all aspects of life, you won’t need a script. Just be you.

Umberto P. Fedeli is president and CEO at The Fedeli Group