Are you a “Fred”?

Please note – copyright disclaimer: I am writing a post from my personal reading experience and journey from Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor which has influenced and changed the way I view the world around me.  I am not claiming authorship or inventorship for the concept of “Fred” nor am I writing this for profit or any incentive.  I am writing to share with you what a life-changing book this truly is, authored by Mr. Sanborn who resides right here in my wonderful state of Colorado.

Copyright Sanborn
Copyright Sanborn

I recently read the book, The Fred Factor recommended by my former boss, and it has really impacted me in a positive way.  He recommended the book to me along with another Sanborn book, “You don’t need a title to be a Leader.”  For some reason this one impacted me more because the concept is so simple:  A guy named Fred, who was Mr. Sanborn’s postal carrier in his Wash Park subdivision, really went above and beyond in his job, and made an impression on the author.  The question is, are you doing everything you can in an extraordinary manner or are you failing and unhappy in your work and life?  It was eye-opening because I could not have read this book at a better time in my career.  Personally, I felt like a failure as a mother because I had taken on new responsibilities at work and sadly, people issues dominate work more often than they should.  Although I have to say I am lucky that in my industry, the people are generally all professional, very intelligent, and honestly want to be there and do good things.  However, as a supervisor sometimes it can be tough to sort out those issues that vex the soul whilst still maintaining a normal work load and balancing family and life.

I read this book when I was traveling to and from my second job in California and I have to say it really made me look all around me.  My “fred radar” was on the entire time.  It was heightened in fact.  All around me, there were freds doing fred-like things and I was actually able to notice and appreciate it.  But, I was able to make a list of the fred-actions in me too.  From helping an elderly man with his bags to just saying something kind to an employee who showed kindness to others, all of these actions make a seemingly uneventful trip quite extraordinary.  The same principles can be applied at work and at home and throughout your life.  Being positive is at the heart of being a “Fred” and wanting to do the best job possible- trying your hardest.  Being a “Fred” is the concept of practicing daily to be extraordinary, from simple acts to bigger acts.  And, as Mr. Sanborn stated in his book, it is even more challenging to do these things to those who have been unkind and unpleasant to us.  Those who are the biggest challenges in our lives offer us the greatest opportunity to be excellent because it is tough to be good to those who are back biting or are unhappy to the core.  But, in the end, the reward is to feel positive in all you do which can’t be bad at all.  The same goes for home- being kind and doing acts of service even amidst tough times and above all, being positive.

The key concepts of this book are listed here and basically are: “(1) Everyone makes a difference- the question you want a positive answer to at the end of each day is what kind of difference did you make; (2) Everything is built on relationships and building them can either bring small rewards or huge ones especially in business- the examples he uses really are enlightening; (3) You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny- this is broken down further into four parts for how to create value for others without spending a lot or any money; and (4) You can reinvent yourself regularly.” [Sanborn, copyright]

The last one struck a cord for me too.  It is recognizing that you are human, and improving yourself and trying to learn from others around you that is so important.  There are those who never see their faults, never admit they are wrong, and continually blame everything and everyone around them.  The true problem is not all the external factors or others but the problem is the person.  So, the person who can ask “how could I have handled this situation differently” will be on better track for success than the person who refuses to reinvent and change but blames others and the environment.

All of this was very eye-opening to read and I am actually excited about the possibility of attending a Sanborn workshop to learn even more.  I think everyone can grow and learn something new- whether that be coping skills, or how to look within to make change.  Being a “Fred’ is more than following a checklist or spending money to make people feel valued but rather, seems to be a way of life- the practice in becoming a good, decent person.  And to be a “Fred’ you have to value yourself first.  You can’t really see value in others until you perfect the art in seeing it in yourself.  I also learned that being a “Fred” means that you cannot be hard on yourself.  We are not perfect – no one is (although some in their minds may think they are).  The point is to see that and to learn from our mistakes and move on.

This book was a good read, and for me, career and life-changing.  I highly recommend it.

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