Lessons ezine by Mark Sanborn
April 1, 2006
What is the opposite of a “Fred”?
I found out recently when I was visiting Berean Christian Bookstore in Canton, Ohio. That particular store is an extraordinary example of excellence in book retailing: beautiful facility, innovate merchandising concepts and nice, helpful employees who are committed to the principles of The Fred Factor.
|Many of you have wondered if Fred the Postman really exists (yes, Virginia, there is a Fred) and what he looks like. Well now you know … he’s the better looking one standing in the front of the picture. You know how it goes, “Behind every great mailman there’s a…”|
One of the employees, Maria, asked me, “Do you know what the opposite of a Fred is?” While I know what the opposite of Fred-like behavior looks like, I’d never put a name to the kind of person who might act that way.
“The opposite of a Fred,” said Maria, “is a Derf! That is Fred spelled backwards.”
I recently had a reader write me and say that she works at a company that “sucks the Fredness right out of you!” So I started thinking about these anti-Fred people and organizations. They practice the Derf Factor. And what might The Derf Factor be? The principles would look something like this:
First, nobody can make any real difference so why try?
Secondly, relationships are messy-leave me alone.
Third, you can find the easiest way to do anything with the least amount of effort if you think long enough.
And finally, each day it is just the same old same old.
Thinking in terms of the opposite of the principles of The Fred Factor is almost funny in its negativity. What keeps this little exercise from being comedic is that we all meet people who live those principles. They might not verbalize it, but their behavior suggests a conscious or unconscious belief in them.
I don’t know of anybody who wants to be a Derf. The alternative of being a Fred is much more enjoyable, not just for the person who is the “Fred”, but for those they live and work with.
Nominate a FredHelp us acknowledge the Freds that we all encounter on a daily basis whether through work or in our lives outside of work. Please use the nomination form found here to tell us your Fred’s story. And please, tell a story not just, “I nominate Joe because he’s a great guy,” but tell us what actions of Joe’s make him a Fred. This kind of information will help us all become more Fred-like by providing us specific ideas and actions that we can model in our own lives. It’s a Fred-like activity in and of itself!Fred Inspires…
Here’s Pam’s story not about a Fred in her life but about how the Fred Factor is helping her not only be a Fred but to look for and develop Freds.
I will be attending an advanced leadership class in a few weeks and wanted to say thank you for writing this book. I have renewed energy and actually look for ways to “re-invent” myself on a daily basis. I find it takes less energy to be a positive thinker than a negative thinker. I am now looking for ways to find “FRED” in co-workers, customers, family, friends, etc. People have told me that I am so upbeat that it is almost “suspicious”. I love it. I want others to have the excitement that I feel. My biggest challenge is to motivate the pessimists. My favorite quote is from Martin Luther King Jr. who once said…”not everyone can be famous but everyone can be great. What makes us great is the service we provide”. I remember that quote every day because I want to provide the best posibble service every day to my employees, customers, family and fellow Postmasters. thank you for making me feel like I can truly make a difference.
Thanks Pam! We suspect that you are, indeed, a Fred!