The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn

The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn, was given to me by the principal of a school I worked for about 2 years ago. The entire staff was given a copy and asked to read it before our next meeting. It was meant to be a giant book club meet-up where we were to discuss the concepts outlined and ways in which we could apply them to our own teaching and learning dynamic within our classrooms as well as our daily interactions with one another. It was a great idea but between curriculum writing, lesson planning, marking and parent meetings I never quite got through the entire book. I remember my students asking me about it because they found almost every staff member walking around the campus with a copy! It was pretty funny.

Anyway… I finally picked it up again to revisit the core concepts and actually read it cover to cover!

In a nutshell, Mark (the author) had recently moved into a new neighbourhood. The morning after, Fred, his post carrier, knocks on his door and takes the time to introduce himself, have a little chat and cares enough to let Mark know that he would be able to hold his mail when he is traveling so as not to raise suspicion of an empty house and possible temptation for others to break in. And so the ‘Fred Factor’ is born. The idea is to bring passion and meaning to whatever it is you do, to go above and beyond without expecting anything in return. I know this sounds absurd in this day and age, but really when you do something with passion and show genuine care the good will come to you especially when you don’t expect it. Does that make sense at all?!

I wouldn’t want to spoil the read by re-wording the concepts outlined because it is done so well and explained in such a straightforward way I wouldn’t want to ruin it. But it would give you an idea as to what this self-help book is trying to achieve if I simply outline the titles of each part: Part 1: What’s a Fred?; Part 2: Becoming a Fred; Part 3: Developing Other Freds; Part 4: For the Love of Fred

I started reading this with the saying: “You reap what we sow” in mind. I thought that this was essentially what the book was all about. But this all changed when, as Oprah would say, the “Ah ha! Moment” hit me. This, for me, was when the author describes the concept of making a difference. We all want to “make a difference” right? Well he points out that regardless of what we do we are making a difference! What we really want to emphasize is what kind of a difference we want to make. A simple example: Whether or not we smile at the waiter who serves us our coffee will make a difference either way. If we choose to smile and be polite we may have a positive effect on his/her day. If we chose to ignore him/her… we’re still making a difference, it’s just not a positive one. So the next time I say “I want to make a difference” (which is a line I think about a lot) I’d rather be more specific and say that “I’d like to make a positive difference.” I’ve never really thought of this distinction… but it’s there, and the more aware we are aware of it the better.

After this “Ah ha! Moment”, another quote came to mind which I think describes the book better than the previous one, and that is: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi.

The best way to understand The Fred Factor is to read it! And I do recommend it quite highly.

Happy reading! :@)