Among the vast number of things Dan Gaken has taught me this semester is the meaning of being a “Fred” and what it means to have that certain “Fred Factor” in your life. A fred is someone that continually works to create value for others and make a difference in the world. This definition is outlined in detail in the book The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn, which is a true story about the authors encounters with his spectacularly kind and caring mailman, Fred. The book goes on to inspire it’s readers to live each day with the mentality that Sanborn’s mailman Fred does, one that looks to spread kindness and compassion to others. Dan presented this idea to us and then generously provided us with Fred Factor books. He proceeded to challenge us to create and carry out our own Fred projects on campus or in the community and report back with our findings and potentially some results.
The group I was in decided to do our Fred project on spreading kindness in the form of anonymous notes that had words of encouragement on them and could be passed on from person to person. The cards said something along the lines of “Hi, you are an amazing person!” on one side and on the other side we printed the hash-tag #SharetheMagic in hopes that people would feel empowered enough to document their experience online and share with us.
Performing this project proved to be not only fun and exciting because we were working to create a more positive atmosphere on campus, but also educational because it taught us the true meaning of diversity in leadership. Much like Fred the mailman’s philosophy, our project taught us that everyone can make a difference, but not everyone goes about it in the same fashion and it’s in those precise differences that we found our Fred Factor.