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Provide value to customers and employers = make money

October 25, 2011

Learn from Fred, make a difference where you work!

Are you a Fred? If not, you should become one

Labor Day is a time to relax and enjoy a three-day weekend, but those who are unemployed or underemployed probably wish they were working. Unemployment is at nine percent, and 18 percent of Americans work part-time jobs or are unemployed and not looking for jobs anymore.
I write a lot about ways to stretch your dollar, but you cannot save what you do not have. Unless you have won the Lottery or inherited a sum of money, you likely need to have a job to earn a living. You can scrimp and save as much as possible, but sometimes the easiest way to clean up your finances is to make more money.
This may seem difficult in today’s current environment, especially for the unemployed or underemployed, but employees who make a difference are bound to be rewarded. Denver author and leadership development speaker Mark Sanborn writes about one such employee in his book “The Fred Factor.”
Fred, Mark’s real-life postal carrier, would go above and beyond to make sure Mark and everyone in the neighborhood received the best customer service possible. Fred would get to know each of his customers well in order to take good care of them — he would redeliver misplaced packages by other carriers, hold mail for those who frequently traveled for business without making them fill out dozens of papers at the post office, and get to know the families so he could deliver their special mail in special ways.
Fred took what many would consider an ordinary job and made it extraordinary. Sanborn points out four principles Fred displayed in his work that can be applied to any job to make you a phenomenal employee.
First, he writes, everyone makes a difference. Every job exists for a reason. You may think what you do is insignificant or not important, but every job can be done in a way that it is important. If you want to rise up, do not wait for the opportunity; make the opportunity. Dress and perform like you are in the job you want to be in, not necessarily your current role, and it will make you stand out.
Second, success is built on relationships. It is easy to simply get wrapped up in work tasks. These are important, but usually relationships you build are more important. Many people can do the job, but few can do the job and build partners within and outside their organization. You need people to succeed, whether they are customers or superiors, to help you along the way.
Third, you must continually provide value to others. There was a time when you could show up, have a good work ethic, and be successful. This is more difficult to do these days. Many jobs where one just needs to show up and work have been taken over by machines or outsourced overseas. You need to make a difference to someone else in order to keep and succeed in your job.
Finally, you can reinvent yourself regularly. You may be in a rut and feel like you are stuck, but luckily, every day is a new day. How you choose to treat others, how hard you work, and how you conduct yourself are all things you can change on a daily basis.
Usually, all it takes is one small step to make a change. If you want to be more adventurous, start out by taking a new route home from work. One baby step can quickly lead to others to make dramatic changes in your life. Some of our greatest heroes, such as Abraham Lincoln, are those who have chosen to rise again after defeat.
Labor Day gives us a chance to focus on the value we provide others through our labor every day. We are past the time when hard work is all we need to get us by. Maximize your earning potential, and ultimately boost your personal finance, by becoming a Fred in your line of work.
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