On the controls review at Gorman Heritage Farms (GHF) for Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, I looked into my old and tattered leather Coach briefcase and grabbed my Mont Blanc pen. I had used that pen during most of my years at Accenture. After all it was J.R. (one of my co-Accenture Partners) and I performing the interviews at GHF. I was living the nostalgic consulting days with J.R. using my old pen and briefcase.
Alas - the ink cartridge was dry (after all I had not touched the pen for over 10 years). So off to Staples to get replacement cartridges. You can't buy just one - they come in a two pack ($12.29). I probably have a stranded extra cartridge buried somewhere in the junk drawer contents of my old Accenture desk junk - but finding it would be impossible.
Mont Blanc's were the "in" pen during the 80's. Priced at greater than $100 it was the status symbol of its day (taking the place of the gold Cross pens). Today, the Miestertuck Le Grand retails for $425. Every consultant trying to emulate the Partners purchased their Mont Blancs to "look the part". I was racing to the top - so I needed the pen.
Status symbols (pens, watches, cell phones, rings, designer clothes, cars, and now Starbucks cups) are the many objects that people use to "elevate" themselves. Those objects (and their cost) become a vicious spiral of "keeping up". Peer pressure affects each of us in different ways at different times in our lives. In some cases we follow others thinking the path to the top is where everyone else is headed.
I received one of the better spiritual books about climbing to the top (as a gift for teaching Sunday School) called "Hope for the Flowers" by Trina Paulus. Here's the Amazon.com summary:
In the tale, the caterpillar heroes, Stripe and Yellow, want something more from
life than eating and growing bigger. They get caught up in a "caterpillar
pillar," a squirming mass of bodies, each determined to reach a top so far away
it can't be seen. Finally disillusioned, they discover that the way for the
caterpillars to find their particular "more," who they really are, is to enter
the cocoon and "...risk for the butterfly." Hope for the Flowers has helped
people gain the courage to leave jobs, change their lives and explore their love
for another human being.
Mont Blanc - The highest European Mountain Top. Every caterpillar's initial dream-- but with time runs out of ink. :)