Becoming Our Best


When I found that expensive pen on the plane last December, it was a poignant moment: Ten years ago, I was given an identical pen as a groomsman's present at the wedding of a dear friend. That pen has traveled the world with me, and has even been held "hostage" on a return trip from Haiti, among numerous other adventures. My friend has since developed Alzheimer's and may not remember the wedding or the pen very well at this point. So when I found that pen last month, I thought, "here's a pen to replace mine, in case it ever gets lost!" Then in the next moment, "And mine is now probably going to get lost….".

I'm not given to gloom and doom, but that last feeling of potential loss seemed real. And then I actually did lose my identical Mont Blanc ballpoint pen on a trip from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles last month. Ugh! Now, I had to enter the airline's inefficient, impersonal lost and found system to try and get my own pen back. At the same time, the identical pen sits on my desk in the study at home, unclaimed and unused.

Sixteen of you responded to this moral quandary as I presented it last month. It was heartening to me that you took the time to share your thoughts, and you gave an array of wonderful perspectives, some remarkably clever, some blunt and to the point, some extraordinarily sensitive, some from other countries' cultures, and everything between.

Now I have the benefit of the full measure of this experience plus your advice. I have found an expensive pen and lost the identical pen. What shall I do now? Here it is:

Try three more times to talk with a human being about returning the pen. If I reach someone, send the pen to that person, who would then be responsible for returning it to the owner. If that doesn't work, send a Xerox copy of the pen to lost and found with my address and telephone number and hope the airline makes contact with the owner.

If contact is made through lost and found, return the pen to its rightful owner.

If nothing is heard from the pen's owner, donate the pen to a charitable organization for a fund-raising event and just buy myself a new Mont Blanc.

Write a letter to the CEO of the airline, telling them how I would improve their lost and found system.

Thanks again for your thoughts. I'll let you know if my pen is returned.

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

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