What the Heck is your Raison D’etre? (excuse my French)

I was reading a book recently and the main character, a precocious 9 year-old boy, used this phrase on two occasions.  It gobbled up my attention – instantly.   It’s a French expression (of course) meaning reason or justification for existence.  In other words, purpose.

"The Thinker"

Think about your Purpose



In the past few months, I have been exposed to several articles on the value of crafting and practicing an elevator speech, a short presentation that communicates who a person is, what they do, and how that may be of value to others.  Such a tool seems mostly for entrepreneurs or business people but really it is useful for anyone who practices the art of networking, which really should be all of us.

I’ve been thinking of putting some time to developing my own  elevator speech, and, in the spirit of killing two birds with one stone, I think I’ve found a way to wire this into a current opportunity.  In a few weeks, I will be meeting with folks from the Prince George Chamber of Commerce to see if we can come up with a public speaking training seminar for their members.  This is a daunting task because no one can be trained in public speaking in a single session.  Therefore, I’m thinking a more useful enterprise might be to have a session on writing and delivering an elevator speech.

That brings me back to the title of this article because one of the key steps in creating such a story will be identifying one’s purpose, one’s raison d’etre. Even better I think if it can be expressed in a single sentence, which I recently saw on a Daniel Pink blog.  Since I will be doing some ponding on what my raison d’etre is, I would love to hear what yours might be also.  Post it in a comment below,
tweet me (@gsjonuk), or email it to me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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3 Responses to What the Heck is your Raison D’etre? (excuse my French)

  1. Suzanne says:

    That is something to think about …… why am I here? There is always the cliched, acceptable answer of “I want to make the world a better place” but what does that mean exactly, and how can that be achieved within one’s own real world constraints?

  2. Elaine says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this since I heard Allen Seckel speak at a leadership event in fall 2010.

    I was struck by the fact that he was very clear as to what his purpose and priorities were, and that anything outside of these did not command his time – that being clear on these two things is an incredibly effective decision-making tool for someone who obviously has endless demands on his time.

    I’ve been wondering since then how a person becomes clear on purpose and priorities. Sadly I don’t have any answers as of yet, just a long reflection on what this might be for me. I’m sure there are processes out there in the leadership development field to help in defining this, and it really would like be akin to your ‘elevator speech.’

    Oh, any chance you could include the URL for the Daniel Pink blog post you reference?

    Thanks for your musings and good luck!

  3. gsjonuk says:

    Here is the Daniel Pink blog post I referred to:http://www.danpink.com/archives/2011/01/whats-your-sentence-the-video

    Here is another article on the subject (thanks Elaine):
    http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2012/02/make-a-good-impression-in-30-s.html

    And here is a elevator speech generator that I haven’t get tried but hope to soon: http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/

    Thanks Elaine for your thoughts. Clear purpose and priorities are a blessing indeed. I hope my mucking around on this will help myself and others get a little closer to that.

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