At this year’s PFO retreat, Jen Band and I led a session called “Start with the Why.” It was a beast of a session, too. Two hours of material with the full PFO group – 80 teens, 12 adult Advisors, 3 other staff members, and 8 alumni. The purpose of the session was to get the teens thinking about how we talk about Playing for Others. People ask the teens all the time, “what is PFO?” And it’s a harder question that you’d think! The session was designed to tee up the idea that, in order for people to really connect to the idea of PFO, we need to talk about why we exist and do what we do first. And then we can talk about how we do things.

I hope it doesn’t sound braggy to say that I think the session went well! I think the content was solid, and Jen and I are a pretty great team on delivery. And as we continue through the year, I’m finding that “start with the why” is becoming a touchstone for me. For sure, it’s transformed the way we talk about PFO on our website and in marketing materials, but that’s not really what I mean. It’s more of a reminder to myself to get out of my head – quit worrying about the how, and just start with the why. If the why is compelling, then just say yes! Worry about the how later.

My first few months with PFO full time have been full of lots of hows. And the biggest how for me has been our Corporate Partner Team. I have the immense honor of working with nine awesome teens who serve on this team and help support PFO by meeting with potential corporate donors to secure funding. It’s no small undertaking – and it’s completely unlike anything I’ve done before. I was definitely feeling the pressure (all of my own creation!) to figure out how to do this. How are we going to do this? How? How??

But you know what was amazing?

The teens knew why. They knew exactly why they were on this team. To learn and grow. To be an advocate for an organization that had made a difference for them. To contribute to PFO’s well-being and make sure it will continue. They were curious about the how and excited to get started, but they knew the most important things already.

Sure enough, we figured out the how for the Corporate teens. (And they’ve been doing SO WELL!) Honestly, these teens are so impressive. They’re 16 years old, going into corporate meetings and confidently, authentically sharing their passion for PFO with big-wigs all over Charlotte. They lay down the ask like it’s their job! Can you imagine a teenager being able to shake your hand, look you in the eye and tell you who they are and why they want to contribute to the world?

I’m so proud of them all – AJ, Anna, Caleb, Derek, Evey, Jeremiah, Juliana, Katherine and Lucy. They inspire me and remind me to get out of my head. Maybe I’m capable of more than I think. Maybe I can check my why, say yes and trust.

How? No – why!