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Why and How?

By September 5, 2012Latest from BowTie

(Steelers safety Ryan Clark, talks about the sickle cell cure initiative Tuesday at the team’s facility.)

When starting something new, no matter what it is, I think there are two make or break questions that must be asked: Why and How?

Yesterday, current Pittsburgh Steeler player, Ryan Clark launched an initiative called Cure League, which will focus on Sickle Cell Disease research and awareness. By the looks of it, Cure League will be successful based on the “why” and “how” of the organization. It’s also a great lesson on understanding the return on influence (ROI) through community collaboration.


The first tab on the Cure League website is “Ryan’s Story”, and if you don’t know his story already, it’s well documented and very compelling. You can find it here, (http://www.cureleague.org/ryans-story/). A personal story that’s compelling can be the foundation for purpose.

Another critical piece of the “Why” is related to the purpose of an organization. Sickle Cell is not a well known disease but affects millions. It’s estimated that 90 NFL players (about 3 per team) have the Sickle Cell trait (http://tinyurl.com/6tyo9zy). Therefore, Cure League seeks to bring awareness to a disease that needs just that, and awareness is the first step towards funding for a cure.


This is where most organizations fail. Many people have great ideas about “what” and “why” they want to do something new, but they fail to address the implementation piece, or in other words, the “How”.

The second tab on the Cure League website is “About the Cure League”, where it outlines goals of the organization and explains how people can get involved. More importantly, it introduces the collaboration between Cure League and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Take Away?

Ryan Clark is 1 of 53. He is just 1 person on a roster of 53 elite NFL athletes in the city of Pittsburgh. Whether he likes it or not, he has significant influence in that city and has chosen to use it as an opportunity to pursue his purpose off the field.

Kudos to Ryan Clark for thinking critically about “why” he was going to start Cure League and “how” he could implement his purpose with help from the Pittsburgh community…in this case, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).


In every NFL city, all 53 players have a tremendous amount of influence to be utilized as an obligation or opportunity. If they find their “why” and “how” off the field, the community will greet them with open arms and together they will find purpose.

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