Six Secrets to Success – Lessons for business and life from A Capella Gold

The following blog post was written by Jane Bytheway of Beyond Possibilities following a workshop held in December 2017 at the Leeds Business Network.

Leeds-based ladies barbershop chorus, The White Rosettes, achieved outstanding success in 2017 – results that have never been achieved by any other barbershop chorus:

  • They won their 3rd successive gold medal in the European Championships
  • Their 16th gold medal in the UK’s National Championships

Having joined The White Rosettes in January 2015, workshop host, Jane Bytheway from Beyond Possibilities shared six key that lie behind this unprecedented success – secrets we can all apply to business and to life in order to create the success we really want. And I use the word create deliberately, because it is an active process that requires ongoing attention.

So here is an overview of the six secrets:

Secret Number 1: Clear intention

In preparation for the competition, The White Rosettes were clear that we wanted to be the very best we could be on the competition stage, both individually and collectively.

We wanted to move and inspire the judges and the audience, and for them to know from our performance that we are committed to continually improving and growing. If we could deliver that, it would give us the best possible chance of the gold medals. In spite of the unprecedented run of gold medals, we don’t take anything for granted – hence the intention to be the very best we can be (whilst also having fun along the way – there are many laughs within a group of 70 women!)

What is it that you really want to create in 2018?

And I believe that Secret Number 1only works when taken together with:

Secret Number 2: Know your purpose – your Why

Spend some time exploring what achieving your outcome will give to you, and write down a list. How will you feel … about life? About yourself? What will you have that you don’t currently have? What will you be saying to yourself?

When you truly connect with your Why, you engage your emotions as well as your rational brain (see Simon Sinek talk about this, the Golden Circle here: ). This level of engagement is what keeps you pushing forward, even when the going gets tough. How many times have you set off down a track, only to realise weeks / months later that you lost your way? Maybe challenges arose that knocked you off course. Without the emotional connection to your outcome, this is usually when you lose sight of what you wanted. WITH the emotional connection, you are far more likely to seek options and alternatives.

Secret Number 3: Invest in support and resources

What do you need to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be? New equipment? A bigger team? Outsourcing tasks? Funding? Development of your personal skills and abilities?

As a member of The White Rosettes, I am committed to attending the weekly rehearsals and the extra retreats we have at key times in our preparation. I commit to bringing my full attention to the rehearsal, to leaving the cares of the day behind and being present (which is actually very easy when you love what you do – more on that later). We listen to our Musical Director, Sally, as she focuses each rehearsal on different technical aspects of singing so that individually and as a group we can produce the best possible sound.

We also invest in external coaches to help us hone our skills: there’s one who has worked with us over several years of development … and to keep it fresh and bring in additional perspectives that build on that core, we also bring in other coaches who help us to add the nuances that keep us moving forward and continually improving.

Secret Number 4: Personal commitment

You might think that on the risers with 70 other women it is possible to “hide” e.g. if you have not yet full mastered the words or your own notes for a new song, or there’s still work to do on your posture, the way you produce the vowel sounds or choreography. No. Our amazing Musical Director, Sally, brings a light yet firm touch, an expectation that we will individually do what it takes to employ the skills we learn from our coaches and from her, and we are personally committed to building our skills. We build them one at a time, layering one on top of another … we lean on each other if we get tired or find something particularly challenging, and we never give up.

And we do the work. We do what it takes at home to learn and the hone new songs and choreography in between our weekly rehearsals. Some of us meet in mini groups for additional practice sessions. We record our singing at rehearsal and dissect it at home to see where we can make it better. And, most scary of all – we share our recordings with sections leaders so that we can get feedback on what is going well, and where to focus our attention for improvement.

It is harder to change than it is to stay the same.

It takes commitment and conscious effort. That’s why running a business can be such a challenge – I believe that you can only grow your business to the degree that you are willing to grow yourself. Change can feel scary at first – but when you make your personal commitment and do the work, the results will follow. What are you willing to commit to?

Secret Number 5: Build and protect your self-belief

2017 was the 40th anniversary year for The White Rosettes, and as part of our celebrations, our Musical Director was interviewed with a series of questions that could be posted on our website and Facebook. One of the questions was:

What is the secret to the historical success of The White Rosettes.

Her reply: Self-belief.

Since joining the chorus, I have seen this in action, and now live and breathe it myself. We believe we can and will continue to improve. Investing in the right support feeds that belief, as we learn from the coaches who share their knowledge and demonstrate their belief in us, too.

We see choruses in the USA achieving higher scores than we have done so far, (we are bumping up against a glass ceiling of 85%, which we would love to break through!) and that is an inspiration. With the commitment and the right support, we believe we can and will get there.

A great way to build self-belief is to create your personal Power 100 List. Write down 100 of your own skills, talents, successes and achievements in life, and really get connected to that list. Do the work.

And finally …

Secret Number 6: Love

We do it for love. Love of the art and science of singing … of each other as we support each other towards a shared outcome … of our inspiring Musical Director … of the golden awards and the applause and appreciation of our peers. Most of all, for the sheer love of singing together in harmony.


To see The White Rosettes in action in 2017, just click on the links:

Competing at the European and National Championships:

Guest performance at the Holland Harmony convention:


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