What I learned about business from singing in a choir

by Margaret Ryland

I’m singing in a choir again. After a 15-year hiatus since I sang in choirs all through childhood and adolescence.

It was unexpected. A friend roped me in, and despite feeling too-busy I said yes.

In just 2 months I’ve learned so much about collaboration, leadership, working under pressure and other things relative to running a business.

Here are a few of them:

  • To succeed (i.e. sound good) you must listen → truly listening is crucial to the success of a joint effort.
  • The good of the whole comes before yourself, your ego, what you sound like → not because of a misplaced false humility, but because the result will be massively better, and that’s what you want, right?
  • You will fill whatever time you have to rehearse → if you give yourselve shorter limits, you’ll “ship” more stuff!
  • You think about your mistakes a lot more than the congregation → in the business sphere, it’s easy to obsess over our mistakes and failures, but in reality people are mostly just thinking about themselves.
  • A good leader is invaluable to a choir, and in our case, the director is an amateur, which makes her more empathetic → leadership consists often in “getting in the weeds” with the group, and having the humility and passion to do this with zest.

Though it has taught me some interesting lessons, I’m most thankful for the opportunity to be in a room with some wonderful people and create something beautiful.

Week after week. Whether I feel like it or not. Because others are depending on me.