Category Archives: Leadership

The Competition’s Over – Now What?

Check out the article I wrote that is printed in the latest SAI Pitchpipe and be sure to  bookmark it for future reference – you will need it!

The Competition’s Over – Now What Pitchpipe Feb 2014



Jan Carley, Inner Coach of Barbershop



Interference Management – What’s your level of mastery?

The only thing predictable in any SAI competition is the unpredictable. Despite our best efforts to reduce and eliminate all external interference, it is rare that we get through any competition experience without some unplanned occurrence.

The salient difference-maker when confronted with the inevitable interference (you know what I mean – buses late, traffic patterns bunching up, a suddenly ill chorus member) is not the interference itself, but how you handle the interference.  We cannot control circumstances, we can only control our reaction to those circumstances. We are the only thinkers in our own minds. Developing an A+ level of Interference Management Mastery will positively influence your performance experience and results.  

I had the fascinating volunteer job of working in the traffic pattern at our recent Regional competition and got to witness first-hand the varied mental state of all of the directors and choruses in the warm-up area after they experienced delays in the traffic pattern.  

Leaders:  When you do your competition planning, consider your mindset mastery level. Prepare your reaction to the inevitable interferences because your chorus will follow your modeling example.  Pre-plan the ways that you will refocus and support your chorus to refocus so that it becomes second nature.   Acknowledge the interference,  and make the choice then to let that interference go.  Take the lead in communicating with and encouraging your chorus members to do the same.

Does your goal-setting mindset need a shake-up?

I recently returned from the Sweet Adeline International Competition in Denver, and had an amazing week listening to the over 2,500 singers who graced the competition stage.  Having worked with many of the choruses competing, I know that the setting of goals was a part of their competition preparation. How each group felt about their competition experience (no matter what the result) was closely tied to how they framed their competition goals.

Goals can inspire you and give you focus and direction, yet they can also cripple you and provide mental interference that  can negatively affect your experience.

Click here to read the feature article (5 Killer Myths about Goals) in my latest e-newsletter to find out if your approach to goal-setting  might be doing your chorus more harm than good.

To your possibilities,

Jan Carley, Inner Coach of Barbershop


Goodbye carrots and sticks

It’s a frequent topic of discussion with many chorus leadership teams – How do we motivate members to show up?  To pass their qualifications sooner?  To learn their music earlier?  To take personal responsibility?  

Most of us in the mid-life age bracket grew up with the common “Carrot and Stick” motivational method of reward and punishment wherein good behavior was rewarded, and poor behavior was punished. We, in turn, frequently use that technique in our role as leaders to motivate others, still confused by why chorus members don’t step up to the plate and consistently take personal responsibility.

Motivating by fear may work in the short-term, however, the negative  emotional effects of a “Carrot and Stick” approach on individuals and the chorus culture are significant.  And the use of rewards as a motivational technique can actually serve to undermine one’s self-motivation, thus reducing the possibility of one taking personal responsibility.

Carrots and Sticks are so last century”, says Daniel H. Pink, in his brilliant new book, DRIVE – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Pink refers instead to 3 essential elements of true motivation (autonomy, mastery and purpose) that connect to create the most powerful form of motivation of all – intrinsic motivation – that which comes from within.

Pink says thattraditional ‘if-then’ rewards can actually give us less of what we want and can serve to diminish performance and crush creativity.”

I highly recommend Pink’s book to anyone in a leadership position.  


Jan Carley, Inner Coach of Barbershop

author, Harmony from the Inside Out

Harmony from the Inside Out at Men’s International

Heading to Kansas City? Be sure to pop by Harmony Marketplace and pick up a copy of the book barbershoppers are raving about – Harmony from the Inside Out. Directors and chorus members world-wide are embracing the principles in this popular book.  

Harmony from the Inside Out comprehensively outlines how to add the Inner Coaching piece to your barbershop toolbox not only to leverage successful competition results, but also to shift your chorus culture to one of possibility and positivity.  

Clay Hine (AVP, A Mighty Wind): “The more I see what incredible results Jan’s program produces, the more convinced I am of how important her book is to any ensemble’s success.”

Tom Metzger (REALTIME, Groupanizer) “Jan’s book cuts through the usual superficial acceptable wisdom and gets right to the fundamental causes of success and failure. Stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic – read this book.”

Sandy Marron (Master 700 director of the SAI 2010 International Silver Medalists, Lions Gate Chorus): “These inner coaching principles will positively change you and your chorus culture (or any team you might work with) forever”

Lisbet P. Kline (Director, Song of the Valley Chorus) Your book made the difference for my chorus this year for contest. In spite of using the Art of Possibility approach by Ben Zander for years, they for the first time were able to take what they are capable of onto the stage, and we improved 40 points to become the second most improved chorus.”

On Sale at HARMONY MARKETPLACE, or On Line at 

Bulk Sales for choruses – please email

Best of luck to all competitors!


Jan Carley, The Inner Coach of Barbershop

Author, Harmony from the Inside Out

Are you “expecting” too much?

I loved an article I read by Michael Neill, Genius Catalyst  called “All About Expectations.”  Michael says that the key to understanding expectations is:

Expectations exceeded bring good feelings; Expectations unrealized bring bad feelings;Expectations met bring nothing but more expectation

It has been my experience that most chorus directors and chorus leaders have “expectations” about what chorus members will do.  They “expect” them to work on their music at home, they “expect” them to show up on time, they “expect” them to pay their monthly membership dues etc…

Expectations are stories we believe about how others should behave. The more expectations we have, the more we set ourselves up for disappointment  because generally, people rebel against expectation.  

Instead of expectations,  experiment with simply setting clear standards and creating clear “agreements” with people around their behaviours based on mutual respect.

Experiment:  Identify an area of your chorus life in which you would like to improve the quality of the result you are producing.   *What expectations do you have of others in this area? *How might these expectations be getting in the way of creating the results you desire? *What is the standard you would like to establish for behaviour in this area? *What structures or systems could be put in place to help assist you in creating that standard? *How could you reach agreement with others to uphold that standard?

Please comment if you have any successes!

Inner Coach of Barbershop

Barbershop Harmony Society now selling Jan Carley’s book, Harmony from the Inside Out

The Barbershop Harmony Society is now selling Jan Carley’s new book, Harmony from the Inside Out – Creating and Living your Performance Potential, on line through their Harmony Marketplace website with FREE SHIPPING until Jan. 15th, 2010.

Read more about the book everyone is talking about by clicking on this link: Harmony from the Inside Out Media Release

“The more I see what incredible results Jan’s program produces, the more convinced I am of how important her book is to any ensemble’s success.”Clay Hine (director of Atlanta Vocal Project, and member of FRED, International Quartet Champion 1999)

“These inner coaching principles will positively change you and your chorus culture (or any team you might work with) forever.” – Sandy Marron (director of 2010 International Silver Medalists, Lions Gate Chorus):

 “Jan’s book cuts through the usual superficial acceptable wisdom and gets right to the fundamental causes of success and failure. Stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic – read this book.” – Tom Metzger, Quartet Champion REALTIME 2005, and proprietor of

“Jan is Canada’s Ben Zander (The Art of Possibility) Read this book – your life will thank you.” – Carollyne Conlinn, 2009 Canadian Coach of the Year:

 If you want to add more positivity and joy to your life, read Harmony from the Inside Out. Jan has truly opened up my inner world of possibility!” – Cammi MacKinlay (President-Elect, Sweet Adelines International):

 “I read this book from cover to cover on my flight to Nashville and found it a wonderful quick read, enlightening and uplifting (as you’d expect), with terrific reminders, examples, and extensions of the principles we’ve put in motion in our chorus over the past few months. The concepts and principles are solid and they work.” – Julie Starr (Director, Bay Area Showcase chorus):

 “Now, let me say that I’m only on page 55 but I am in love with your thought process and the easy way you explain the process of change. Your inspiring book should be required reading for every chorus member!” – Amanda Kaufmann (director, Capital Showcase Chorus)