Why do I do it?

Last night, after rehearsing with the ‘Voices of The Day’ Choir, I watched this video on the TED website.

If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch it, very briefly:  Simon Sinek talks about how certain companies/people/innovators become more successful, or effective, in their market, through the ‘Golden Circle’.

The circle contains 3 rings, the outer is ‘What’, the 2nd is ‘How’ and in the centre, ‘Why’.  Sinek talks about how if you start with the ‘What’ (eg – ‘I make really good cakes’) then move to the ‘How’ (‘I use really great local ingredients’) and don’t quite reach the ‘Why’ – or at least don’t make it the primary focus – people are less likely to follow what you do, and believe in your brand (whatever it may be).

However, if you start with the most vital, the ‘Why’ (‘I think it’s hugely important to support local businesses, and I love making cakes that people enjoy’) then move to the ‘How’ and then the ‘What’ (‘so I use really great local ingredients, and make really good cakes’) you are more likely to get a following.  People like to know the reasons behind things, and are very good at ‘sniffing out’ those people who do what they do simply for profit or immediate success/fame.

Thoughts of tomorrow’s general election and the three main MPs spring to mind..

But also, this got me thinking..

Why do I do what I do?

Why do I want so much to be a jazz vocalist, and sing the material that I do?

(*This reminds me of a lyric I wrote in 2007 called ‘Why Do We Sing’ – I shall post it shortly afterwards..)

It certainly isn’t for the fortune or the fame, or I’d have picked something other than Jazz!  Similarly, I’d be out singing American Songbook, or doing loads of function gigs, dancing around to Dolly Parton and Beyonce and all the rest.

I like to sing the songs that, for some reasons, others have missed or neglected.  I like to bring them to life, perhaps with new lyrics, or a new arrangement, so people hear them differently and the composer get’s the recognition they are entitled to.  Why?  Because there are some great tunes out there that everyone seems to know, but there’s twice as many great tunes out there that people don’t yet – some are even yet to be written.  And I think it’s important people get to hear them.

And I LOVE singing them!

And I love SINGING – it’s not easy to make a living from; people will try and take advantage of you, and maybe even try to change who you are, and sometimes it’s not even easy overcoming the nerves or the practicalities of putting on a performance itself, but I still love it.  And when I think about a life without singing, and whether I should just get a ‘proper’ (for want of a better word) job and work my way up the system, I can’t even fathom what that life would be like. 

I know there are other people like me, in various areas of craft and skill – women who couldn’t imagine not being a mother, Doctors who couldn’t comprehend not helping people in the way that they do, people knowing from a young age that they’re going to be a teacher, or a photographer, or a scientist.  And I think that’s an amazing thing, no matter when in life you find it. 

I’m glad I have this feeling of a ‘vocation’.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s frustrating and infuriating and heartbreaking, but without it, I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t know the people I know, and certainly wouldn’t know the joy I know, having found what it is I’m supposed to do.  Everyone deserves to find that.

So there you go: my (rather long-winded) ‘Why’:  because it’s my calling.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So then, my ‘How’ follows: by working hard, and never giving up, and always striving for that elusive ‘best I can be’.

I know it might sound a little corny, but recently I was asked on a job application to talk about 2 things I was passionate about.  The first, obviously, was Music.  But the second was ‘self-development’.  It’s so important to me that I continue to improve in everything I do, and always do it (whatever it may be) to the highest standard I am currently able and always aim for higher.  The day I stop striving for that is the day I shouldn’t be doing it anymore.

About 3 years ago, I didn’t even know what self-development was! Claire Beecroft changed all that, and I’m so grateful she did.  Now, I find brilliant websites like TED and inspiring videos and books and people everywhere!

And the ‘What’:  Well, I guess that’s still a little to be decided, but if I have my way (through the How) it’ll be a successful career as an innovative Jazz Artist, who is lucky enough to do what she loves on a daily basis.

Of course, in a much smaller way, there’s also:

Why: I love singing, my band members are incredibly talented, and I would love to share our music with you in a live situation.

How: We have gigs around the country, which you can come watch us at.

What: On the 14th of June, we’ll be playing at Pizza on The Park in London, and it only costs £10 (that’s £5 cheaper than usual!) Hurray!


But seriously, I’m very lucky to be where I am, and am so grateful for everything that has brought and that keeps me here. 


Don’t forget to vote tomorrow – oo, it’s like Christmas eve.  And have a think about WHY the politicians are standing, rather than How they intend to get your vote and What they are promising.

Tessa x


One thought on “Why do I do it?

  1. An enjoyable read and a very good thought for the day. With this philosophy you should have a very good future in jazz. I wish I had started when I was your age. I started 10 years ago at the age of 40 but I am trying to make up for it by playing as much as I can and learning all the time from some of our best British jazz musicians. I hope to come and see you one day.

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