“The training only got you so far,” I nodded. “But, your comfort level with the skills, competence only came with practice?”
Melanie confirmed, “Lots of practice.”
“What kind of practice?” I wanted to know.
“What do you mean?” Melanie looked puzzled. “I just did what I was supposed to do, over and over, at first in fits and starts, but eventually things got easier.”
“I mean, how often did you practice, what was your duration of practice? What was your depth of practice? What was your accuracy of practice? And, how did you know you were getting better?”
“In the beginning, it was slow, frustrating. I was uncomfortable. Things didn’t turn out as expected. Each way I turned, I thought someone was going to scream at me for doing it wrong.”
“Did anyone scream at you?” I asked.
“Not really,” she replied. “I know I got some sideways glances, and likely people were talking about me behind my back.”
“If no one was screaming at you, and perhaps people were talking about you behind your back, how did you know you were getting better, improving?”
“At some point,” Melanie thought out loud, “I just got more comfortable. Maybe people were still talking about me behind my back, but, it didn’t seem that way. It was just a feeling.”
“I started this conversation by asking you the difference between training and coaching,” I reminded her. “Training was organized, disciplined, it was an event, but it only got you to a minimum level of technical knowledge. Moving toward competence required practice.”
Melanie nodded. “It’s funny. Whenever we see someone struggle in their job, our first move is to send them back to training. And, often that training doesn’t have much impact. What you seem to be saying, is that when someone struggles, they may not need more training, they might just need more practice?”