Dictionary

Proficiency (aka If Skills Can Be Taught, They Can Be Learned)

[Noun; ~ Pronunciation: /pruh-fish-uh n-see/]

  • Definition: Realising your skill set can grow, expand, with a little (or a lot of) time and devotion. Don’t give up on something you want but aren’t good at, not before you’ve really given it a fair try. Or two. Or  ten.

proficiency

“I glory in the fact that a human being has multiple talents and exercises them all with a degree of integrity and artistic proficiency. That’s what I do”
– Theodore Bikel –

When I was about four/five years old I thought I’d never know how to read. I am not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I think I did as the memory is funny to me and keeps popping up.

The thing was: I had two older sister who already could read. My parents could read, too, and so could my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, and everyone else I seemed to know. I felt stupid and upset and was sure I’d never, ever be able to read a text myself.

Today, my bookshelves are stuffed to their limits. That’s plural in both cases, yes. I even had to put a few less favourite books away because they no longer fit anywhere. Morale here: I was wrong. I did learn how to read, pretty good in fact (I once won a prize for reading out loud). My five-year-old me (up to a thirty-year-old me, I shamefully admit) didn’t realise there’s certain skills in life you can learn, even if you feel you’ll never be able to do so at first.

I feel exactly like my little-girl-me when I think about my coaching course. I know about the “learning curve”, which is low when you start out, questioning yourself whether you’re really up for it, and increases when you learn more and gain proficiency.

Me, I am at the start of that curve right now and I question myself a lot. But I know it’s normal and I’ll snap out of it. What I completely forgot about is how coaching someone is a skill, not a value. It’s not something you’re either born with or not, something you either have or lack. It’s something that can be taught.

Right now I feel like I’m just messing around without a clue and I keep receiving (valuable) feedback about the tons of things I do wrong. Because I am a theory person and this course is all about turning knowledge into practical skills. And this made me doubt myself, whether or not I’m a good coach.

Well, here’s the kicker: of course I am not a good coach. If I was, I wouldn’t need to go to school! Plus, the course has only just started, so there’s a whole year of improvement ahead of me! Geesh Sam, impatient much?

I’ll be fine. Coaching is a skill. So is reading. And in the end I became quite proficient at that; against all odds/my own predictions people finally managed to teach me how to read (turned out I was only being impatient, like I am now).

If learning how to read ended with me owning a lot of books, then I wonder what learning how to coach has in store for me ;)


What are skills you never thought you’d master? Or skills you’d like to have?
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11 thoughts on “Proficiency (aka If Skills Can Be Taught, They Can Be Learned)

  1. I have wanted to become a “power user” of spreadsheets for awhile now. In prior work experiences our data systems pretty much did what they needed us to do so while I used spreadsheets daily I never spent a ton of time creating them from scratch, from various data sources, etc. I know some folks who can do amazing things with Excel and Access software and still hope to someday be in a situation where I am tasked to do that kind of work repeatedly and become that “power user” at long last. (Practicing or learning outside of work just isn’t the same as having it be part of your daily routine!)

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    1. That sounds like an interesting goal, Bruce. Practice makes perfect and I agree: when you HAVE to do something day in day out, no choice, you’ll master it faster. I hope one day you’ll get a task that will involve all this. (I also secretly admire Excel miracle workers – no idea how they do it. I always end up in the same love-hate spiral I’ve had with Excel since the beginning).

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  2. For some people, a learning curve doesn’t curve at all–they gain a new skill suddenly, stay on a plateau for a while, and then jump to a greater height again. One of my daughters was like that, in the way she learned to read (after what seemed like months of struggle, the skill seemed to appear one morning when she got out of bed) and also in her music lessons and dance lessons. J.

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    1. Ha, that’s how I learned the Dutch word for ‘cocoa’ (cacao). Couldn’t read it, struggled with it for a long time, then one day I just had it. This was just one word, though. Your daughter sounds like a miracle talent in disguise. Is she still like this?

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  3. Since you have the incredible talent to make me smile in a jiffy, by just mentioning / recognizing / realizing / reminising (about) things that seemed so long forgotten, and thus lifting me up for days to come, just because I can relate to them and feeling I’m not the only “strangely unique” person in the world, does that count and qualify for a real serious coaching success already?

    Well, I darn well think it should! Dunno what makes you “a good coach” by your course’s definition, but I feel that the gift of empathy & understanding is pretty close to the “goal” already! To make people feel understood is quite a solid foundation from where you help people (re-)build their self-esteem —

    You definitely own that gift! I’d even dare to say it’s your trademark skill!

    Fancy a hot cocoa? Now? ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike, thank you. You made me giggle and blush, lol. Empathy is an important asset for a coach, but the coaching itself involves more (like, not advising people or solve their problems, which are the two things I love the most :’)).
      And I don’t like hot cocoa, but my tea tastes superb! :)

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  4. I used to be a really good saxophone player. I haven’t really played since 2007 when I got out of the Navy. I recently purchased a new saxophone and I now wonder if I can ever learn or regain the level of playing I once had. I am not driven the way I was when I was a kid first learning to play. I still know how to play, just not at a level where I’d maybe be hired to play. Make want to quit all over again.

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    1. Ah! You are at the same place I am regarding the learning thingy (I can’t find the right picture, but it’s a bit like you’re on top of one mountain, facing another mountain, and the learning line goes steeply down, that’s where your doubts are and the wondering if you’re good enough and the thinking about quitting. But then, as you keep trying, the learning line goes back up again and you’ll be at the top of the other mountain: well educated and happy you persevered. So Tony: don’t just give up. If you enjoy playing the saxophone, it can only get better. You don’t have to be an expert tomorrow. Next week will do just fine, too ;) (just kidding – but keep playing!)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting one (in the good sense of the word). I can read Greek but I don’t understand it. Languages… They interest me. Fascinating as always. I hope one day you get to write Arabic. If so, please compose a letter to Trump in that language (just for fun) or Geert Wilders ;)

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