Think of your favorite sandwich or maybe you are a bigger fan of America’s favorite dunkable cookie – the Oreo. The best part of those pleasurable packages is in the middle. One might say “the most valuable part”. The middle is also where we can exercise the most control. The same sandwich can be ordered with a great deal of precision – add this, hold that. Similarly, if you have been down the cookie aisle recently, the number of Oreo reincarnations is staggering.
Regardless of the variations, however, the middle remains where the value and identity of the sandwich or cookie resides. The bread or cookie may hold the middle together for ease of consumption but what matters arguably lies in between. Of course, the 2 slices of bread or cookies have their own importance: they add to the presentation, the flavor and are above all, the vehicle for delivering that most coveted part – the middle. One might even say the sides help guide the application of the middle. But one would be hard-pressed to find a consumer willing to pay the full price of a sandwich or cookie for just the 2 sides without anything in the middle.
Training and Coaching work much in the same way: the sides are represented by two sessions and the middle is represented by the time in-between the two sessions. Often it is here – the middle portion of the training or coaching sandwich – where the character and quality of the training/coaching sandwich are formed. It is therefore important to remember that training or coaching are never a solitary exercise of what was discussed in a session and by that measure, the importance of the time between sessions cannot be overstated. Where sessions frame the information, investment in the time in-between which comprises of reflection, review, homework, application, discovery, and most importantly change, is critical to the value of the overall commodity – in this case, coaching or training. Seeing coaching or training in terms of the sessions alone is a myopic view and threatens to diminish the quality of the product.
So, the next time you find yourself in a training class or a coaching session, remember the value of the middle because the ‘nourishment’ you receive from that sandwich is determined by what you choose to put in the middle.
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