This past weekend I did some rock climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper Arkansas. This was the first time I've ever done any climbing outdoors, after doing gym climbing for the past few months.
Outdoor climbing was a lot different from climbing in the gym. In the gym there are a set of holds that you follow as you climb up, all marked with colored tape so you know where to go next. Outdoors, you have to figure out where to grab and step. It becomes a problem solving activity as much as a test of physical capability to get to the top.
I thought about how this resembles the difference between taking a training class and working in the real world. A training class is like the gym, you are guided along. In the real world, you have to take what you learned in training and use that to solve problems you didn't face in the gym, or class.
As this was my first time outdoors, I have a lot to learn about climbing, just like a new project manager. It will only be through experience that I learn how to climb better. The other thing I had was a group of more experienced people to help show me the way, just like a new project manager should have a coach or mentor to help show them the way. No one can climb that cliff for me, but they can help me see the path.