On the first of February, I flew Virgin Airlines to Melbourne and Sydney. I love flying in the first week of the month, you get a brand new airline magazine (Velocity), which hasn’t had hundreds of people reading it before you. This month there was a great article by Deborah Hutton about having a mentor in your life.

The article was about role models, mentors and the importance of having good people around you as you develop your career. I loved the article, it was a timely reminder given I was on my way to see my mentor in Sydney, who’s been a part of my development, career and growth for the past 8 years.

I remember my first mentor was an amazing leadership coach, who told me one day I would understand how to use my gifts, which started the discussions about me becoming a coach, it took 3 years for coaching to become a reality but my mentor was there for the highs, lows, turns and twists.

I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, with successful outcomes. These trusted people have had a significant impact on my life. Helping me define my journey, paving the way before me and helping me realise that I too, can do it.

When I was in corporate, confused about my next step, it was my mentor who said I had created a cage for myself without having a succession plan in place, so together we worked on building up my team and helping me create a new role for myself. His business knowledge, insight and experience helped me through this challenge and opportunity.

I often get asked the difference between a coach and a mentor, which is a valid question and the best way I can explain it is that a coach will work with you based on your needs, issues, development and usually have immediate goals to achieve. They don’t need to experts in that specific field.

A mentor is more of a long-term relationship with someone who has experience, knowledge and the know how to get you where you want to go or at least offer advice and guidance as to what that might look like.

The two shouldn’t be confused and your coach shouldn’t replace your mentor or vice versa, the two bring different skills to the table and both are beneficial to you.

As we grow, so do our mentors, so be sure to open up the possibility of having many mentors in your life, and recognise when you need someone new, a new perspective, a new relationship and new mentor.

Find someone who is aligned to your development, your best interests and get ready for some healthy challenging discussions. Make your mentor part of the tribe you surround yourself with, to could be the best thing you do.

Do you have any stories, experiences, positive or negative you’d like to share about mentors?