Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

All personal growth requires effort, willingness to try, to fail, to try again, learn and eventually grow from the experience. In common parlance, there's no gain without pain. All to often I hear mentors or mentees bemoaning a lack of progress and an absence of spark in the mentoring relationship. On the hand, I also witness inspiring examples of working together, making progress and producing results that would not have been possible without the mentor-mentee relationship. Why do some mentor-mentee relationships succeed while others struggle, stutter and stop?

Every day many partners in their 50s and 60s in professional service firms ask themselves this taxing question, "What's next?". The question refers to 10, 20 or even 30 years ahead of them, the era some authors now call the 'Third Chapter'. Whether consciously or not, the question worries them because they- and their firm -  think in 20th century ways while facing 21st century reality. The new reality is much longer, more healthy life spans and the will to work for the individuals. And for their firms, it is the reservoir of talent and unique knowledge that resides in these individuals.

A distinguished blogger in Forbes magazine caught my attention with a topical and insightful way of thinking about what should mentoring mean for those 'stepping up' into leadership roles. As the recent epic struggles on the courts of the Australian Tennis Open dramatically demonstrated, competition brings out the best in a person in whatever she or he chooses to do. Using the Open as an analogy our blogger–Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of strategy and leadership at Tuck School of Business–questions the success of executive development in helping people 'step up'?

In the southern hemisphere, summer brings a unique opportunity every year. First comes Christmas when our work life is (almost) forgotten as families reunite, share food and gifts, and we anticipate a New Year and a fresh start. Then comes January, now almost gone, with quiet roads and empty offices, gifting us the opportunity to reflect, largely unencumbered by work concerns, about how we want to live our lives. Small wonder that most New Year resolutions are about giving more to those areas of life we've neglected - our health, our family, the people we mentor, our spiritual self.

I was interested to read in the Harvard Business Review last month an article entitled "The relationship you need to get right" (HBR, Oct 2011) - all about how the relationship between sponsor and protégé works best when it helps both parties. As you can read in my previous post on this blog, "Making the Master-Apprentice model work for you", I 100% agree. The authors even use the same words as I did: "a two-way street".

There’s a proven and centuries-old way of building intellectual capital in organisations. It is one of the most efficient ways for staff to cultivate their learning capacity and remain engaged and motivated. It’s the Master-Apprentice model. The theory is simple: as a master, you develop others, and as an apprentice, you learn from your supervisors and mentors.

It's an exciting time. I'm building my practice, Beaton Executive Coaching, and have just launched my new website. And I've also decided that after years of writing ideas down on bits of paper and filing them away, I'm going to start writing them down here, to share with friends, colleagues and clients. It's a new adventure and I hope you'll join me on the journey.