The journey to building a successful and thriving business is difficult. It helps to have a coach, a mentor and the self-discipline to hold yourself accountable. These three things are inter-dependent and while there are times in your career when you lean more on one or the other, it's important to have a clear picture around how each plays an important role in your personal development.

The Value of a Great Coach
Chad Cooper, an extremely accomplished coach for the Tony Robbins Institute put it this way:

I like to use a sports metaphor. Think of your life and your career as a game--The Game of Life. You already have the answers. A great coach looks at the overall game of your life and helps you make decisions and take action. Your coach sees things you don't because you're on the field and playing in the game. The coach is not in your game, but rather on the sidelines pointing out your strengths and strategies you've used to win.

Yes! This totally resonates with me. How often do we find ourselves working in our business rather than working on our business? The more we are on the field and making things happen for our company, the less time we are able to stand on the sidelines, objectively evaluate ourselves and improve our individual and collective performance.

A great coach is there to ensure you don't lose focus on the big picture of what you've set out to accomplish. Your coach is there to ensure you take the actions that are aligned to your purpose and ensure that you create the results you set out to achieve for yourself and your business.

How Mentors Differ from Coaches
Mentors play a different role than coaches and yet they are equally valuable to your success. A mentor is someone who's already achieved what you've set out to achieve for yourself. A great mentor has already experienced important lessons that he or she can share with you to help you grow personally and professionally.

Having a mentor is a lot like playing chess with a grandmaster who is talking through the important and different possible moves you can make on the chess board. It's important not to obsess about each possible move, but rather to work with your mentor to ensure that, more often than not, you're making the most appropriate moves for the given situation. Highly strategic and experienced, your mentor guides you on your journey of discovery so that you can become a better player faster.

The Art of Holding Yourself Accountable
Perhaps what's most important is understanding that neither a coach nor a mentor can do anything for you. While both will provide invaluable advice and counsel, it's still up to you to make it happen. This is why holding yourself accountable is critical if you wish to receive the full benefit from your coach and your mentor.

As Jeffrey Gitomer says, it's extremely important to "Kick your own ass!" As an entrepreneur, you took bold action to start your company or join a fledgling start-up business. Success, however, will only happen if you remain accountable and continue to take similar bold actions on a day in and day out basis. The art of holding yourself accountable boils down to living your purpose and staying in tune with the values you've established as part of starting your business.

Alec Granum said it best when he said, "It's not your strength that holds you to your purpose; it's the strength of the purpose itself." Amen, brother. If your purpose is strong and necessary, it's a hell of a lot easier to remain powerful and accountable to that purpose. Conversely, if your purpose is weak (i.e. "to maximize shareholder value" or "to make a lot of money"), then remaining accountable to that purpose becomes extremely difficult--not to mention the challenge of energizing and motivating your team.

Three Legs of the Stool
If you imagine that you're sitting on a three-legged stool, where the legs are made up of your coach, your mentor, and your resolve to remain accountable, then long-term personal and professional growth is well within your reach. Your mentor will help ensure you're headed in the right direction based on past experience. Your coach will ensure your mindset is a match to the results your committed to achieving. And by holding yourself accountable to these results, you put in the effort needed to achieve what you've set out to do.

Of course, there's a lot of work that goes into all of this, but you're up for the task. After all, you're an entrepreneur who set out to change the world. Your coach and your mentor will ensure that you accomplish what you've set out to do as efficiently and effectively as possible. Good luck and have fun as you master the game of life!