“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”  (Chinese proverb)

The Oxford dictionary defines mentor as “an experienced and trusted adviser.” Most successful people have reached their achievements with the help of a mentor or mentors sometime during their careers. These are

people who have done it before, made lots of mistakes and despite the obstacles faced have found a way to succeed. Their success has not come from reading books; they have done it for real.

The benefits of engaging with them are to short-cut your route to success and avoid making mistakes which will cost you time and money. There is very little you will encounter in business that someone else has not encountered and overcome before. Why then re-invent the wheel when you don’t need to?

I have had several mentors over the past 20 years and even now I have one I regularly chat with. Each was carefully selected and each relationship was special. What I needed from the association was honest feedback and advice (without sugar-coating) which was exactly what I got, even though it was painful to receive at times.

I never wanted my mentors to automatically agree with me – instead I want them to challenge my thinking, ideas and assumptions and force me to look at things differently. I want them to help me think in new ways and not get stuck in a cycle of doing things the way I had always done them. In the end I was in a hurry and I decided I would rather emerge with a bruised ego from a chat with my mentor than have my plans slowed down by bad decisions that I could have otherwise avoided.

Be open-minded (and open-hearted) and you will attract and retain mentors who will be valuable to you. Seek out people who inspire you and ask for some of their time – you will be surprised at how many of them will be willing and happy to help you.

If you had a great mentor what could you achieve?