There is an old Buddish proverb that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This quote may sound familiar but probably wouldn’t resonate unless you are ready to put it into action. In fact, most people hear what they want to hear and constantly filter information in and out. If you are not ready to receive, no matter how smart the advice is, nothing will get into your head. The teacher may be there but the student isn’t always capable of hearing or acting.

On the other hand, the majority of people feel they need to make their own mistakes in order to learn from them. However, there is plenty of data that shows the fastest road to success is to seek advice from individuals who have already spent years learning and have the wisdom we need.

I’m a big fan of mentoring and have at different times been on both the giving and receiving end of the relationship. These days, I often meet new graduates and entrepreneurs who are struggling to find sound advice. That is why I am a supporter and a mentor in the newly launched Irish International Business Network (IIBN) and IN-NYC’s Executive Mentoring Program 2012. Created in partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland, the initiative is designed to provide valuable professional development to mid-level Irish and Irish American executives based in New York City. The goal of the program is to recruit successful executives who will coach and develop the next generation of Irish and Irish American leaders across all industries. The six month program will match fifteen mentees with industry specific mentors who will work together from June-December 2012.

There are many benefits to seeking a mentor relationship. Brian Tracy, in his new book, Earn What You’re Really Worth, highlights how mentoring, as well as other personal development activities, can quickly increase anyone’s value in business. Here are some key points on how to find and utilize the right mentor.

First and most basic is you need to identify the areas of knowledge and expertise you will need to acquire to achieve your goals. Next, set clear objectives for your personal and business growth; and then look around and select the most successful people in the areas in which you need the most help.

Work, study, and practice continually to solidify the guidance. The very best mentors are the most interested in helping someone who is willing to learn and grow quickly. Remember the difference between a mentor, a friend, and a coach. Expect a mentor to tell you what you need to hear, not like a friend who may tell you what you want to hear. On a regular basis, send an email to communicate progress and current tasks. There is nothing that makes a potential mentor more open to helping you than your making it clear that you are following through, and the help is doing you some good. Keep the relationship positive and productive. Like any other relationship, it takes work on both sides to make mentoring work. Finally, remember that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Sometimes you will be the student and other times you may be the teacher — just be ready.

For more information on IIBN go to Connect with Maura on Twitter @MauraKellyMedia.

This article previously appeared in the Huffington Post.


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