What do Bill Gates, Christian Dior, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They were all mentees at one point in their life; a fact they credited for their success.

The mentor-mentee relationship is one that has stood the test of time at the workplace. The mentor guides, gives advice and supports the mentee, helping hone his or her abilities and skills. Much like the guru-shishya relationship, which has always been a part of Indian culture.

Here’s why you need to work at getting yourself a mentor:

S/he offers a wealth and range of experience

US politician John C. Crosby got it right: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” A seasoned mentor has seen more of the world – and the market – than you have. Bolstering your experience with theirs can help you work more smartly, thinking in ways that never occurred to you earlier. Their wealth of knowledge can get you up to speed faster and shorten the learning curve.

They’ll get you past starting trouble

Dreams are a dime a dozen, but we often worry about converting them into goals. Life coach and speaker Dan Gheesling admits that whatever it is “that you want to accomplish in life, a mentor is going to kick start you on the path to achieve it”. A mentor can provide a spark to push you to take that first step.

S/he can stimulate personal and professional growth

Having been there, done that, mentors work as disciplinarians who create necessary boundaries that you can’t set for your own self. Leadership expert and author John C. Maxwell believes one of the greatest values of mentors “is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination”. A good mentor can help set your priorities, sharpen your focus, solidify your work ethic and nurture personal growth.

They offer encouragement and guide you along the path

Oprah Winfrey famously said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” The presence of a mentor makes it tougher for you to “cave in”, physically and emotionally. They function as cheerleaders and soundboards, offering hope and support when things don’t seem to be going according to plan.

They can observe and tell where you need to improve

Unless someone tells you brutally about your problem areas and weaknesses, chances are you won’t even acknowledge them, forget working on them. Celebrated filmmaker George Lucas once said, “Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It’s the only way we grow.”

A mentor can open the door to networks you can’t easily access

Bring connected, within and outside your organisation, is critical to achieving success and ensuring growth. Building and nurturing relationships for work isn’t easy, but a seasoned mentor often has built connections and can help you make the most of their hard-won networks.

A mentor is a free and priceless resource for life

A mentoring relationship typically grows in an organic manner through connections within your industry and networks. A mentor is not in it for the money and when you get one, s/he is yours for life. You may move up and on, but your mentor will always be looking out for you and offering insights beyond your knowledge.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.