The Difference between a Coach, Mentor, Teacher and Consultant

Before a coach/guide can hold your deepest fears, champion your truest desires, and alchemize all that you know into soulful service to the world, you need to know what is it that you need and are looking for.

Imagine you need to go to a bike store and want to learn how to ride a bike.

A Coach Rides Along Side You

A coach will co-create with you your way of getting to the store and learning how to ride a bike. They'll give some wise guidance here and there, but they'll won't tell you want to do. They’ll ride their own bike alongside you, at your rhythm and pace, until you decide and figure out how you want to ride that bike.

They meet you where you're at and move you forward. Be sure to hire a coach who has been to the store you want to go to, otherwise you might end up with the best aircraft pilot in the world when cycling is what you were looking for.

A Mentor Rides In Front of You

A mentor will go ahead and tell you what to do because they’ve done it before, many times. They’ll put you on the bike, check your gear, tell you what you need to do, and ride in front of you so you can watch, replicate, and get the hang of it.

They’re excellent at leading you through shortcuts to the store and avoiding metaphorical potholes, alleyway muggers, and time wasted on trial and error. Be sure to hire a mentor who has walked their talk, otherwise you might end up with the blind leading the blind.

A Teacher Rides Behind You

A teacher will show you how to ride a bike in the school yard and then give you a map to the bike store so you can go off on your own. Whenever needed, you can come back to the teacher for more advanced riding techniques, but they usually don't get on the bike with you. You can even go to them when you've fallen off the bike and they'll encourage you to get back up.

They’re excellent at preparing you to leave the nest. Be sure to hire a teacher who is up-to-date on the latest in bike gear and riding techniques, otherwise you might end up with archaic and outdated gear, maps and techniques. Make sure they are current with the state of the world.

A Consultant Rides For You

A consultant will ride the bike to the store for you. Or better yet, they'll simply do the leg work for you so that you don't even need to learn how to ride a bike. They've got talents and skills that you don't have and aren't necessarily interested in acquiring.

They’re excellent at taking things off your plate. Be sure to give yourself some basic understanding of where the store is and how a bike works, otherwise you might end up hiring a consultant who goes to the wrong store, delivers the wrong package and you don't even realize the different.

8 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Coach / Guide

Your identity or business upgrade might call for a combination of the above. So here are 8 useful questions to ask to find the right match.

1. Do They Just Get You?

Beyond words or rational justification, do you feel a deep or instant sense of kinship, recognition, belonging, or being understood like "Wow, they just get me!" It's like your coach/guide is right inside your head and your heart.

2. Have they Walked their Talk?

Have they achieved what you want to achieved? Have they done what you're trying to do, and have they done it with ease, joy, simplicity and grace? Do you feel a bright, exciting sense of "I want to be just like them when I grow up!"

3. Are they qualified?

You may resonate and adore this person, but are they qualified and/or certified to support you. A coach needs to know how to handle someone's psyche, emotional realm and even spiritual domain with finesse. A mentor needs to show through their life that they have walked their talk. A teacher needs to a proven track record of successful students. A consultant needs a solid portfolio of having produced great work.

4. Do your values line up?

Ask them to list their top five values and to name their top 2 values out of those top 5. Are they similar or, even better, identical to yours? (If you don't know yours, this list of core values will be useful.) Go for gold and hire someone who has at least 4 out of 5 matching values.

5. Are they healthy & Happy?

You don't want to be guided by someone who became a millionaire, by sacrificing their health, marriage, well-being or relationships. Otherwise you'll end up hospitalized, alone and miserable just like them. Are they calm, joyful, fit, stable, balanced, with loving relationships? You get to decide who you role model after.

6. Do you like their Voice?

You'll be spending intimate and important time together. If you don't enjoy their voice or energy, no amount of titles or status of theirs will provide you an alivening and transformational journey. Feeling comforted or championed by their voice and energy creates trust and safety for you to transcend. Hire someone whom you enjoy laughing with.

I once hired an Irish man as my coach/mentor because I got swept up in the marketing hype. I didn't understand 1/3 of the things he said and much of the audio recordings sounded like a Lucky Charms cereal commercial. #hiringfail

7. Are you Hiring from Fear or Scarcity?

Are you hiring coach A over coach B because coach A is cheaper? Cheap sometimes attracts cheap. And if you're not willing to invest that amount in a high caliber coach then why would others invest that amount in your products / services?

8. What is the percentage breakdown of their role?

Flat out ask them to break down the percentage of their role. Eg. 40% coach, 40% mentor, 20% teacher. If they don't know the difference between each role, as surely there is overlap between all 4 roles, send them this article. Really experienced coaches/guides know exactly what the percentage breakdown is for the hats their wear with clients.

Stop watching time pass you by. Stop watching your potential wither away! 

If you need clarity or guidance, consider enrolling in one of our coaching program.

Live fierce, live free.

xo, Ella

(First Published Jun 10, 2016)



Having navigated 131 countries, 87 emotions, 46.5 traumas, and 16 careers, Ellany Lea inspires and guides phoenixes, overachievers, entrepreneurs and wayshowers to live fierce, fulfilled and free.