When I first got into coaching, I was surprised to see how disciplined coaching was in its methods toward approaching and encouraging breakthroughs in clients.  I was also surprised to find the confusion people had, mistaking this service for mentoring or consulting.  

In this post, I’ll clarify the differences between coaching, mentoring, and consulting.  This way, if you are interested in seeking assistance in any one of these areas, you can be sure you’re directing your attention toward the right one.  Also, if you are a provider of these services, it’s always nice to know where your offer should stop and where you are providing something different.  

These 3 have the ability to overlap but are each very specific in themselves.


Coaching is asking the right questions to cause a person to think creatively, create answers, and develop their own motivation.  There are times where we get so wrapped up in our ways of thinking we miss opportunities, perspectives, and alternatives which are sitting right in front of us.  Question have the ability to spark untapped resourcefulness.  Once this well have been uncovered, breakthroughs immediately follow.   

Some of the most effective questions I’ve asked in coaching are extremely simple, but uncommon in normal conversation.  Here are a few I invite you to try out sometime when you’re stumped and seeking a solution.  

  • What would you do if you did know ...?  (or any variation to eliminate an “I don’t know” response)
  • How will you remember to do this?  (Creating accountability for action)
  • What meaning are you giving that?  (When our emotions get the best of us)


Mentoring is acting as an experienced and trusted adviser.  Using your knowledge in a specific field, topic, or industry to guide others to recognize opportunities they are overlooking. Assisting someone to become more effective, efficient, and successful.  

An example of this could be a mentor bringing to light where there are gaps in your relationships and advise you to seek assistance with communication skills and career management.  In business a mentor could determine you are not utilizing email lists or creating additional online revenue streams effectively.  They would pass you off to someone who could bring those technical skills to assist develop that. Many coaches progress to mentoring when their knowledge supports the conversation.    


Consulting not only uses expert knowledge on a certain topic, field or industry, they also bring the technical knowledge to facilitate detailed solutions within that certain arena.  Not only do they extract your preferred outcomes, they’ll expose the the gaps to get there, and can advise the best methods to do so.  Extract, expose, and execute.  Consultants can be the meeting point between coaching and mentoring, however they do not fully replace either.

From the examples above, a consultant would take over where the mentors left off and would participate fully seeing the solution to the end.  They would provide the specific solutions needed in both cases.  

Though these often get confused and even overlapped by the service providers, Coaches help you come up with what you want and your belief behind achieving it, Mentors show you the way to get there, and Consultants provide you the means and tools to actually get there.  Each one of these services requires its own level of competencies and even carry the justification for some pretty substantial pricing differences.

Thank you,



Tony Kates

Tony Kates is the award-winning author of the #1 bestselling book, Refuze to Live Average, and the founder of Refuze.com, the world’s leading provider of male driven personal development ideas and training.  It is time for men to step into the true gre
atness they are capable of.  This requires us to not only appreciate the wisdom from our past, and to also openly accept a new awareness of what is required of us today in order to create a better tomorrow.

Daily Journey Journal Tony Kates