What is coaching?

  • Coaching is a powerful, collaborative relationship between a coach and a willing individual which enables, through a process of discovery, goal setting, and strategic actions, the realization of extraordinary results. Coaching is a body of knowledge, a technology, and a style of relating that focuses on the development of human potential. Coaching is inter developmental in that the collaboration develops both the coach and the individual being coached.
  • “Masterful coaching involves helping people transform themselves, their communities, and their world.  It involves impacting people’s visions and values as well as helping them re-shape their way of being, thinking, and actions.  It involves challenging and supporting people in achieving higher levels of performance, while allowing them to bring out the best in themselves and those around them.  It means going through a deep learning process that results in embodying new skills and capabilities.  Masterful coaching involves expanding people’s capacity to take effective action.

~ Robert Hargrove, Masterful Coach, 1995

Coaching distinctions

Coaches vs Consultants

Coaches get paid for asking you questions.

Consultants are paid for giving you answers.

Coaches vs Counselors

Coaches help you create your future. 

Counselors help you resolve your past.

Coaches vs Mentors

Coaches get you to fly solo, and be accountable to yourself

Mentors take you under their wing

The Bicycle Analogy

 How is coaching different than hiring a consultant, working with a mentor, or seeing a therapist? Let’s start with a simple definition of each.

In this example I’m going to use the simple task of riding a bike and apply the context of consultant, therapist, mentor and coach to that goal. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that you used to ride a bike as a child, but as an adult it’s been difficult to pick it up again. You’d like to work with someone to help you fast track your goal, but which type of professional would be best?

If you work with…

A consultant: A consultant is an expert in bike riding. They’ve already mastered the bike riding process and figured out the most efficient way to do it. They will typically assess what you’ve been doing so far and provide you with a detailed plan on how to do it correctly, complete with a step by step process. They get paid to provide you with “how to ride a bike” answers.  They focus on providing answers to your problem.

A therapist: A therapist is most interested in “why” you are unable to ride a bike, and how much pain it is for you and if you have been hurt before while riding a bike. What’s in your past, or childhood, that presents a barrier to your learning? They dig in there and work with you to fix it. They focus on why the problem is there.

A mentor: A mentor has been riding a bike for quite some time and is there to share what they know about the process. They want to see you be successful and are willing to spend time with you. It could be compared to learning by seeing.  They most likely have had the problem too.

A coach: A coach offers a different type of relationship altogether. There’s a lot of asking and not much telling. They are your champion. Helping you achieve your goal of riding a bike by asking thought provoking questions and shining a light on your strengths. They work with you to tap into what you already know, and help you break through your limiting beliefs. A coach will run alongside of you holding the bike steady while you’re learning. They’re cheering you on every step of the way, and they let go of the bike when you’re ready to ride solo.  A coach is focused on you and asking the right questions to bring the right answers for you from you.  They are trained in discovery questioning so they can bring out the guru in you.  They believe you have the right answers inside of you and their job is to bring them out.

Even though each role is different, there can be, and often is, overlap.

I often use a combination of consulting and coaching with my clients.


Whether it be consulting, therapy, mentoring, or coaching; there is a time and place for all four. They often work together to help their clients achieve rich and radical results.  

If you’re interested in learning more about coaching and how, through working together, we can fast track your goals please contact Paula Lenz Kerr at: 208-336-9306 (text or call),