Thought of the Moment

The Difference Between Mentors & Life Coaches

Image credit to Stuart Miles at
Image credit to Stuart Miles at

This week, I read a statement from someone saying that a life coach is a mentor. This bothered me since I believe this is false.

When I hear the word “mentor”, I think of the relationship between someone older/more experienced teaching someone who is younger/less experienced in their career or their life in general. This is a relationship that is based out of trust and mutual agreement: no money is exchanged between the two parties and there is no “end date” for the relationship. I have had several mentors throughout my 20s, and these mentors came into my life through mutual settings, job situation, etc. They have been helpful with giving me direction in my career and also in my life and I am grateful for their selflessness to guide me along my own path.

Meanwhile, when I hear “life coach”, the relationship is different: I have come across quite a few life coaches who seem to only do their work because it’s how they make their living, NOT to genuinely help someone out (of course, there are exceptions to this). Also, money is involved in the relationship, where usually you will have x amount of sessions with the life coach until you have to pay up again or end your contract together. Although this relationship can (and should!) be based out of trust and mutual agreement as well, I don’t believe that life coaches can really equate to being “mentors”. Life coaches have different agendas than mentors do.

While both relationships are to be beneficial for the mentee/client, when money comes into the picture, the relationship changes from being purely altruistic to more of a transaction.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this: do you agree or disagree?