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So You Want to Become a Coach: Learning the Art and Science of Coaching

Updated: Nov 17, 2023




Pastors frequently ask me, "How can I learn to become a coach?"


I’ve been coaching professionally (i.e., paid clients) since May 2018. My interest in coaching grew out of my personal story and growth after a prolonged dark night of the soul.


In my healing process, I learned things about myself that I realized had held me back for most of my life. My willingness to face and fearlessly cut through my wounds, hurts, traumas, and pain opened up a new world for me. I also learned new skills about communicating, marketing, strategic thinking, listening, shadow work, uncovering limiting beliefs, and helping others to build life strategies and containers for growth in living out their mission.


Over the last five years, I've had the privilege of coaching pastors, entrepreneurs, and spiritually minded men and women in both one-on-one and group settings.


I love coaching. I wrote this post to share with you how I learned the art and science of coaching.


Books that Shaped Me:


Every book has the potential to teach you something about coaching. Refuse to read simply as a means for gathering mere information. The key is to apply insights and lessons from your reading into actual tactics/action steps and questions. Learn to read books as a means to helping yourself and others experience transformation.


I've read hundreds of books over the last 13 years that have helped me to develop into the person and coach that I am today. The following books are the curated few that I personally recommend because they authentically helped me to grow personally and taught me ideas and practices that I’ve integrated into my own style of coaching and into the programs that I presently offer. Check out www.deepdivespirituality.com to see my coaching programs.


Classical Resources

(Read the following two authors before any of the others and reread them annually. They are full of deep wisdom on human behavior and developing a mindset for thriving and flourishing regardless of external circumstances)


Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writing https://amzn.to/40Euc7T


Seneca, Letters from a Stoic https://amzn.to/3G4UBCa


The Best of the Best

Jack Canfield, The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be https://amzn.to/45ZIYXU


Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap https://amzn.to/479z0Vc and The Genius Zone https://amzn.to/47wCXCX 


Rich Litvin, The Prosperous Coach https://amzn.to/3MHaimW


James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life https://amzn.to/3ulgf2k


Richard Rohr, Falling Upwards https://amzn.to/3SzKT27 


Modern Writers:


John Maxwell, Thinking for a Change https://amzn.to/3QQ4okO  

----and Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success https://amzn.to/49GxvPV


John, O'Neil, The Paradox of Success: When Winning at Work Means Losing at Life https://amzn.to/47B9CHB


Keith Ellis, The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting For People Who Hate Setting Goals https://amzn.to/47eAH3e


Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich https://amzn.to/40Evcc9


Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team https://amzn.to/3SIVojK 

----and The Five Temptations of a CEO https://amzn.to/47io9Z3


Dan Sullivan, Always Be the Buyer: Attracting Other People's Highest Commitment to Your Biggest and Best Standards https://amzn.to/3SIce2g,

----The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers Guide to Happiness, Confidence and Success https://amzn.to/3ukWeJu,

-----Who not How https://amzn.to/3ubpHp1


Richard Bandler, How to Take Charge of Your Life: The User’s Guide to NLP https://amzn.to/


Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within https://amzn.to/49GYfju


Shirzad Chamine, Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours https://amzn.to/3SOms15


Training:

The best training to be a coach is actually experiencing coaching. I’ve participated in four coaching experiences as well as being mentored by Glenn Gutek of Awake Coaching and Consulting for whom I continue to work as a Sr Business Coach.


First, I hired Mark Danzey as my personal coach. Mark taught me how to use various tools that I continue to use to this day.


Second, I participated in the Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo and her team of coaches for its full 12 month cycle.


Third, I did a 10 day NLP intensive in 2018 (see below)


Last, I’ve been in the Positive Intelligence Grow program since January 2021 to increase my understanding of Saboteur work (see below)


I will until the day I die either be in a coaching relationship or under the care of a gifted therapist.


Here are some links to additional trainings (free and paid programs that I have found helpful):


Saboteur Training. www.positiveintelligence.com. I took a free coach training back in 2021 and for the last two years have subscribed to the Grow Program. Those who work with me know how much I love the Saboteur work as it integrates powerfully with spiritual formation principles


NLP: https://www.purenlp.com/ 10 Day Intensive in Orlando in 2018 with Richard Bandler (one of the two co-founders of NLP) and his associates John and Kathleen LaValle. I have a couple of Bandler’s books listed above. The intensive was pricey but hands on and fun.


Tony Robbins. I own all of his programs except for his ones on health and relationships. They are listed here: https://store.tonyrobbins.com/collections/breakthrough-app?_ga=2.16994681.1779309796.1699805656-502128627.1699805656


Jim Rohn. I own several of his CD programs. Most of these are now available on YouTube. Search Jim Rohn and enjoy a true master of his craft.


Rich Litvin. https://richlitvin.com/ search on YouTube and watch him coach. He is a master. Also sign up for his email list at his website. You’ll learn much about coaching simply from reading his weekly emails.


Seth Godin. Listen to his speeches on YouTube and/or search for interviews on Podcasts.


Podcasts:


10x Talk with Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish.

—-Start at earliest. Almost all are outstanding and will get you to think like a coach. Dan Sullivan is a genius.


Capability Amplifier: Mike Koenigs and Dan Sullivan

—focus on the ones where Dan Sullivan is present (skip most of the guests unless you are looking to coach high earning entrepreneurs)


The Big Leap Podcast: Gay Hendricks and Mike Koenigs

—Fantastic. Huge Gay Hendricks Fan (see his books above)


I Love Marketing Podcast: Joe Polish and Dean Jackson

—You’ll learn how to market and sell from two of the best. The focus isn’t on selling coaching but on marketing in general.


John Maxwell Leadership Podcast

—Listen to Maxwell’s teaching segment (usually 15 minutes). I often skip the discussion afterwards unless it is on point


The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo

—Listen from beginning. Don’t be put off by her focus on making large amounts of money (it’s part of her sales pitch and one of the struggles many pastors experience is guilt or shame about money). Her coaching “Model” is helpful. She has a clear way to coach and to help you think about your own thinking. My wife and I participated in her monthly coaching program for a full cycle (12 months). I learned about Dan Sullivan from listening to Brooke. Dan was her coach in the past.


How to Make Money as a Life Coach: Stacey Boehman

—Stacey was trained by Brooke Castillo. I find her ideas about marketing coaching to be helpful. She focuses on developing a compelling offer and a mindset of confidence in making your offer to those whom you can serve.


Academic Training and Ministry Work

M.Div. Asbury Theological Seminary. As part of the training to become a pastor, this degree included graduate level training in pastoral counseling, philosophy, teaching, and communication. Theses discplines have served me well. Also the privilege of serving three churches taught me much about working with people.


Lists of Questions:

Always be on a quest for a great question. Keep a journal handy at all times or have an app on your phone. I make it a practice to write down every great question that moves me. I’ve gathered questions from the ones asked to me by therapists and coaches, from podcasts I listen to, from the books I read. Questions are the currency of great coaching.


Here are two banks of questions from prominent thought leaders.



Rich Litvin, 121 Powerful Questions for Coaches and Leaders https://richlitvin.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Rich-Litvin-121-Powerful-Questions.pdf 


Conclusion:

Too many pastors underestimate their training and preparation. You are more ready to coach than you likely realize.


I am happy to answer any questions you may have or to receive suggestions to improve this post even more. If you are interested in working with an experienced coach who specializes in helping pastors and spiritually minded leaders, it would be a privilege to serve you during this season of your life. Email me today brian@brianrussellphd.com to set up a time to explore a coaching relationship with me.


*Links to Amazon are affiliate links. I'll receive a small fee from your purchase without effecting your purchase price. Proceeds support this website and the Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations Podcast

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