The Book of Coaching for Extraordinary Coaches

"We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.”  - Paulo Coelho.

Coaches have the power to create a ripple effects of transformation within people’s lives and ministries. They reveal the greatness within clients where they experience more impact, more beauty, and more abundance as they design the kind of life they dream of.

The Book of Coaching for Extraordinary Coaches provides insights on ways to ignite lasting transformation for anyone who wants to step into their power and become the best version of themselves. Specifically, this book describes 3 critical elements of becoming an extraordinary coach with an extraordinary business - You, Your Methodologies, and Your Business. In this blog, I'm going to focus on the "you" and a few methodologies which I'll refer to as principles, practices or systems.

The author remarks that you and your coaching practice can’t move forward until you do. Personal and professional development is a lifelong endeavor. Time, money, and energy needs to be allocated for ongoing transformation. The author pays particular attention to how coaches use their time, dividing up tasks into fractured time (I call them sprints) where one focuses for a very short period of time before quickly moving on to something else, and deep work time (I call this design time). Deep work/design time requires a period of uninterrupted time to focus on a single task or activity. Coaches usually need more time for deep work to design better lives for themselves and their clients. Carving out more design time has been one of my biggest challenges lately. I often asked myself:
  • How can I schedule my time in ways I can go deep every day, and if not, every week?
  • Could I set aside an entire month every year to focus on deep work?
  • What are creative ways to create space for deep work on a regular basis?
  • What would I need to reduce or eliminate to create space for deep work?

I've also been experimenting with organizing my day around 4 "TIME" categories:
  • Treasured time - trips, time with friends and family, special occasions, hobbies, and other live-giving activities.
  • Investment time - anything that supports my personal and professional development and builds capacities such as reading books, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, mastering new skills, etc.
  • Marketing time - this includes writing, speaking, training, and coaching activities.
  • Execution time - brief, focused tasks that often include phone calls, emailing, texting, managing paperwork, running errands, etc.

When I started scheduling my time this way, I realized that I often deferred my Treasure time, I was sporadic in my Investment time, I needed to increase my Marketing time, and find ways to decrease my Execution time. I find it hard to be creative and reflective if I'm always rushing, reacting, and responding. Moving forward, I need more DESIGN time for Investment and Marketing initiatives as I seek to be more strategic in how I use my time each day.

The author encourages readers to how how they’ve changed in the last 3 years. Ask yourself these 5 questions:
  • Who were you then?
  • Who are you now?
  • What are the skills and that has brought you to this point in your life?
  • What other skills have you accumulated areas other than coaching?
  • Then, ask yourself “Where do I want to be 3 from now?” 

The author also reminds readers that one's ability to coach well can be held back by lack of awareness about our beliefs, backgrounds and mindset. Consider:
  • How has the culture that you were born into, grew up in, and currently live and work in, limiting what’s possible for you?
  • How are your current assumptions, attitudes, actions, and approaches working for you?
  • What role does gratitude, giving, and forgiveness play in your overall happiness?
  • Are the goals you set related to friends, family, faith, fitness, finances, fun, and the future the right ones?
  • Am you as concerned about creating a better future for yourself as you are for others?
  • I set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals that I've found to be very helpful. I used to set goals for each decade of my life. Should I try that again? What's your history and background about setting goals and being consistently intentional?
  • What role does fear play in the choices you make in life and when you're coaching?

The author stresses the importance of coaches being emotionally fit. I've listed 4 “fitness” characteristics that I’m striving to embed in my life and when I'm coaching. I focus on one characteristic each quarter:
  • 1 | Enthusiasm. What is the attitude that you bring to your live and written or recorded interactions? What is the energy behind your emails, your networking events and workshops? Your vibe shifts everything. Enthusiasm is contagious and can even transform the outcome of your enrollment conversations with potential clients.
  • 2 | Courage. Your willingness to share your voice, your opinion, and how you serve your clients, unapologetically. It includes the risks you are willing to take in your business.
  • 3 | Curiosity. This is a deep understanding and need to know more. It’s about wanting to understand why, to pursue the unknown, gain a different perspective or a different thought process, with a sense of openness and expansion.
  • 4 | Vulnerability. Celebrate the things that makes you human – including the imperfections and the mistakes. Being vulnerable builds trust, and highlights your unique personality, gifts and talents.

The assumptions we hold as a coach profoundly shape our coaching relationships. Listed below are a few principles and practices I adhere to as a coach and I'm wondering what you'd add to the list.
  • The client is the expert, not the coach. Coaches draw out the wisdom, creativity and yearnings of the client.
  • The client sets the agenda. Coaches learn to dance with the client as they follow the client’s lead.
  • The client is responsible for their outcomes and results.
  • Build rapport. Your client needs to feel comfortable sharing their deepest fears and challenges with you. Create a climate of trust and avoid doing anything that would break it.
  • Set clear Intentions. When you don’t set clear intentions at the start of your journey with a new client, you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of trouble. I usually ask the following questions when meeting with a new client: What are the outcomes we are expecting out of this coaching agreement or coaching session? What is the vision for our collective work? How will we get the results? How will we connect and engage during our time together? Are you a 100 % committed to this coaching experience? I've recently begun asking : Are you willing to NOT let your fear or anything else get in the way of your preferred future?
  • Be fully present. Staying present, at all times, is challenging. I create rituals before and during a session that help me remain present. 
  • Be fully you. When a client decides to work with you, they have decided to work with you. Not someone else. Not someone you’re pretending to be. So, bring your WHOLE self to the table.
  • Be brave. Being brave in your coaching allows you to ask questions that you would otherwise be hesitant to ask. 
  • It’s not About You … …or about what you think is right. It’s not about your systems and strategies or how good you are at what you do. Check your ego. It’s about the client. Their dreams. Their challenges. Their beliefs. Their lives. You are there to serve them. You are there to help them. Never forget that.
  • Don’t Judge and don't assume. Most of my regrets in coaching relationships or sessions are a result of doing one or both of these things. My beliefs are not neutral and the assumptions I make can be completely off-based. I need to be aware of these biases when coaching.

Becoming increasingly proficient in demonstrating ICF’s 8 Core Competencies is crucial to being an extraordinary coach. The system Vibrant Faith uses to train new coaches as they learn to demonstrate ICF's Core Competencies leads to consistent transformation within coaching relationships but these aren’t the only systems that coaches need in their life and their coaching practices: Listed below are systems I’ve established in my life and seek to continually refine:
  • My daily routine. For me, the secret to my success is found in my daily routine. If I am to master my day, I need to infuse each day with a series of rituals and practices that help me do what matters, build capacities, and support ongoing transformation in my life and those who I connect with each day.
  • My plans for tomorrow. Part of my daily routine includes spending 20 minutes at night mapping out plans for the next day. This has been a game changer for me in seeking to start strong everyday, and to create my list of a most important tasks (MITs) that include a series of sprints and design projects.
  • A funnel system for generating new clients and resourcing current and past clients.
  • An onboarding system that sets the stage for a trusting relationship, clear norms and expectations, when the relationship will be reviewed, etc.
  • A better business plan. It’s been long time since I’ve updated my plan and it needs refreshing. I need a mentor, a coach, and an accountability partner to do this well.

  • How does being an extraordinary coach look like for you?
  • How is fear or your self-imposed limitations preventing you from being extraordinary?
  • How do you help yourself and the people you coach schedule time for sprints and deep work?
  • What impact does your culture and upbringing have on your coaching?
  • What habits do you need to embed in your life?  In your coaching practice?
  • What principles, practices, and processes are you embedding into your coaching?
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Kim Boldt - November 17th, 2022 at 12:36am

Jim: this is a very wise and helpful post.

I am planning to work regularly with a counsellor as I'm developing this coaching practice to intentionally confront the limiting beliefs and narratives that are barriers to imagining a thriving future.

As well, Jim's list of life-wisdom here - particularly around taking time to invest in specific areas - is so helpful. Marking and making time for each of these would pay dividends, and develop a set of habits that allows for sustainable health and flourishing.

Lea Kone - November 20th, 2022 at 4:20pm

There are a lot of great nuggets here - this could be several blog posts. I really enjoy the idea of segmenting my time into those four key areas. There is not only a productivity and value difference when using these guidelines to set time allotments, but when running your own business (rather than being an employee) these guidelines become essential in order to be successful. I have started leaving two blocks of time each week without any meetings for what I call "project" work or that deeper creative work. It is both super effective time as well as much more fulfilling time.

Wendy Petrochko - November 30th, 2022 at 3:40pm

For me being an extraordinary coach will look like being authentic, fully present, and have great listening skills. I will be practicing faith over fear for my coaching practice. I want to trust that God has called me to this and that He will continue leading and guiding me. The concept of sprints and deep work are new for me I will need to think about how I will put these into practice. I am sure that my culture and upbringing will impact my coaching practice because I had challenges growing up and I think that will help me be more relatable to others. Habits that I need to add to my life more goal setting for myself and for my practice. My coaching practice will be bathed in prayer.

Jeff Smith - December 3rd, 2022 at 9:59am

The last two years I've spent a lot of time imagining better ways of living and leading. I've gotten better about prioritizing my time. I think the "4 time" categories could be a helpful addition to that. I've done a couple solo retreats for "design time" and I think I may do that again this year as I found it to be incredibly productive and yet also felt like Sabbath because I had no real interruptions and could also take breaks to nap, hike, or read for pleasure too. As we come to the end of this coaching course, while I've learned a lot that will be useful in a variety of settings, at the moment I don't see myself opening a coaching practice. But I will certainly use some coaching techniques in my travel business, with my kids, and with church councils and congregations I may serve.

Tom Pietz - December 4th, 2022 at 5:08pm

Jim, I am very similar to you in my goal planning. With the major areas, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and decade goals for a 100 year life plan. I believe God is focusing me on a niche of people who want to dream into their second half of life as a gift from God to be on a mission to serve Him, perhaps, in a different mode of operandi.

My hope is to be coach that LISTENS WELL first, ASKS POWERFUL QUESTIONS, and thirdly, FOLLOW THEIR LEAD to live out a dream that was maybe vague or not clearly defined, into clear goals like described above. For me to be a great coach, is to be very intentional in laying out that hope and executing the steps that get them to their preferred future.

I need to do the DEEP WORK, in crafting my LIFE PLAN in detail, craft a Life Plan Template for clients, and then do my deep work daily, weekly, monthly and yearly with blocks of time that create the sabbath space for the deep work.