Ready for your next good read?
We’ve assembled a sampling from the best life coaching books available, including both new releases as well as a handful of the tried-and-true classics you’ll want to be familiar with.
This collection of authors explore core themes related to the practice of life coaching, some of which include:
- How to find a job you love
- Living with passion and purpose
- Conscious leadership
- Why change can be challenging, and what to do about it
- Intentional life design
And yes, you may notice some of our picks aren’t explicitly “books about life coaching” - and that’s by design. These recommendations offer a range of examples that together demonstrate what life coaching is all about.
Mindset. Habits. Inner Guidance. Transformation.
In other words, some of the essential ingredients required for achieving meaningful outcomes as a coach!
Whether you're currently working as a coach, or considering becoming one, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here… along with practical guidance to help you make the right decision for your own life and career.
BEST LIFE COACHING BOOKS
Walks Of Life by Jill Fratto
If you’re looking for a how-to primer that covers the ins and outs of becoming a coach, consider this guide. Written by an ICF certified professional coach with more than 15 years of experience, it’s one of the best books on life coaching “from A-Z” that we’ve encountered recently. In it, Fratto addresses everything you need to know about how to successfully enter the coaching industry.
Walks of Life delivers practical guidance on a variety of topics, including:
- What life coaching is (and isn’t!)
- Characteristics of a good coach
- Coaching niches and specialties
- How to choose a coach training program
- The step-by-step process for getting certified as a coach
- Coaching tools and techniques
- Client case studies
- Finding employment as a coach
- Starting a life coaching business
- Marketing and attracting potential clients
- Contracting and ethics
Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten
Authors Boyatzis, Smith and Van Oosten contend that good coaching is about far more than helping people to achieve goals or solve problems. Rather, coaches can make the greatest impact by helping their clients connect (or re-connect!) to their personal vision, values, dreams, passion and purpose. This in turn stimulates intrinsic motivation, which is the foundation from which sustainable change and growth can arise.
Grounded in five-decades of research and experience, the authors draw directly from their work together at Case Western University, where they founded the Coaching Research Lab. The resulting guidance offered in this book is a useful primer on how to coach from a person-centered, rather than a problem-centered perspective.
“With this book, we present a message of hope. The way to engage and inspire people to learn and change in sustained ways is not difficult, although it may seem counterintuitive at times. We discuss how to stimulate a person to explore new ideas in the context of his dreams and personal vision while on the way to solving specific problems. We explore what effective coaches and helpers do to help individuals make sustained, desired change in their lives. We examine not only an approach for effective coaching, but also what it looks like and, perhaps more importantly, what it feels like to be engaged in a meaningful coaching relationship from the perspective of both the coach and the person being coached.” - Boyatzis, Smith and Van Oosten
Transformational Life Coaching: Creating Limitless Opportunities for Yourself and Others by Cherie Carter-Scott, PhD.
Considered by many to be “the original life coach," Cherie Carter-Scott has been in the game for decades. A Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, she’s blazed a clear path for others to follow. In 1974, she founded the first life coach training program, and has been teaching coaches ever since.
In this book, Carter-Scott distills the essentials of how to deliver “transformation” in practical terms. She shares proven strategies that have been taught to thousands of students at the MMS Worldwide Institute, including:
- The Checklist for a 'Brilliant' Session
- The importance of acknowledging, integrating, and honoring feelings
- Listening to messages to guide the process
- Use of flow, energy, and chakras in the coaching process
- How to transform old negative patterns into positive imprints
- How to market and build your coaching practice
- The Twelve Steps to Living the Process of Transformational Life Coaching
Alexis Rockley knows how to rock data, and she’s made it her mission to "bridge the gap between science and self help." In this book, she translates the research into practical terms, explaining why people get stuck… and what to do about it.
A positive-psychology trained coach, Rockley guides the reader on an entertaining adventure inside the mind. Her contention is that gurus, teachers, coaches and influencers can’t give us the magic formula to achieve calmer, happier, or more fulfilling life - or as she likes to call it, your "F*CKyeah!” Ultimately, each one of us must unlock the code to happiness for ourselves. What Rockwell offers in these pages is a jumpstart to that process, helping you unlearn what isn’t working… so that you can get down to what actually does.
"So many people want to reinvent their lives but get totally stuck. Rockley breaks down the science of how that happens, while providing readers with the tools to break through the self-sabotaging sh*t that’s holding them back. Want to start living a kick ass life on your terms? Start here.” - Sarah Bliss, author of Take the Leap: Change your Career, Change Your Life
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
The origins of this book makes for a great story in and of itself. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans both had long and interesting careers in Silicon Valley before they began teaching design theory at Stanford. After encountering student after student brimming with potential but lacking clear cut goals for the future, they wondered if the very same principles that apply to design thinking could be applied to life itself.
The outcome of that question turned into one of Stanford University’s most popular courses: “Designing Your Life”. It also resulted in some great research on the topic, this book, and a host of courses, workshops and frameworks!
If you’re intrigued by LIfe Design, you'll also want to check out the recent podcast hosted by JRNI co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux: What’s Life Design, and How Do You Use it in Coaching?
Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth, Tim Andres Pabon, and Gildan Medi, LLC
Now in its 4th edition, this practical manual is often referred to as “the coach’s bible.” Written by the founders of the Co-Active Training Institute (formerly The Coaches Training Institute), the authors continue to innovate as thought leaders within the coaching industry.
Written with business leaders in mind, this book provides a toolkit of resources that are easily applicable for coaches across practice specialties. It includes an exploration of techniques, exercises and ethical considerations that can help deepen and expand your practice as a coach or manager.
“Coaching basics are an essential skill set for any manager or leader who is interested in developing other people, so I use Co-Active Coaching material in most of the MBA courses I teach. Without fail, it engages the hearts and minds of people who care about acquiring meaningful and effective skills they can immediately put to use.” —Heidi Brooks, Ph.D., Director of Yale School of Management Mentoring Program, Lecturer at Yale School of Management, Clinical Assistant Professor at Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Our lives are ruled in large part by our habits. We know this. So why is it so hard to swap out a bad habit for a better one? MIT professor Ann M. Graybiel wondered the same thing, so she studied it. And what MIT researchers found has helped to shape our understanding of how the human brain works.
“I have become fascinated with habits and rituals — and with trying to understand the neurobiology that underlies these behaviors of ours. Our habits are so familiar to us, so common in our lives, that for many of the little habits and mannerisms that we have, we almost are unaware that we are doing them — from morning routines to evening routines.” - Ann M. Graybiel
According to Graybiel, our behaviors get wired in, like well worn trails inside the brain. This is why it can take a lot of effort to shift into a new pattern of behavior - we're mentally resisting the impulse to follow a more familiar route. To change a habit, we have to bushwack a new trail inside our mind.
In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains the Habit Loop that was discovered by Graybiel and her team of researchers at MIT, and how to disrupt it step by step. If you want to dive deeper into the theory and practice of habit change, we encourage you to explore Duhigg’s insightful and engaging work!
A Harvard-trained sociologist and columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Beck is a giant in the field of coaching - and for good reason. She's written several books on life coaching, but Finding Your Own North Star may well be her classic.
In this book, Beck guides the reader through the process of attuning to your own internal compass. Along the way, she deconstructs how we’ve been socialized to ignore our personal inner wisdom, and offers guidance on how to recalibrate. Packed with exercises, case studies, and techniques from her own coaching practice, Beck deftly connects data and theory together with its practical application.
“Explorers depend on the North Star when there are no other landmarks in sight. The same relationship exists between you and your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness. I believe that a knowledge of that perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in its unaltering spot.” — Martha Beck
Hungry for more brain candy?
JRNI Coaching is a community of intellectually curious humans dedicated to making an impact. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.