Become A Coach:

The Six Fundamentals of Professional Coaching.

There’s never been a better time than now to become a coach. The self-improvement market continues to grow, and, by 2022, it is predicted to generate more than $13.2 billion dollars in the United States alone. This includes:








People are eager to invest in improving their lives and work. If the desire to help others achieve and surpass their goals is in your heart, becoming a coach may be for you.


Isn’t the Market Saturated?

Despite the exponential growth and popularity of coaching, the industry is far from being saturated. The truth is that it’s filled with opportunity. Coaching represents the largest portion of the self-improvement market.

What Is Coaching?

If you’ve ever expressed your desire to become a coach to your family, friends, or colleagues, you might get met with some burning questions:

  • What is a coach?

  • Does coaching actually work?

  • What actually happens in a coaching session?

  • What is the difference between coaching, counseling, or mentoring?

  • How do you become a coach?

These are valid questions, yet they also indicate how few people understand or even know about coaching. Truly, the market is wide open with more opportunity than you may think!

Coaching is, at its core, a series of intentional conversations that empower a person to gain clarity and embody their calling. It is the art of influence that underpins leadership in the 21st century.

One of the primary differences between coaching and consulting or mentoring is that coaching draws out answers from within a person, whereas consulting and mentoring often involve putting in. Simply put, coaching is based on asking, whereas consulting and mentoring are based on telling.

(Keep reading for a list of powerful and effective coaching questions.)

To become an effective coach requires six fundamentals. Let’s take a look together.


1. Self-Awareness

Coaching helps make the unconscious, conscious. Our minds have two components: The  conscious and the subconscious. When you consider that our conscious mind directs only 3-5% of our thoughts, words, and actions, it’s clear who is really in the driver’s seat: Our subconscious mind.

Our subconscious mind is the “hard drive” for our operating system, and, as a coach, it’s important to understand this, not only in the case of your clients, but for yourself as well.

When people set out to be a coach, they carry with them a noble desire to help others set, achieve, and surpass their goals. But becoming ever more self-aware is a process that anyone who wants to become a coach must undergo first.

Can you imagine how many pitfalls you can avoid as a coach if you are self-aware? Coaching others will test your mettle, and starting a coaching business will do so even more because you are now stepping into the waters of entrepreneurship. Building a business isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you’re not self-aware.

From the beginning of our lives, our subconscious mind has been storing the feelings, emotions, thoughts, urges, and memories that all lay outside our conscious awareness. Primal by nature, it guards us from harm, and, as a result, the most painful, anxious, or high conflict events are often brought to our awareness first.

If you’ve ever wondered why you do irrational things despite knowing better, now you know. It’s not just the emotions of fear, anger, or anxiety, it’s the “hard drive” of your mind kicking in. Some people are afraid to fly, despite the fact that there is nearly an exponentially greater chance of getting into a car accident than an airplane crash. We can all picture how limited life could be for a person if he or she was never able to board an airplane.

This is a small example of the dynamic between the conscious and subconscious mind, but it’s important to understand this both for yourself and for those you coach. If a person can move past their own self-limiting beliefs and behaviors, they’ll discover the subconscious mind contains their innermost potential.


A coach uses techniques and processes that allow the subconscious to be brought into the conscious, resulting in transformational change. As Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your world and you will call it fate.”


2. Presence

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt they were in their own world? Perhaps you’ve driven to work only to realize you can’t remember the road you took to get there. These are everyday examples of how rare it is for us to operate in present-moment awareness.

A coach uses techniques and processes to help their clients be fully “presenced.” This is essential because it creates a safe place for clients to dig deep into their subconscious mind and access their innermost potential. The client can then explore and experiment with new thoughts, behaviors, ideas, and plans.


For you as a coach, being present with your clients is vital, and this is a natural segue into fundamental #3, Intentional Listening.


3. Intentional Listening

An effective coach listens to understand, not to reply. This idea certainly flies in the face of historical leadership practice!

Many people are so accustomed to being told what to do that they mistake giving advice for coaching. They take the approach modeled by sports coaches and incorrectly assume coaching is motivating people or telling them what play to run. It’s quite the opposite.

To get the most out of a player or team, a coach spends much more time in the office, film room, or locker room talking to players and helping them discover the keys to greater performance. A high-performing team on the field is the result of a well-coached team off the field. This can only happen when a coach intentionally listens to his or her players to mine key insights or self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.


One of the biggest communication problems we have in our society today is that we listen to reply instead of listening to understand. A coach uses active listening techniques to help clients identify the biggest challenge they are facing. Perhaps the biggest takeaway when it comes to intentional living: You must learn how to listen deeply to what’s being said and not being said.

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4. Curiosity

Curiosity feeds the self-discovery process and helps people expand their possibilities. If you’ve ever been around a curious toddler, you will almost always hear, “Why?” after answering one of their many questions. A similar childlike curiosity is essential to become a coach.

Curiosity has the power to open doors that the client has closed, locked, and thrown away the key to. Once that door is open, the client can explore a new awareness of their resourcefulness to overcome challenges, limiting belief systems, negative thoughts, and doubt.


In the hands of an effective coach, curiosity can be the spark that compels the client to turn off the auto-pilot and get into the driver’s seat of their life.


5. Effective Questioning

There is a difference between questioning and effective questioning. An effective question is open-ended, probes further into what the client is thinking and feeling, and probes even deeper into what the client values and why those values are important. It’s important to note: In a coaching situation, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions.

Powerful questions can unlock life-changing answers. Eventually, new awareness will emerge for the client, empowering them to make the changes they want in their life.

Save this article and consider using these questions in your next coaching session:

  • 1

    What is the greatest lesson you have learned?

    This allows you to tap into someone’s wisdom.

  • 2

    What are you learning now?

    This allows you to discover a person’s passion.

  • 3

    How has failure shaped your life?

    This gives you insight into a person’s attitude.

  • 4

    What people do you know whom I should know?

    This allows you to engage or discover a person’s network.

  • 5

    What have you read that I should read?

    This gives you insight into their personal growth plan.

  • 6

    What have you done that I should do?

    This gives you insight into a person’s experiences.

  • 7

    How can I add value to you?

    This shows your gratitude and desire to add value to them.

These are just a few of the many questions we teach our coaches in the Maxwell Method of Coaching.


6. Intuition

How do you develop something as fluid as intuition? The first step is to learn how the mind and creative process works – this way, you know how to influence your clients to higher levels of performance.

One of the speakers at our next International Maxwell Certification event is Robert Cialdini, the seminal expert in the field of influence and persuasion. His 35 years of evidence-based research is documented in his acclaimed New York Times best-sellers, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. We highly recommend both of these titles.

Once you learn how the mind and creative process works, you have a framework from which you can sharpen your intuition. Intuition is vital because, in a coaching relationship, the client sets the agenda, not you. Your role is to be a guide to help them discover there is more than just one path ahead, and then guide them on the path they feel is best.

A Short Outline of the
Maxwell Method of coaching Curriculum:

If you want to become a coach, it’s important that you understand and embody these 6 fundamentals.

The John Maxwell Team has trained over 20,000 coaches worldwide, and we use this rigorous curriculum to ensure that you, or anyone else who joins our certification program, has all the tools necessary to increase their influence, impact, and income.

  • What Makes Coaching Unique

  • The Difference Between Coaching and Other Learning Modalities, such as Teaching, Training, and Mentoring

  • How the Mind and Creative Process Works – So You Know How to Influence Your Clients to Higher Levels of Performance

  • The Six Contexts of Professional Coaching

  • How to Ask Powerful, Life-changing Questions

  • How to Listen Deeply to What’s Being Said and Not Being Said

  • The Coaching Model and How to Structure Your Coaching Interactions – with Live Examples

  • How to Conduct a Successful Intake Session with Your Clients

  • How Change Impacts the Mind and How to Prepare Your Client for It

  • How to Coach Groups and Teams

  • What Traps to Look Out for and Avoid as a Coach

  • And much, much more!

Remember, there are immense opportunities in the coaching industry. By 2022, the industry is predicted to generate more than $13.2 billion dollars in the United States alone. Now that you’ve learned these Six Fundamentals of Professional Coaching, you’re one step closer to becoming a coach and helping people and organizations move forward.

If you’re ready to increase your influence, impact, and income as a paid professional speaker, click here to book a call with one of our Program Coordinators.

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Join the John Maxwell Team Today.

Whether you’re looking to make a career pivot into coaching, or already coach and want better clients, bigger opportunities, and more impact, the John Maxwell Team can help bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be as a coach.

Why not schedule a free call with one of our Program Coordinators to see if our program is a good fit? If you’re ready to increase your influence, impact, and income as a coach, click here to book a call with one of our Program Coordinators.