Ten Best Personal Development Books for Life Coaches

Jul 30, 2014


Here’s something I absolutely know for sure.

A great life coach is a well read coach.

Amazing self-help and personal development books can truly make for a better life coach, particularly when they are not just read but implemented as well.  Because let’s face it – all the reading in the world will not create a better life, coach or entrepreneur if it doesn’t instil action and change within you.  That’s where the real magic lies.  Reading the words, letting them sink into your soul and mindset and then you (yes you!) gently (or maybe joltingly!) create positive change in your life, coaching skills and business.

So….let me help you fill out your bookshelf and maybe even get your Christmas wish list together early with my…

Ten Best Personal Development Books for Life Coaches


1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

My favourite book of all time introduced to me by Ellen De Generes when she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview it had helped her become a better person.  And it did the same for me. It’s small, simple, and profoundly powerful.  That’s all I’ll say.  Just get it.  Read it.  And live by the agreements.  You will see your self-belief and sense of calm as a coach and a person blossom as a result. 

2. The Desire Map by Danielle La Porte

The best book on setting goals, (that aren’t really goals anyway), with soul, ever written.  If you truly want to help your clients move beyond simple (and long term ineffective) goals like losing 10 kgs/pounds, finding a hot husband and earning more money, you need to desire up for yourself and then turn all your coaching sessions to go deep and ‘within’ to where the feeling magic in your clients lies.

3. Pulling Your Own Strings by Dr Wayne Dyer

First published way back in 1978, it’s still a bonafide winner of a book all these years later.  If you have ever wanted to know how to stop feeling hurt by others, obsessing what others think of you, how to confidently deal with difficult people and stop feeling lost and unseen, this book is a must read.  When you master the good Doc’s techniques and then help your clients do the same – they will think you’re magic.

4. The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr Brene Brown

The best book to read to help your clients understand that it is within their flaws, failings and vulnerable life lessons that they can find their greatest teachers.  No shame required.  And yes – it’s a given that it will help you understand that your own authenticity and vulnerability is one of the best and most beautiful things you can own – truly own – as a life coach.


5. Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

This is my go to book to recommend to any client who is struggling to make any big life decision – especially those related to their work, career, business or creative pursuits.  It’s the bible for people who are multi-passionate and overwhelmed by choosing which path is ‘right’ for them.  (They might just ALL be!)  Every client I have every suggested read Refuse to Choose has proclaimed it to be a ‘life changer and saver’ and that it helped them finally feel ‘normal.

6. Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff

No person – coach or client – can ever achieve anything truly great and lasting in their life if they are not kind to themselves and treat themselves as they would a cherished friend. Kristen Neff’s work is at once soft but strong and I have undoubtedly learnt that the more self-compassionate and kind I am to myself the more I can encourage my clients to be the same.  A tip – her website is full to the brim of incredible resources that all coaches should get their hands on.

7. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Self sabotaging?  Perfectionist?  Playing small?  Fearful of success even more than failure? Then take a big leap into reading this wonderful book by Gay Hendricks.  You will soon more than realise that there is nothing to fear, there is a place for us all to shine, and that the world needs you to step up.  Do it for yourself as a coach and inspire your clients to do the same.

8. The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

Now more than a decade old, the creative, spiritual and artistic way of life that Julia Cameron believes we can all live (and is inherent in our soul), still rings soundly true today.  You do not have to be an artiste to receive value from this book.  As a coach you are already a creative and this 12 week immersive guide will have you realise that truth and break through limiting beliefs and fears regarding your creative gifts as you do. 

9. Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

You might think it strange to include a book about eating in a list of the best personal development books for life coaches.  However if you’re a life coach who works with people on all areas of their life and how they can be happy and whole, then often goals and issues related to health and wellbeing will come to the fore.  And food and eating can be a big (and emotively charged) part of that for many, many people.  This incredible book is a life changing read that will quickly help you realise that even hinting to your clients that they try another diet to help them get the body and relationship with food they want is futile.  And that the way forward in this area of their life is all about love, mindfulness, connection and body acceptance.

10. Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak

The ‘greed is good’ Gordon Gekko of the 80’s is, (thank God), dead.  Squeezing people for money, underhanded sales tactics, veiled marketing truths – so yesterday.  So never required.  If you’re looking to build your coaching business (or indeed any business) in a way that has service and soul at its heart – then August’s gem of a book is a must read.  Drink between the lines of the many business industries he talks about and your business will never be the same – for the better.  

And yours beautiful you?  What book is missing from list that would make it on yours? Have you read some of these and they are your favourites too?  Or love to challenge me on some (or all!) for making my top ten?

We’d love for you to comment and share your own inspirational books with us!

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  1. renee bell

    ohhhh i LOVE this!!!
    i am a bit of a book “collector” and as part of all my studies i tend to buy books whenever i hear more than a few people say they are amazing. the end result is a pile bigger than i have time to read my way through. but it is nice that i have them sitting here – ready for when the time is perfect to read each one of them.
    funnily enough I have a book depository cart sitting here open, so will be adding a few of these that i haven’t already got to the order 🙂

    as for my vote – The Desire Map – without a doubt! i brought one of the very first copies, back when it was first released, and (my claim to fame) my review was even featured on her website!! yay 😉 i have a free weekend this one coming, and i think it might be time to re-do my core desired feelings!

    • Julie

      The Desire Map = amazing Renee. A true life changer. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Stephanie

    I love The Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson. As a coach and woman I have a really hard time accepting money for pretty much anything, especially coaching. Reading her book put a WHOLE new outlook on the exchange of money for me and it truly changed how I feel about my work.

    • Julie

      Thanks Stephanie! I love Marianne Williamson but I have never read that book. It just rocketed to the top of my ‘must read’ list.

  3. Diana

    Thanks Julie – lovely suggestions to add to my library and knowledge bank! Brene Brown is my absolute favourite – no word of a lie, her TED talk on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ changed my life. Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly are brilliant reads.
    I often come back to positive psychology – especially Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness and Flourish, and Chris Peterson’s Pursuing the Good Life.
    Next up for me is Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. Again, her TED talk was inspiring for me. Also Sonia Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness.

    • Julie

      Thank you SO much Diana for stopping by and adding in these suggestions. They all sound amazing!

  4. ellie hodges :: an emergent life

    Julie this is a great list and added to my must reads. Thankyou :). One of my top recommendations for people I work with and colleagues is Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Total life changer, very accessible and easy to go back to over and over and mine it for more wisdom.

    • Julie

      Thank you Ellie! I’m so inspired by all this reading I will soon be diving into.

  5. Christie

    Thanks so much for the thought and effort you’ve put into this Julie. Greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Julie

      Pleasure Christie!

  6. Fran

    Great post Julie – an awesome mix, I’ve got to get on to Brene Brown, can’t believe it’s taken me this long!

    I would add ‘Radical Forgiveness’ by Colin Tipping – it really helps you to see any challenging situation as a perfect opportunity to step up and heal old wounds. It was a life-changer for me 🙂 X

    • Julie

      Oh Fran – once you’ve connected with Brene there’s no turning back. She’s amazing.

  7. Katie - Conquering Fear Spiritually

    This is such a fantastic list- thanks Julie. Will definitely be looking up some of the ones I’ve never heard of, especially Kristen Neff’s work. Sounds like just what I need!

    Thank you again,
    Katie xx

    • Julie

      Kristen is incredible Katie – you will love her work.

  8. Ruth

    Thank you for this awesome list of books, Julie! I’ve not read quite a few of them, will definitely note these down and add them to my reading list. Some of the books that have made a big impact on my life are ‘Do the Work’ by Steven Pressfield, and ’18 Minutes’ by Peter Bregman. These are two of my favourites when it comes to getting the work done and having better time management 🙂

    • Julie

      They sound fantastic Ruth – next on my list!

  9. kirri

    So glad to see that you included Intuitive Eating in this list, Julie.
    That book was pivotal to my personal recovery with eating disorders and I often recommend it to my own clients.

    • Julie

      It’s amazing isn’t it Kirri? I think a must read for everyone.

  10. Naomi

    Thanks for sharing this list Julie. The Big Leap has been sitting in my kindle unread for a few months now (clearly I’m self-sabataging here!) so I must get reading it 🙂
    You’ve shared such a great list and I look forward to diving into them, especially The Four Agreements – it sounds like a life-changer!

    • Julie

      You’re so welcome Naomi – and I am sure you will love The Four Agreements. It’s truly wonderful.

  11. Claire | This is Lifeblood

    Wonderful list Julie – definitely a few favourites of mine and also a few I’ll be snapping up quick smart! I’d love to add ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, ‘Money: A Love Story’ by Kate Northrup, ‘Creating a Charmed Life’ by Victoria Moran and ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise Hay. I recommend (and refer back to) these four books constantly!

    • Julie

      Amazing suggestions Claire – thank you! My Christmas wish list is growing by the minute here…

  12. Naomi | Project Healthy Happy Me

    I’m just catching up on your blog posts Julie, and I absolutely love this one and all of the comments on it too. Some of these books were already on my reading list, and others are beautiful discoveries for the day. The thing that jumped out at me the most though – is that I must figure out a way to make reading time a priority in my life again. It seems to have dropped off the day with all the other things to do lately – it is so rewarding and beneficial and I really miss it. It’s time for me to head off and think up some strategies for ensuring our loving relationship continues… 😉

  13. Dawn Serra

    I adore Seth Godin’s “The Icarus Deception”. It is wildly profound and talks about how we’re only ever really told not to fly too close to the sun. But that’s only half the myth. Icarus would also die if he flew too low, and most of us are flying too low in our lives. It’s a challenge for all people who want to create a new way of life, of authenticity, to stop flying too low and to offer your gifts to the world.

    • Julie

      Oh yes Dawn – that’s a beauty. I love everything Seth writes and recently had the pleasure of hearing him speak. He was amazing.

  14. Sue Miller

    wow! I’m putting these on my christmas list 🙂
    thanks Julie

  15. Alex

    LOVE these. I am also a huge fan of “The Work” By Byron Katie. It’s so powerful in helping clients breakthrough + overcome limiting beliefs once and for all.

    • Julie

      Thank you for sharing that Alex. Many people love Byron Katie’s work so I really must get into it more myself!

  16. Kristin McMillan

    Thanks so much for this wonderful list! I would also add the following:

    Loving What Is by Byron Katie
    Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
    Inspired and Unstoppable by Tama Kieves
    Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron

    I’ll just be starting my coach training in January, but these are books that have made an incredible difference in my own life and I know I’ll use them in my coaching practice.

    • Julie

      Thank you so much Kristin. Our list is growing all the time which I love.

  17. Michelle Marie McGrath

    Great suggestions. A few of my all time favourites are also “A return to love” by Marianne Williamson, “Loving What Is” and “I need your love: is that true?” by Byron Katie, “Love for no reason” by Marci Shimoff and ‘Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss – all great classics that are great to go back to. Also anything by Paulo Coehlo xx

    • Julie

      Great suggestions thanks Michelle – some powerhouse women there in particular.

  18. Michelle Corral

    The 12 Pillars by Jim Rohn and Chris Widened. Excellent book and a must read!

    • Julie

      Thank you Michelle – that sounds like a great read.

  19. Tami Ryan

    i absolutely love the list and all the additions I’ve found in the comments.. i certainly have some future reading I’m excited about!!
    I would like to add to the list “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor about how we have the choice to be happy NOW, not when we get a better job, buy a bigger house, or loose those pesky 10 lbs. It completely changed my perspective of thinking and I’m all the more happy for it!
    Also, i love “the Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, which teaches you that all the small simple daily life choices we make add up to either a negative or positive outcome. We are in constant motion, either going up or down.

    Must haves for any avid reader.. check them out and let me know what you think 🙂
    Stay happy my friend,

  20. James Benjamin

    Master Of Disguises by James Benjamin

  21. Sarah

    What great reads! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Julie

      Our pleasure Sarah! Glad to hear you found it helpful.

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