Be more than a to-do-list Life Coach, become a  wisdom-led Master Coach.

A comprehensive guide to the 5 critical milestones of successful coaches, from calling to career.

Colleen-Joy MCC

Turn your Calling into a Career as a Certified Master Coach

How do you know that becoming a coach is your calling?

  • You feel inspired to inspire.
  • People are naturally drawn to you because you hold space for insight.
  • When you are focused on listening and speaking with depth, time disappears, and you feel yourself naturally.

But turning your calling to guide, coach and facilitate others into a client-attracting career can be challenging. After certification, or even before, you’re told to pick a niche, create a product, then promote the product to the world and presto, clients are meant to arrive.
This virtually never happens. 

Don’t be limited.  

“Col, it took me 3 years to realize the problem wasn’t my coaching, I got ICF certification, was even an ACC coach, but still no flow of clients. It was the niche nightmare. I was following everyone’s advice and trying to stay in 1 lane of coaching, only ‘life coaching’ it was a huge mistake.

The moment I un-nichedeverything changed.

Now I coach a mix of solutions for many different people. I love it, and so do my clients!”

This is what I’ve heard too many coaches tell me.

When we become master coaches, we transform our calling into a career. For over 20 years, I’ve seen my InnerLifeSkills graduate Master Coaches go through 5 critical milestones.

Life-Coaching can be “to-do-list” coaching, or it can have depth where you guide others build their Wisdom Wells, overcome inner obstacles and liberate their inner wealth.

If you’re interested in a surface style coaching, then my work is likely not for you. But suppose you want to create powerful safe spaces for clients to have meaningful “Aha!” breakthroughs, dig their Wisdom Wells, to find life-changing clarity and insight. In that case, I invite you to become a Master Coach following these stages of your development.

If you have natural coaching skills, love inspiring and guiding others, and want to turn this calling into an abundant career, use this guide to move through 5 Master Coach Milestones.

What you’ll learn in this guide:

Which development phase are you in?

If my InnerLifeSkills team and I can assist you at any stage, feel free to book a call with us; no strings attached, no high-pressure sales, just friendly expert guidance.

Use this checklist to mark milestones on your inspired journey to becoming an abundant master coach.


“I have clarity—I know becoming a professional (more than life coach) coach is my path.”


“I have master competencies to guide, inspire and coach professionally.”


“I have the credible certification I need to coach anyone, anywhere in the world.”


“I have the BIG 4 in-demand customizable toolboxesto be a trusted go-to Master Coach.”


“I have an evergreen businessattracting ideal clients and generating healthy cash flow.”

Here are my tips for each phase.

COLLEEN-JOY QUOTES go beyond to do list coaching


“I have clarity—I know being a professional coach is my path.”

When you start your journey to becoming a master coach, feeling unsure is natural.

“I’m not sure if I have what it takes. What if I can’t do this? Isn’t it arrogant to help others when my own life isn’t perfect?”

Self-doubt is not the enemy; it comes from love and care. Psychopaths don’t have self-doubt. Honor the fact that you are double-checking whether coaching is aligned with your purpose and making sure you help rather than hurt others.

Before making a confident commitment to becoming a master life coach, Enneagram, business or executive coach, we’ve seen our graduates need 3 areas of clarity.

We call these the 3 commitment checks.

It’s impossible to commit confidently (and not advisable) until you can say “yes” to these 3 checks.

  • #1 Understand what pure versus blended coaching is so that you can choose a pure or blended life coach training path.
  • #2 Understand the difference between coaching versus mentoring and therapy so you can say, “Yes, I know the difference.”
  • #3 Understand what it takes to succeed as a master coach so you can say “yes,” to the journey.

But don’t I also need to know what type of coach I want to be? Must I select a niche specialty before I train to be a life coach?” you may ask.


You don’t need clarification on what kind of coach you want to be, whether a life coach, Enneagram, business or executive coach etc. It is very limiting to box yourself in too soon.

If you study with InnerLifeSkills (the master coaching certification I authored and run), you’ll discover that having all 4 BIG coaching toolboxes (life coaching, business coaching, executive and Enneagram) is ideal. These 4 toolboxes help you to be free to custom build your coaching serviceswhich is a smart way to succeed (See Phase 4).

#1 Pure vs Blended Coach

  • Pure coaching = is no advice-giving. No leading clients, no telling them what to do, no advising. Here we empower our clients to empower themselves. We help them build a Wisdom Well to discover their inner guidance and resources.
  • Blended coaching = uses the best of pure coaching mixed with our expert advice and guidance. We empower clients to find their best solutions AND offer our knowledge and opinions.

Are you surprised to learn that pure coaching (as defined by the international coaching federation) means not giving any advice?

Does this mean that if you want to offer guidance and use your expertise, you must give up your dream of being a master coach?

No. Not at all.

Over 80% of my graduate master coaches are blended coaches.

Some combine Wellness and nutritional consultation work with master coaching; others use coaching as a management skill in organizations; we’ve also trained psychologists, psychiatrists, consultants and financial planners who offer blended coaching.

If you want to offer blended coaching, make sure your coaching certificate supports your blended coaching goal.

My InnerLifeSkills master coaching certification program offers both pure and blended coaching so that you can obtain internationally accredited ICF ACTP and CCE, and ACSTH certifications but still practice as a blended coach if you choose to.

Are you clear on the difference between pure and blended coaching? If so, tick this checkbox and move to the next check.

#2 Coaching vs mentoring versus therapy

The following metaphor is the easiest way to explain the difference between coaching mentoring and therapy. Your client wants to climb a mountain. There are three professionals on the mountain ready to assist.

  • A mentor stands at the summit, ready to advise your client based on their experience and expertise on walking the path, crossing the rivers, and getting to the summit.
  • A coach stands next to your client, ready to walk with them, help them find their clarity, reason and inspiration for walking the path, excavating their best solutions to overcome inner and outer obstacles until they reach the summit.
  • A therapist sits at basecamp under a tree ready to counsel your client, creating a safe space for them to share about their past, traumas and heal painful emotions.

A blended master coach can be all three if they have expertise and certification for all the roles.

  • You might choose to be both the mentor and coach, referring your client to a therapist if needed.
  • You might choose to be the coach and outsource the mentoring and therapy roles.

It’s entirely up to you.

Hopefully, this simple metaphor has helped you understand the key differences between these three important roles and how they complement and support each other.

If you understand the basic differences between coaching, mentoring and therapy and know which roles you want to play, you can check this commitment box and move on to the third and final check box of phase one.

Coaching vs therapy vs consulting vs training

 #3 Having what it takes to be a master coach

The important question to ask is, “Do I have what it takes?”

We often want certainty at the beginning of a journey; we want to know that our time and money won’t be wasted.

The truth is there are no guarantees, and wanting 100% certainty can be a major inner obstacle.

When I’ve wanted certainty in my life, my Wisdom Well meditations and self coaching have helped me. Instead of seeking certainty, I’ve looked for clarity of understanding and intuitive knowing. 

To help you decide if you have what it takes, I created a QUIZ (see below) with helpful tutorials. 


Coaching quiz do you have what it takes

“Do you have what it takes to be a Life Coach?” TAKE THE QUIZ

“Do you have what it takes to be an abundant life-changing Master Coach?
Let Colleen-Joy help you work that out while giving you some expert guidance.

My team and I are here to help you every step of the way to become a Master Coach.

If you can say, “Yes, I have natural coaching abilities because I already love inspiring and guiding others,” and “Yes, I’m willing to let go of wanting certainty because I trust I’ll find a way,” then you can tick this checkbox and move to phase two.

How do we guide, coach, teach and hold spaces for others with intuitive wisdom? Life Coaching can be surface to-do-list Pacman style or have enlightening depth. Colleen-Joy invites us to coach, guide and lead with wisdom. To marry master coaching skills with clear-seeing wisdom to that we can build Wisdom Wells for ourselves and others to transform the dead surface dessert of the mind, heart and gut into the garden of an enlightened life. The world needs enlightened wisdom-led guides with credible skills and confidence.


“I have the master competencies I need to confidently guide, inspire and coach professionally.”

What coaching competencies do you need to work anywhere in the world as a professional coach with confidence?

The ICF International Coaching Federation accredited certification and credential professional coaches at 3 levels ACC, PCC and MCC. Here’s my video tutorial on the difference between beginner vs master levels of coaching competencies.


“I have the credible certification I need to coach anyone anywhere .”

As life coaching, Enneagram Coaching, Executive and Business coaching has grown in popularity, so have the number of certification programs.

Do you need certification to work as a life coach? No.

In most countries, there is no legal requirement to be certified as a life coach, so many call themselves life coaches without any training.

But if, like me, you want to serve your clients at the highest and are committed to making this a real profession, then credible certification is important.

Credible Coaching Certification helps you:

  • Know you’re offering your clients the very best (and not causing harm)
  • Open doors to opportunities
  • Charge professional rates with confidence

I say credible certification because there are many certification mills where you can get a cheap or free certificate these days. Poor certification may repel your ideal clients.

The most credible life coach certification available in the world, in my opinion, is ICF International Coaching Federation accredited certification.

The ICF thoroughly checks everything from course materials to trainers’ expertise, even auditing the assessment process. They also continually update their competency models and are highly respected worldwide. Many corporate clients refuse to hire coaches without ICF credentialing or ICF certification.

But is Credible Coaching Certification enough?

No, unfortunately not.

Many ICF Certified Coaches with ICF accredited certification globally have no clients and have given up on their dream. This is the truth; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even top ICF certification may not be enough.

That is why Phase Four is critical.

If you’re serious about this journey and want to go all the way to being a master coach who can change lives, then choose a certification course that equips you to have Flexible Master level skills AND a unique multi-niche toolbox so that you can customize your coaching offers (instead of being trapped in 1 niche with limiting skills).

My trainers and I only offer ICF Accredited Master Coach courses, and every module we teach is accredited at their highest ACTP level 3. I’m credentialed with the ICF at their highest MCC master level, and currently, there are fewer than 500 MCC credential coaches worldwide.

But for now, if you agree that credible certification is the way to go, you can check this box.



“I have the BIG 4 in-demand customizable toolboxesto become a go-to coach.”

At the beginning of my career as a master coach trainer, more than 20 years ago, I believed coaches needed to choose one niche as quickly as possible to be successful.

This approach worked in the infancy of the coaching industry, but it soon stopped working, leaving many certified coaches struggling to find clients, even abandoning their dreams.

I’ve mentored certified coaches for ten or more years beyond their certification.

When the pandemic hit, many coaches lost their incomebut virtually all of my top master coaches had record income years and played a pivotal role in supporting their corporate and individual clients through very difficult times.

So I interviewed them to find out what they were doing right to help our other coaches follow and remain resilient during this crisis.

I asked these master coaches many questions, including, “What kind of coaching are you offering?”

To my surprise, not a single one of them gave me a single answer.

All who thrived during the global downturn offered several types of coaching.

That’s how I identified what we now call “The Big 4 Coaching Toolboxes.” These big 4 in-demand coaching services are the key to custom building coaching solutions for multiple niche markets.

Instead of thinking you should be a Life Coach and specialize in one niche, I’m telling you the key to success is to have the big 4 toolboxeslife coaching, executive, business and enneagram coaching.

You need at least 30-50 flexible coaching processes to help you customize coaching solutions for the client sitting in front of you – no matter what market or niche.

I can almost hear you argue, “But Colleen, everyone is still saying how important finding a niche is?”

The only time it’s important to pick a niche is for digital marketing – your websites and social media need a niche focus to work.

But in the real world of having conversations with potential clients, you want to stay unlimited. Does that make sense?

Your online digital marketing needs to be a shop window for your most lucrative, attractive coaching offers.

A retail store doesn’t put every product type in its shop window. Your digital marketing needs to niche in this way because it’s important for search engine optimization and hashtag strategies.

Many new coaches make the mistake of thinking they should stick to their shop window niche when having conversations with potential clients.

90% of our top graduate coaches have successfully won six-figure, one- and two-year coaching contracts without any digital marketing. Amazing right?

No websites, advertising or social media content strategies.

So what do our top Master Coaches do instead to find clients?

They show up as human beings talking to other human beings, finding out what their potential clients are struggling with, where they’re suffering and stressed because that’s where they can serve at the highest.

Then they look at their big four toolboxes, which becomes critical to find a custom mix of tools and processors; they co-create a coaching solution with their clients’ input and feedback.

This way, two things are almost guaranteed to happen.

  1. When the coach presents the solution, the client is delighted and says, “yes.”
  2. When they deliver this coaching solution, it meets the client’s exact needs because it was customized bespoke for them, often resulting in rave reviews and referrals.

That’s what’s been happening for our top master coaches, even in today’s economic downturn.

What does this mean for you?

It means that during phase three, I strongly recommend you build all 4 of the big 4 in-demand coaching toolboxes, becoming proficient in life coaching, enneagram coaching, executive coaching and business coaching with 30-50 flexible ready-to-use processes.

Then have conversations with prospective clients showing up as human, not hard-selling, listening for their specific areas of stress, suffering and struggle, focusing on serving them at the highest.

With that insight, custom build a coaching program exactly for your prospective client.

It turns out this is far easier than trying to rely on massive digital marketing strategies that don’t often work.



If you’re inspired to build a big four coaching toolbox to offer custom coaching and never run out of client markets, never be bored and serve your clients at the highest, you can tick off the phase three checkbox


“I have an evergreen businessattracting ideal clients to me and generating healthy cash flow.”

Some of our most successful master coaches are too busy to get to this phase.

So phase 5 is for coaches who want to ultimately build a coaching business that works for them so they can go on holiday and still earn an income.

Successful coaches with steady clients hit a “time-selling barrier.”

They’re selling time and need to find new clients for future months. They cannot take a break because stopping coaching means they stop earning.

To secure your Evergreen Coaching Business you need to start thinking like a coaching business owner instead of a self-employed coach.

Break the cycle of selling hours and create true abundance.

You can do this while still serving your clients at the highest.

At this stage, I encourage my master coaches to enter into what I call ABB apple tree business building. A mindset shift needs to happen here because many coaches aren’t entrepreneurs.

I’d like to show you that it’s possible to build an abundant conscious business without compromising ethics and integrity. You don’t need to sound like an infomercial, be greedy or materialistic to attract your ideal clients and create an abundant cash flow.


COLLEEN-JOY QUOTE un-niche yourself

Go beyond ‘to-do-list’ coaching.

Join Colleen-Joy’s Master Coach Monday Masterclasses.