Life & Business Coaching is not always about Coaching

There is no explicit regulation in Australia that requires professional qualifications for anyone to practise as life or business coaches. There are, however, some industry norms and best practises that many coaches follow.

Technically, you can become a life or business coach in many jurisdictions, including Australia (as of 2022), without a diploma or membership in a professional body. Because the coaching industry is generally unregulated, there is no legal barrier to admission.

One trend I’ve noticed on social media is the popularity of personal coaches. Every third or fourth post on my Instagram feed appears to feature a quote from a “guru” promoting the ideal existence. Because of the low entry barriers, more people are declaring themselves instructors, which poses a number of issues.

To be clear, I enjoy coaching. I’ve had coaches (business, life, and others) over the years as an entrepreneur, and they’ve had a positive and significant impact on my life.

Many of the most successful people in business, sports, and life have had coaches. A qualified coach can considerably progress your life or work, and the growing impetus for wellbeing is fantastic.


Reading the book Secret or seeing a Tony Robins or Dr. Brene Brown TED talk will not provide you with the knowledge or capacity to help others through the big breakthroughs, healings, or lifestyle changes that they must make, either individually or professionally.

We all want the best for ourselves, our families, and our jobs, and to be honest, we want it all now. But I understand because we are all just humans.

But how much can you actually rely on social media life coaches?

Life Coaching is not always about coaching.

This is one example of the potential scope and financial impact of the “life coach” fraud.

We’ll all agree that it’s always about the money in the end.

Lighthouse International Group, founded by businessman Paul Waugh, has gathered hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from its clients through allegedly unethical and dishonest practises.

Paul Waugh, a South African native, claims to have become a multimillionaire by the age of 35 and to have invented a revolutionary method of assisting people in “fixing their spiritual wellbeing.”

There are four levels of spiritual development.

Working through the four “levels of spiritual development” is required for Lighthouse membership.

Only Waugh, the creator, has reached level four; everyone else is still in a “chaotic childlike state” at level one.

It was claimed that the negative influences in their lives, most often their closest relationships, were their greatest impediment to advancement.

Lighthouse makes a concentrated attempt to isolate coachees from their family members, who are subsequently convinced to donate increasing quantities of money to the organisation.

It is stated that new recruits are encouraged to reveal their “innermost secrets” with their mentors during sessions that the group leaders record and save. New recruits are typically vulnerable as a result of divorce, depression, or previous abuse.

These members are then allegedly “pressured” into “investing” tens of thousands of pounds, usually by taking out loans that put them in debt, without any official financial agreement or receipt.

What happens when you hire a life coach to manage your life?
The story starts with Jeff, who was ambitious but aimless when he met a Lighthouse employee at a self-improvement webinar and was offered personal coaching.

He informed Jeff that he was personable, eager to learn, and dedicated, and that under his supervision, Jeff had improved his speaking and writing skills.

Enrolling in the £10,000 “Discipline programme” to receive a year of more intensive supervision makes sense. And to “invest” another £25,000 to become an associate member and become closer to the famed movement’s creator, Paul Waugh.

When Jeff’s girlfriend became aware of how many hours he was spending on the phone with his mentor and how reliant he was on that mentor’s approval in all circumstances, including their relationship, she reported the issue to the authorities.

Another former Lighthouse member was taking medication for a long-standing anxiety issue when he met the man who would become his mentor at a networking event.

He claims, “I felt seen and heard.” Most components of his story are similar to Jeff’s, including the money, the increasingly long phone talks with Lighthouse, and his reliance on it. Despite the fact that the organisation looked to be attempting to keep Jeff away from his fiancée, it was successful in keeping Anthony away from his medication.

Lighthouse meticulously chronicled everything, including each mentee’s private confessions and secrets. One of the group members’ responsibilities was transcription of the daily call recordings, as well as proofreading and editing.

According to Waugh, they have nothing to hide. However, because members are aware that their every confession is recorded if they leave, it works to keep them occupied and further entangled in Waugh’s web.

One young lady had been subjected to child sex abuse. When she tried to escape Lighthouse, she overheard Waugh’s voice telling her that everything had been filmed and her diaries had been saved. “You’re so fucked up,” he growls. “Broken”. You come from a long line of liars, snakes, and jerks. You’re a cynical little old witch. She began to believe he was correct, adding to the horrible psychological anguish she had already suffered.

As a result, millions of dollars continued to stream into the Lighthouse account, half of which went to Waugh, who was living in a mansion while his employees were forced to live in shared accommodation.

Different flaws appear to have been exploited in different ways: Jeff received acclaim and blandishments, whilst Anthony was promised self-actualization, support, and a little more avuncularity in exchange for giving refuge for young females. Then, after sufficiently weakened, outright bullying, depleting their financial resources while isolating and monopolising their time and energy.

The truth is slowly revealing
According to the Daily Mail, Lighthouse made £2.4 million (more than R50 million) from its mentoring programmes after things got going and information began to trickle out. Waugh was said to have collected more than half of Lighthouse International Group’s profits.

Waugh referred to the charges made by several media outlets and individuals as “malicious smears.” He goes on to state that Lighthouse members’ claims that they were forced to invest tens of thousands of pounds in the organisation were false.

Jo Holmes, a primary school teacher, claims that when she asked for a receipt for her £19 000 “investment” and documentation of its use, Waugh responded by labelling her a “psychopath” and “malevolent,” implying that her actions made her a threat to the students she taught.

She later tried to warn others by posting her concerns about Lighthouse on the internet, but the group protested to her school’s principal and threatened legal action.

Waugh, on the other hand, has denied all allegations.

And different weaknesses were exploited in diverse ways this time around.

It is critical that you practise due diligence, completely analyse all available information, and always exercise great caution when seeking information on social media or, more importantly, when choosing to pay for or spend your money.

This post was written by Mario Bekes