top of page

How Do You Know If Someone Is Qualified To Be A Mentor & Coach? — Lighthouse International Group

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

With lots of people walking around calling themselves a mentor or coach, how do you know if you can trust that person to provide the guidance you need to make the breakthroughs you are looking for?

In the trolling of Lighthouse International Group, now known as Lighthouse Global, the question of qualifications to do this work has been raised. As a qualified life coach who invested thousands of pounds in a coaching diploma and with thousands of hours of both mentoring and being mentored, it's a subject I am passionate to share more on from a personal and professional perspective. The personal development industry has a questionable reputation at best and so I wanted to help anyone looking to invest in their self-development through a mentor or coach.

My Decision To Become a Life Coach

On Monday 1st September 2008 I made the decision that I wanted to train to become a life coach. In my journal I wrote, “The Coaching Academy made their diploma irresistible… called at 7:58am to register for my second most expensive purchase in my life.” After an introductory weekend with an established, respected and accredited training provider I very happily invested my £4,000 in a course.

Why was this? The coaching I had received at a time of a personal identity crisis where I was asking myself “is this all there is to life?” had made a massive difference and I wanted to help others in the way I’d been helped. This was an investment into my hopes and my dreams to start a business and make a difference… I was excited to say the least!!

Having A Coaching Qualification, But No Foundation To Live It

Two years later I was a qualified life coach with one of the largest and most established coach training providers in the world; accredited by all major industry professional bodies. The bitter pill I needed to swallow is that despite spending the thousands of pounds paid for a course combined with the hours of training and the subsequent qualification gained, I did not feel I was equipped to actually mentor or coach others. Why is that? Whilst I received incredibly valuable tools and techniques that could be applied to others, there was no focus on the actual transformation of myself as an individual. What coaching courses do is help students give life advice through questioning as coaches when they themselves have not had the fundamental foundation of a solid upbringing. The same relates to our education system; we become book clever, but without wisdom to apply, we are life stupid!

What this means is that we try to learn techniques on the surface without the foundation required to bring human substance to these techniques. It’s like focusing on painting and wallpapering the walls of a house when the foundations are shaky and rotting! The reality is that most people training to be a coach want a quick fix… get the certificate so they can go out there to help others when they still have major gaps in their own development. That was me too!

The Highly Ineffective $40 Billion Self-Help Industry

Around $40 billion is spent globally on the personal development industry through books and courses, but people don’t use this anywhere close to where they ought to. The amount spent on self-improvement has increased exponentially over the last 70 years and yet we actually see proportionally more people suffering from issues like depression, obesity, relationship breakdown, career dissatisfaction and business failure. If the personal development industry worked, then we’d see a far greater number of happier, healthier, wealthier and more benevolent individuals as a result.

A study by Ad Bergsma basically questioned whether self-help books work and found in some cases they can cause more harm than good. It’s no wonder the industry has a terrible reputation; big promises and lots of hype fuelled by the feel-good factor, but with no sustained improvement, let alone radical transformation for those who invest in their growth and development.

In an information age, ignorance is no longer an excuse… we can access all forms of wisdom-based knowledge and information at a touch of a button. So there must be some other explanation as to why people aren’t making the desired breakthroughs in all aspects of their lives and careers/businesses?

Our Pioneering Work At Lighthouse International Group

So at Lighthouse Global we’ve invested the last 18 years looking to understand why conscientious people can’t apply what they learn in order to overcome the obstacles to creating optimal value in order to always have the resources to say ‘yes’ to helping anyone in need inside and outside of their own homes. We’ve found that my experience of training to be a coach is not unique; many trainee life coaches struggle to forge a career in this field to help others. 95% of businesses fail in the first 5 years and coaches are not exempt from this statistic despite what they’ve learnt on their courses.

To get to the root of these issues we have stayed as a pioneering research organisation and only now in our 18th year expanding globally after recognising the foundation that’s actually required for people to optimise their lives, their careers and their businesses. Why? Because we wanted to make sure that any mentors and coaches as well as their clients at Lighthouse were actually walking their talk rather than spouting out impressive information that they weren’t applying to themselves and their lives.

In the early days of my own mentorship, my mentor Chris Nash, would often talk about the hypocrisy of offering high-level advice from a low emotional base. What this essentially means is that there are a lot of people trying to fix others, but not willing to look at themselves first. This relates to character and is not something assessed in courses… our true character is revealed when we don’t think we are being watched; not in an essay, exam or assessment. Think about it… if everyone was as good as they said they were in an interview or on their CV, would we really have the same levels of career dissatisfaction or business failure that we do?

A Mentor or Coach Needs To Have a Genuine Motive To Help Others

A certificate or a qualification doesn’t necessarily prove that someone is genuinely willing and capable of helping others. In fact, in some cases having a qualification actually enables someone to use their credentials to cause immense harm. Harold Shipman was one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history and used his position as a qualified doctor to murder around 250 people over a number of years.

In the personal development arena, many people become mentors, coaches and counsellors for narcissistic (self-obsessive) reasons; they gain a sense of significance from helping others. Both from being in coaching circles and having worked in the charity sector for a number of years I’ve seen this both in myself and many others! Many people we’ve worked with and spoken to over the years have talked about counsellors and therapists who have been cold and clinical rather than warm and empathic.

There are professionals in this sector who will boast about their qualifications or hide behind institutions. This is understandable given our research discovering how people are increasingly infantilised through institutionalisation. For example, millennials have been identified as the most infantilised generation to date. The consequence is that people have an incredibly limited understanding of themselves and their potential.

A Mentor & Coach At Lighthouse Global Is Dedicated To Absolute Truth…. Starting With Themselves!

The well-respected psychiatrist and best-selling author M. Scott Peck wrote in the Road Less Travelled about how any individual seeking to help others needs to be dedicated to truth.

“What does a life of total dedication to the truth mean? It means, first of all, a life of continuous and neverending stringent self-examination. We know the world only through our relationship to it. Therefore, to know the world, we must not only examine it but we must simultaneously examine the examiner. Psychiatrists are taught this in their training and know that it is impossible to realistically understand the conflicts and transferences of their patients without understanding their own transferences and conflicts. For this reason psychiatrists are encouraged to receive their own psychotherapy or psychoanalysis as part of their training and development. Unfortunately, not all psychiatrists respond to this encouragement. There are many, psychiatrists among them, who stringently examine the world but not so stringently examine themselves. They may be competent individuals as the world judges competence, but they are never wise. The life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action.” M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled

How this applies to any professional mentor or coach is that they themselves ought to be mentored and coached on an ongoing basis in order to be credible; to have integrity, humility and to be able to empathise with the person they are helping.

Anyone who’s a mentor and coach at Lighthouse Global is committed to absolute truth in order to increase their ability to take responsibility in all areas of their lives… to work on their character as well as their competence. This means extensive self-examination and self-scrutiny; always questioning how we see ourselves, others and ourselves in relation to others. Absolute truth means looking at a situation from multiple perspectives; psychological, historical, business, philosophical, religious and any other relevant perspectives in order to be as objective as possible. If we don’t do this then it’s all about subjective opinions based on our personal experience which inevitably leads to bias and prejudice through thinking that the way we see things is the way they are.

To serve others in the best way possible, we recognise the need to build a foundation in ourselves upon which we can create our lives and careers/businesses whilst also helping others to do the same. We all benefit from being personally mentored and coached because we understand we always have the potential to improve as human beings; to be more loving, caring, principle-centred, benevolent, disciplined, creative leaders, entrepreneurs, family members and human beings.

I will be writing more about what I and we have learnt about human potential and how that relates to being a mentor and coach at Lighthouse Global in subsequent posts.

Follow us on social media to learn more about what we’ve discovered through our pioneering research into human potential.

158 views10 comments


Sukh Singh
Sukh Singh
Feb 17, 2022

James, thank you for laying out the facts here powerfully. A qualification with no foundation. More and more I am realising that the entire personal development industry ITSELF lacks foundation. It is a collective pied piper luring well-intentioned, naive, uneducated people to a promised land that does not exist, by reading a book or getting a qualification, it never works by itself. Statistically only about 10% of people ever read and finish a book, let alone transform into a healthy growing adult. People ought to be warned about this. The reality is, without a true immersion in community and a real earnest desire to make painful, sometimes excruciating changes, "self-help" becomes a lie. Thank you for explaining all of this…


Feb 17, 2022

I agree the personal development industry needs a shake up! Far too open to nefarious intentions at the moment. I feel the standard of 'you must be mentored in order to mentor' is foundational in changing the way the industry works. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences!


Feb 02, 2022

Such a crucial question James. Anyone can pay for a course and call themselves a life coach, but how prepared are you to work with people helping them in areas of their lives that are deeply sensitive and personal? Surely it starts by investing in myself, understanding where I need to grow and then do the work myself so that I can help others do the same. Becoming a mentor is not about me and what I want but about how I can help serve others.


Hi James,thank you for writing this! In my heart and experience what i really value and feel so comfortable with is the truth.How you say it rather than what you say-it can be the hold on tight -or run like mad from your mentor (Flashie)

Also having a mentor that's had many changing,challenging life experiences from the bottom to the top! The first few connections for me were definitely-can i trust you-do i like you-how calm patient and gentle are you even at my worst! Having qualifications shows your abilities not your depth or emotional understanding.Showing your vulnerability at the worst time in your life is absolute strength.It makes us love more.


Diane Cubitt
Diane Cubitt
Dec 21, 2021

James, thank you for writing this blog, as you have said there are so many so called life coaches out there, they have the qualifications, but do they have the heart? There is more to being a life coach then just teaching people the fundamental tools, along with coaching comes mentoring and counselling, all three need to be there. This is what I have experienced through my time at Lighthouse.


Subscribe to our Newsletter - Don't miss out on new articles!

Thanks for subscribing to our Lighthouse Community Newsletter!

bottom of page