How to do Core Process

How to do Core Process

What is your Core Process?

We’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve performed at our peak, when we’ve felt fully alive, when we’ve been living in the moment, so absorbed by what we’ve been doing that nothing else has mattered.

Each of us has a unique talent we were born with. When we become aware of what it is and use it daily, we feel inspired, and we encourage others. We make a valuable contribution to the world and lead more fulfilling lives.

This is one secret of happiness, and it is possible for everyone. It is not the preserve of the few. You can realise your potential by discovering what it is you do magnificently, what it is you were born to do and what no one else can do quite like you.

Core Process is a journey of self-discovery that results in a pair of words that capture the essence of who you are, that is, you at your best.

Your challenge

Doing a core process well will require you to

Listen attentively and carefully.

Assume that the person you are working with (the “client”) is unique, capable and very interesting.

Have and show empathy,

Be patient. Trust yourself and your client that you will get there.

Guide the process with a very light touch.

Keep your attention on the client and the work you are doing. Avoid thinking about anything the work stirs up in you. Do this after the session.

Accept that clients may cry as they describe important things.

Structure of a session and guidance notes


The client needs to feel safe and relaxed, so

The place should be quiet and comfortable.

Turn off phones, etc.

Don’t sit behind a desk.

Offer a cup of tea, etc.

Confirm that what the client shares will remain confidential

Ask the client to be assertive if they need a break or something different from you. You might be going too fast or too slow, for example.

(You can also use this tool successfully virtually.)


Many people find a reminder about the history of the core process helpful. Ask if your client would like this.

Chris Bull, Robin Coates and Calvin Germain invented Core Process around 1970. They thought that a person could have a core mission just like a business and tested a method “core process” to get there.

Chris Bull ran some courses using core process in ICI. They had a huge impact. One-eighth of the people left the company within six months to do their own thing. Those who remained had fewer difficulties than before the course and got out of them faster.

Use this if you wish. Nick Heap learned the core process from Chris Bull in 1972. He used it occasionally as a developmental tool until 2005. In 2005, Tom Evans encouraged him to offer it within Ecademy, an early business networking group.

Then, explain what a core process is.

Core Process is a pair of words that capture you at your best. It is your unique talent and purpose. They are all lovely. Here are a few examples from real people: “Growing Life”, “Risking Love,” and “Touching Souls”. You could mention yours here. It will show you value it.

Check if the client is comfortable with a spiritual perspective. If so, continue as follows.

When we became incarnate, we had a job to do. When we go through life and do our job, it goes wonderfully well. It is productive and enjoyable. Our core process is our job.

Explain how we do a core process.

First, you tell a story or stories where everything was going wonderfully well.

Then you pick one story to work on some more and list some words

Then, you distil the words down to a verb and a noun that you are excited about because they capture your unique talent and purpose.

Then we check the phrase is your core process.

Finally, we talk about what you can do with what you have discovered.

Eliciting stories

Ask the client to tell one or more when they have felt thoroughly alive and fulfilled. They can be about moments or periods. They can be at any time or aspect of life. Then, life was beautiful. They can be energetic or peaceful.

Listen attentively to the stories. Be encouraging, say, “gosh, that’s amazing” etc. Don’t interrupt the flow or add your own similar experiences.

Ask the client for a few words about how they felt during and at the end of their tale.

I usually make very brief notes to remind us of the stories later. You may not need to do this.

Choosing a story

Ask the client to choose a story to work on some more. The best criterion is simply that the client would enjoy thinking about this story. Reassure the client that any story will work as the core process is in all the stories.

Sometimes, clients want to choose a “work” story because they think it will get them to a helpful strapline. This is mistaken thinking. Core Process is about your identity, not a strapline.

The easiest stories to work with are vivid and with an emotional charge. Nonetheless, it is up to the client to choose, not us.

Listing verbs and nouns

Ask the client to say what they were doing in their chosen story. Explain that you want words ending “–ing” and give one example you noticed from the story they told.

Be patient and encouraging, and write down the verbs the client lists. Don’t edit or group them.

Sometimes, clients will retell their story or and include nouns at this stage. Write down the verbs and nouns that you hear.

If necessary, suggest a few you noticed that the client has not mentioned. This may be because the client is being over-modest.

Between 10 and 15 verbs will be enough.

Then, ask the client to list the “nouns” they associate with their experience. If you already have some listed, share them and invite some more.

Explain that nouns can be concrete, like “people”, or abstract, like “hope and that both are useful and OK.

Again, be patient and encouraging and add a few you have noticed, if necessary.

Nouns are sometimes more difficult for people to find. Between 10 and 15 nouns are OK.

Refining the list

I usually sit next to the client during this stage. The non-verbal support seems to help.

Explain that the client’s core process is under the words, and we need to work with a more manageable number.

Ask clients to choose three or a maximum of four words from the “verbs” list. The criterion is simply that “they like the sound of the word”. List them as in the diagram below.

Circles for article

Explain that more than three words will make their work more difficult.

Discourage people from trying to manage the process towards a strapline. One of the exciting things about core process work is that neither helper nor client knows precisely where it is going!”

Repeat for the nouns.

Finding the core process

This is the most demanding part of the work for clients and helpers alike. There is no set formula. It is a journey where the client digs deeply into her or himself to discover a profound truth. The helper’s job is to provide support, encouragement, time and some tools to help on the way. The client does the bulk of the work.

What follows has worked for me.

Explain that the core process, a verb and a noun, is under, or pointed to, by the selected words.

Explain that it can be challenging to find the correct words because this is a) intellectually and linguistically demanding and b) the core process is always very positive and will contradict all the criticisms and put-downs we have experienced which say we are not significant and won’t come to anything or are conceited.

Reassure the client that despite this, we will get there.

Ask the client to think of a word that captures, for them, the essence of the verbs above. It might be one of them, or it might be a word on a higher or more profound level. Give an example building from the client’s words. “Leading”, “Creating”, or “Inspiring” fit quite often. Offer one, but don’t sell it.

Be patient and interested, and let clients find their word. Notice their tone of voice and gestures. Do they sound excited?

If you think they may be close, ask them, “How excited are you that “X” is what you are here to do?” “Give me a score out of 10. “10” is “wow”, and “1” is “boring”.

If they give a score of eight or more, write it down in inverted commas and say we will come back to this when we have looked at the nouns.

If the score is less than this (say 6 or 7), ask them what they need to add or change to make it move up the scale.

Now, move on to the nouns. This can be more difficult than the verbs. I am not sure why. Ask the client to think of a word that captures, for them, the essence of the nouns. It might be one of them, or it might be a word on a higher or more profound level.

Be patient and interested, and let clients find their word. Notice their tone of voice and gestures. Do they sound excited?

If you think they may be close, ask them, “How excited are you that “X” is what you are here to do?” “Give me a score out of 10. “10” is “wow”, and “1” is “boring”.

If the score is less than this (say 6 or 7), ask them what they need to add or change to make it move up the scale.

When the score is eight or more, combine it with the verb to create a provisional core process.

Ask the client how excited they are, on a score out of 10, that this phrase captures their unique talent and reason for being on the planet! If you get eight or more and the client talks enthusiastically and energetically about it, you can move on to the checking phase. I also like to check that the phrase makes sense. Sometimes, a minor tweak can help.

If the score is less than eight or the client sounds flat, then keep listening, encouraging and asking gentle questions while the client works to make it better.

Sometimes, a little break can help, as the process can be exhausting.

Paradoxically, if you sense things are a bit stuck, tell your client they are doing well. This will nearly always move the block!

Checking the core process

Remind the client that core processes are two-way. They are the way we give and receive energy. If you give out all the time, your battery goes flat.

Ask the client to reflect on the story or stories they shared earlier. To what extent were they living their core process during those stories? There should be a good, if not perfect, fit to all the stories.

Ask the client to sit quietly and contemplate the possibility that the reason they are on the planet is to do or be their core process. Ask, “What do you feel and show me where do you feel it?” I usually remind people that you feel feelings in your body, and they are things like excitement or sadness, not thoughts.

People often, but not always, report they feel excited, and they feel something physically in the solar plexus, just under their sternum.

Congratulate your client, have a little break and move on to the last part.

Applying the core process

Talk about how you can use the core process to think about a change of career or life direction. If you want to enjoy what you do, it must allow you to use your core process.

You can also use your core process to get out of a hole. Actively, “In this situation, if I was using my core process, what would I do?” To recover, “How can I use my core process to give me more energy and options?”

Core process work can make you over-confident. You are the same person as before the work and people know you like that. Integrate and use any new insights slowly and carefully.

Our biggest temptations are a corruption of our core process. This is partly because our core process is natural, and we can’t understand why anyone else would find what we do effortlessly difficult. It’s easy to forget this and turn people off by being over-enthusiastic. For example, I can easily be very intense, push ideas too hard or ignore that people need a break sometimes. This does not “create awareness” (my core process)!

Finally, one practitioner has found it very helpful to share these instructions with his client. I haven’t done this and am looking forward to trying it.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick