Core Process

Another one from some years ago, when I was a member of the now-defunct business networking site, ecademy. Only two comments in this preface: First, I’m surprised that the links still work – after a fashion, at least. The new owner had his developers hack the guts out of ecademy and so top-posts are mangled beyond legibility, and much of the following discussions – where the real value lay – has been lost. Second, the phrase we came up with still resonates with me. At the time, I didn’t really expect it to stay with me as long as it has.

Anyone who has been around ecademy for a while might recall a blog I wrote a few years ago on a fictitious self improvement program named CPR. This was a light-hearted poke at a something which seemed to be quite in vogue at the time: Core Process. The blog enjoyed a brief flurry of activity and I hope the participants had fun but after a fairly short time it disappeared from the front page and was forgotten. Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I received a telephone call from Nick Heap. Nick explained that part of his business offering is Core Process and he also runs a Core Process group on Linked In. He told me that someone had recently posted a link to my CPR blog, and that was the reason for his call. My first thought was that I was going to get a telling off but instead, Nick asked me if I would like to try Core Process for myself. It would take a couple of hours at the most, and I might find it useful. If nothing else, at least I’d then know a bit more about what it was. He also said it would be OK for me to post my thoughts about it in a blog.

Although I’m quite sceptical about such things, honest scepticism requires that from time to time, if not all of the time, we re-examine our attitudes and beliefs, so I accepted Nick’s offer and we arranged a call on Skype a few days later.

The conversation followed a set format, which Nick outlined at the beginning of the call. Without going into too much detail, Nick first gave a brief history of what Core Process is and how it came to be invented, after which I was asked to come up with three or four stories about events during my life when I had felt particularly “good”. I found this difficult, but managed to dredge up three stories and we were going to move on to the next stage when another story came into my head and I asked to tell it. During the course of each story, Nick captured the essence of it by jotting down a handful of key words.

Next Nick asked me to choose one story to focus upon and to extract from it three verbs and three nouns which describe the main themes running through that story. From these we then settled on two words – again a verb and a noun – which was intended to encapsulate the theme that ran through the chosen story. Coming up with the noun was easy; almost obvious. But it took several minutes to settle on the verb, but when I did it was a real “Aha!” moment. Surprisingly to me, neither of the words was in the original list.

Once the two-word phrase had been selected, we tested it by examining the other stories: was it a good fit? It turned out it was for three of them and could be “made to fit” in the remaining story, although it wasn’t perfect. However, that story had been told in desperation while I was anxiously racking my brains for stories where I had “felt good” and so I wasn’t too concerned about that.

There was a final check which I won’t spoil for anyone who might decide to explore their own Core Process, but I have to say it was the only point where my sceptical gland came into play during the entire conversation.

Overall, I was left with a good impression of the process and of Nick. He has a very good voice on the telephone and although I was a little nervous at the start of the call his relaxed manner and reassuring tone put me at my ease almost immediately. My moments of brief panic when I got “stuck” at various stages were calmed by Nick’s reassurances that this was a normal reaction and to just relax; the story will come.

At the time I felt elated and I almost wanted to write this blog straight away, however I’ve been on too many “personal skills” courses when in corporate life to not recognise that the novelty might wear off and I might feel very differently about it after a few days. It’s been a little over a week now, and indeed that initial elation has faded somewhat but I’m still more than happy with the result.

Will determining my “Core Process” change my life in any significant way? Probably not. I don’t think I subscribe to the central idea of Core Process: that there is a single theme running through each of our lives which Core Process can expose. On the other hand I am confident that it captures an important part of my personality, quite probably the most important and almost certainly that which informs much of what I do and how I think and behave. I think what I am saying is that I am no longer sceptical about Core Process: I don’t buy the whole package but I think it will be useful to me.

I’m not going to tell you what we came up with, mainly because it has real meaning only to me: as a phrase taken on its own it is open to various interpretations, none of which would match mine.

I expect this post will make some people laugh: that’s fine – laughter is good, and I used to laugh too so in that sense I deserve it. I hope I’ve done justice to the process in my description and I’m sure I must have forgotten some significant detail but my excuse is that I was concentrating too hard on the various activities to take very much notice of how the process actually worked.

If this blog has made you curious about Core Process, please get in touch with Nick who can tell you more about it. The challenge I have now is to work out how to condense this post into a testimonial.

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