Nick Heap on Core Process

To start off the New Year, I am happy to feature UK-based coach and facilitator Nick Heap, one of the leading proponents of a personal growth methodology called Core Process, a powerful way to discover your unique talents and purpose in life.

In this interview, Nick will share insights into Core Process, what it is and how it works.

Q - Welcome, Nick. Please tell us a little about how you came to this coaching work.

Originally, I was trained as a research chemist and worked at ICI, a multinational chemical company based in Britain. ICI was at the cutting edge of organisation and personal development. In 1970, I participated in a T-Group, through work, for a week and it was a life-changing experience. (In a T-Group you “examine your behaviour as it happens.) I learned some things about myself, and that we have all the resources we need to solve our problems, but we need to listen to each other to solve them.

Soon after the T-group, I decided to devote my life to helping people listen to each other. Since ICI was such a good and flexible employer, I didn't want to leave there. I wanted to find a new job at ICI, and to do this I needed to prove to them that I was serious.

While still working full time at ICI, I spent a year as a volunteer with the Samaritans, listening to suicidal people. Then I become a marriage relationship counsellor with what is now “Relate”, also as a volunteer. It was incredible training where I learned a lot about myself and gained some great skills. Then, after 4 years of learning and asking for feedback, I got a job as internal consultant with ICI. For 6 years, I had a free hand to help managers and facilitate teams.

I was made redundant after a major reorganization, and I decided to work for myself as an external consultant, doing one-on-one work listening to senior people and helping them think deeply about anything that bothered them. I also trained people in influencing skills and built teams where people listened to each other. I've been doing this ever since

Q - Speaking of helping people to think more deeply, let's turn to Core Process. In a nutshell, what is Core Process?

Core Process starts from the idea that, when we are made, we have a job to do, a unique and specific job that fits you, that you were designed to do. When you do it, it goes astonishingly well, you are happy and energized, and you feel the most alive.

As I say at my website, your core process shows you what you are here on the planet to do. Core Process is simply a away of describing what your job is, your purpose, your central and unique talent.

You, the reader of this blog are unique, important and amazing. Core Process helps you discover and describe, your unique magnificence in just two words!

Q - Can you give an example, Nick?

Two words describe your core process. Mine is "creating awareness." Yours is "facilitating wisdom." A woman I know has the core process "touching souls." She has the ability to build trust. She was sent into an angry, hurt-filled factory that was due to close. She met each person, shook her or his hand and said, "I know you are upset and frightened about what is happening to the factory. I will make sure you will find a job." The quality of the connection she made in just a few seconds was such they believed her and their feelings changed. By the end of the year, all but two people had found a job. She touched their souls.

Core process gets to the heart of who you are when you are in touch with your essence, your truth. We are all different. We are all unique, our experience is unique, and so it's logical that we have unique skills and talents. When you are using this unique talent, it's fulfilling, it's rewarding, and it has good effects: it's the way to your happiness and it makes the world a better place.

They are also all lovely! (Yours too)

Q - What was the genesis of Core Process?

I wasn't there for the beginning. It was around 1970; Chris Bull, Robin Coates and Calvin Germain were at a pub having a conversation about business. They agreed that every business must have a core mission. If the mission is unclear, or if you set out to do too many things, you won't be successful.

The next question was: Could this apply to a person as well? They decided to find out.

In 1972, at an ICI course, on life planning run by Chris Bull, I learned about core process, and discovered my own, "creating awareness." I trained to facilitate the course. Together with the T-Group, this was a momentous time in my life.

I brought Core Process into my own practice as a tool to help clients think about and plan their future.

Q – How can the Core Process help a person? a team? an organization?

People can use their core process as a guide if they want to make career or life changes. It also a great help to get you out of a hole. We will only be truly happy if we are able to use what we are uniquely good at, and enjoy, a lot of the time. As people spend a great deal of time at work, a great fit between your core process and your work is highly desirable. When Chris did the original work in ICI, one eighth of the trainees changed their jobs or left the company within six months.

You can use the Core Process technology to help a team think about its vision, and how to meet the challenges they face. For example, I worked with one team that decided that their vision for the future was "Everything Running Smoothly." It worked for them.

I would dearly love to have all the members of a team know their individual core processes. When a challenge arrived, they would quickly be able to find the right person to help. The member with a Core Process like “Inspiring People” would be great working with a department with low morale, for instance.

Q - Nick, Can you outline the steps you take someone through to discover their core process?

I'd be happy to. It usually takes an hour and a half per person. It's really quite simple.

First, I ask you to tell 3 or 4 stories when you felt most alive.
Second, I ask you to pick one of the stories to think about some more.
Third, I ask you to choose some words to describe what was happening: -ing words and nouns. For example "breathing" and "life."
Fourth, I ask you to choose the words that you like the most.
Fifth, I help the client to distill the words into a two-word phrase, like “breathing life” that excites the client. As they formulate their phrase, I ask, How excited about this are you? How well does this phrase fit the stories you shared?

One other thing: You can do Core Process remotely as well as face-to-face, even via Skype.

Q - Tell me about the Core Process conference you are planning.

This conference will be a first. It will be held in June and in or near London. I hope to bring together a mix of people. Some who are practitioners, some who will know their core processes and some who are just interested in the idea. I hope to see some from organizations that might be intrigued by core process as a tool for personal development, for team building, or for developing empathy. I want this to be very participative, not a series of speeches by “experts”. I want people to have conversations and share stories of doing Core Process and the value it has had for them. Some colleagues and I have had two detailed discussions and the ideas are coming together well.

Q - Last question, Nick. What's next for you and Core Process?

I honestly don't know for certain. Next is the conference. There is an extension of Core Process called Core Process 2 that goes more deeply into purpose and how to deliver it to the world. I plan do more coaching to help people live their core process.

To learn more about Nick and the work he does, click here .

You are also welcome to contact him directly via his website or by email: nickheap43(at)

Posted by Terrence Seamon on January 15, 2013


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