We talk alot about content vs process.  Indeed, it’s in process that real, deep, lasting, sustainable growth, development, and change occurs.  But what does that even mean?  What’s the difference between content and process?  Let’s break it down.

Content is the story.  The details of what happened, who said what, who did what – basically what happened.

Process is your experience.  What you felt inside;  what it was like for you.  Process gets at what it’s like to think about and talk about the experience now.  What’s coming up for you in this moment?

Do you notice the difference?  It can seem subtle, but it’s actually significant.  Focusing on content is often a distraction from doing any meaningful work.  Often we can think or talk about an experience by recounting what happened, but that’s happening primarily on the intellectual dimension – and you’ll remember that our Truth – our lived experience in the world – is held on four dimensions: intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Deepening our relationship with ourselves – and then with others – requires that we access the full truth of our experience.  This is where process comes in.

As an example:
A lot of clients will talk about their boss in coaching sessions.  They might say something like, “I don’t know about my boss, I don’t hear from her very often and when I do it’s usually just to tell me I did something wrong.”

That’s all content, it gives us a bit of insight into what the person’s boss may or may not do, but it doesn’t access the individual’s Truth.  So we might ask a process question:  “What’s that like for you?”

And they might say, “It’s fine, I don’t know.”

That’s right, it might take a few attempts to move someone into process.  So let’s stick with it and ask another process-oriented question: “What do you notice in yourself when you don’t hear from your boss?”

Client:  “Well, I definitely get a little frustrated…. I wonder if I start to doubt myself more, and feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or if I’m doing it good enough.”

Continuing to facilitate process, we can ask: “What do you notice or experience in those moments?”

A response might be:  “More anxious, probably shorter with colleagues – insecure.”

See the difference?  When we get to process, we make progress:  we can get to the core of our experiences – our Truth.  And it’s only in accessing, knowing, and accepting our full Truth that we can deepen our relationship with ourselves, and find more and more moments of groundedness, in which we can live with intention and bring our best self.

Content is often a nice starting point, and we encourage you to work to move to process as quickly as you can.  The simplest way is to just ask yourself: What’s this like for me?  What do I notice physically, emotionally, and spiritually?  Think about and notice those dimensions, and you’re doing process.