What features do you want to see in a site for "Personal Growth" ?

SeinQuest.com is supposed to be all about your personal growth and self-realization. And I would like to ask you, the user: What features would you like to see on such a site? Specifically, what would help you in your own Quest to grow as a person?

At this moment, the user area of SeinQuest.com is still very basic, but once the book is published and I again have more time, I want to expand on this. Right now, you can log in, comment on blogs, create forum topics, and invite friends and advisers. So it is a very basic "social network." But there already are several other social networks (facebook, twitter, linkedin, myspace), so how can this one stand out? How would you like to be engaged in the site? And what content would you like to see?

Here is my take on this: The backbone of SeinQuest will be the material in my book, which is, so I was told by some experts, quite substantial. But there are many other books on personal growth ("self-help books"), and most of them ultimately fail. OK, many of these books are not worth the paper they are printed on, but let's assume such a book is actually quite good--why then does it fail to make an impact in somebody's life?

I think the reason why so many books on personal growth fail is because the user is left to his or her own devices. This is why they are called "self-help" and self-help only works for the most dedicated of people. Most people simply need more help--a helping community of friends, or even better, mentors and advisers. And that's really what I think has to happen with seinquest as well: there have to be user features that let's you access such a dedicated helper community. Do you agree with this?

So one of the things I plan to do, again after I have more time after the book is completely out, is to make all the exercises from the book available online (there are more than 100), and then let the user invite special friends AS ADVISERS which can then comment and help. (The site already lets you set advisers, but I still need to put the exercises online).

I think that would be a good start, but there is probably a ton of stuff I have not thought of here. And that is where I'd like to hear your input:

What do you think should be some features that would help a person on their own personal journey, to help them find and be themselves?
How would you like to engage with your support community?
What features of, say, facebook or other sites do you really like, and do you think would be helpful in the context of personal growth?

Your comments are appreciated.

Be True!

Hanns-Oskar Porr
Author of "The Steps of Essence: How to Live Life Well and Authentically."

Hanns-Oskar Porr's picture

I am having a discussion on this topic on linkedin in the psychology group, and am getting some good feedback.

One therapist pointed out that it is indeed possible for "groups of graduates" to run successful self-help support groups if there are certain rules in place, which move the discussion along and keep it clean.

So I am wondering how you could translate this into a social network for the "normal person"? If you could develop a social network from scratch for the purpose of self-help, what features would you need?

Let's review some of the features we often see in social networks, and look at what may work:
a) invite your friends, often hundreds...
b) form groups (such as this psychology group right here)
c) some kind of "what are you doing?", like the facebook wall, or twitter.
d) being able to comment
e) other?

I think that out of the box, FEW of these translate well into the self-help context. Not all friends make good advisers--you want quality of advise, not quantity. The "status updates" are often meaningless--do we really want to know what such-and-such is having to dinner? And the typical online groups are too impersonal--you don't know everybody in that group for a personal discussion to take place. However, the commenting aspect is very valuable if done correctly.

But maybe a special kind of group may be possible. Here are some possible criteria:

1) people must know and trust each other. I think trust is very important.
2) The group is somehow "primed." You called this "graduates of some seminar." This would allow for a direction of discussion. Normal online groups are also already primed by topic.
3) some kind of guidelines, maybe self-enforced. To be successful, the discussion must never become degrading of oneself and others.
4) Other criteria that you see?

To address #1, would it be helpful if every person could set up his/her own PRIVATE group, into which he/she invites only certain friends (out of all their friends) which would make good advisers? That would ensure the trust. However, not all members may be "primed" along the same way.

The optimal solution would be if the group is somehow moderated by a trusted individual who knows the rules and the overall direction, like the skilled discussion leader in a (physical) self-help group. But I am not sure if this could be scaled up correctly to a social network. However, good online forums also have moderators. Maybe that would be a solution for the groups as well, but it would take time to organically develop such trusted moderators.

What do you all think? Any further ideas?

Author: "The Steps of Essence: How to Live Life Well and Authentically."