Ultimately, what I would like to see is a world where people are properly educated and are genuinely excited about and interested in personal growth. This way, we can forge a world that is healthier, more honest, more productive, more devoted to the truth, more innovative, more courageous, and, most of all, more loving.
Building a community
is about more than a club. Imagine a strong, aware, intelligent collection of
humans. Imagine what could be accomplished. All the inspiration. All the
uplifting. All the amazing ideas. All the drive. The work ethic. The positive
intention. The comradery. The love. The pace of change. The challenges, and the
momentum we would have to overcome those challenges. The skill. The commitment to
excellence. The desire to serve. The fun. The laughter. The support. The
immense power. How we’d push one another to grow. How we’d push one another to
recognize and embrace truth.
This is way more than a club.
Imagine there was a group like this in every city—perhaps one that was created and/or led by a strong leader. Maybe it comprises 1% of the city’s population, at best. And maybe there was one in every school, too. How different would the world be? How quickly would positive change be implemented? What sort of amazing things would be created?
The thing is, these aren’t some idealistic groups made of people who have yet to be created. The right people already exist. Sure, they have room to grow—everyone does. One of the purposes of the group is to facilitate and accelerate that growth. And maybe they could do with a bit of educating as to why personal growth matters and why such a group out to exist. But overall, these people already exist. They just haven’t come together—at least, not in this way.
And it excites me to imagine what will happen when they do.
I imagine people with competence and interest across every area of life. Physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual. Art, science, nature, the humanities, business, community, technology.
Usually, we flock to groups where there are people who have the same interests as us. Maybe it’s a running team or a writing club. When our shared interest is to learn, to grow, and to contribute, then our other skills and interests can vary wildly. We can use our different backgrounds to amplify how we learn, grow, and contribute. We can bring our talents together to create something that perhaps we never could have imagined before.
And it is the drive to grow and contribute that makes our connection more meaningful and worthwhile. When everyone on board genuinely has the same goal, and they are driven by purpose, work ethic, and love to achieve that goal, I can’t imagine the results would be anything less than beautiful.
When an immensely powerful group of human-loving, growth-oriented individuals comes together, how likely are they to fail? They would all be committed to holding each other up. Not only that, but they would be committed to the best interests and success of everyone in the larger community (i.e. the whole city or school). Might they create enough empowerment and support that no one in the community fails? Or is that dangerously and excessively idealistic?
Can we realistically make it so that none of our fellow humans have to worry about getting enough to eat, finding a place to sleep, and having access to proper education and healthcare? Could we even provide, to all, education on relatively unconditional ways of living and doing certain things—information we have picked up through being crazy growth-oriented individuals? Information that has enhanced our lives and might do the same for others, if only they knew more about it? Or does reality simply not work that way?
I’m not sure, but I don’t see why we can’t make our best effort to find out.
You see, I know you can’t change everyone. And I’m not trying to. I don’t even want to do that. But when a group or growth-oriented, service-oriented people comes together with the intent of serving their community to the best of their abilities, I can’t imagine that others would not be pulled in by the immense power of the love and positive intent that emanates from this group. It’s one thing to be an individual who embodies all these qualities. But to be part of a group where everyone does to some degree… How could you all go unnoticed? The pull of your collective gravity would simply be too much.
Maybe at first the members of the group would be committed to just helping each other. Perhaps they would just start out by helping each other to grow, such as by talking about their field or expertise or working on people skills together. Then, at some point, they would be naturally inclined to start creating together—that is, to work on projects.
Then, new people would be attracted by the projects they put together—or they would find out about them some other way. And the group would organically grow and grow, until eventually almost everyone in the community is involved somehow. Wouldn’t that be something?
Starting a Group
So, how do you go about starting something like this? Well, you need person to lead the effort. Maybe it’s just one person who wants to talk about personal growth with others. Or maybe it’s someone like myself who has started to create a vision of what they’d ultimately like the group to do, and what they’d like for their community to become.
Whatever the case, that person finds another person who has mutual interest. Maybe they meet at an event like a TEDx talk, or they’re both part of another club, or maybe they’re already friends. Well, or maybe they write about it on the Internet and someone happens to take notice. Or they create a group on Meetup.com.
However it happens, once you have two people working together, you start to look legitimate. You’re not a lone weirdo with a dream anymore. However, two isn’t quite a party just yet—three is. By some force you find a third brave soul who might be interested and trusts you aren’t looking for a threesome, and they say, “Sure,” and now the three of you look slightly more credible.
When it comes to getting the fourth person, you have to make sure that the two newer members don’t appear to be worshipping the creator—otherwise, it looks like you’re starting a cult. Person #4 might feel a little uncomfortable about joining a group so small, but she thinks it might be interesting so she gives it a go.
Now, person 5 is the ringer. Once you’ve got five people, you are a legitimate force for change. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun and get things done with a group of two or even one (yes, lots of rhyming here!), but once you’ve got five, well, things start to jive. Now it’s easier to start attracting people in larger numbers—that is, if you even need to.
Just how big should the group be anyway? As I said earlier, I don’t think the core group needs to consist of more than 1% of the population, with maybe a few people who are new to personal growth tagging along to learn (although, I’m sure they could become a part of the “core” group soon enough). Since one of the goals of this group is to have a pool of diverse talents, I’d imagine that the more, the merrier.
You just have to be careful about not putting quantity over quality—people who don’t really care about the broader purpose of creating an atmosphere of growth and love in the community. Maybe these are people who just came around for some weight loss tips.
How would you deal with such a person? You could tell them what the group is all about and see whether the message resonates with them or not. If it doesn’t, refer them to the proper person who can help them outside of group meetings (if there is one), and tell them they can stick around and see what we’re up to if they’re curious, but otherwise they will have to go elsewhere. In short, we can still help the person, but they aren’t a member of the group (at least, not now. No one gets turned away permanently).
I think it’s important to distinguish that the group also cares about personal growth in addition to contributing to the community, because a group that only has a desire to contribute might not be as driven, innovative, creative, or effective. They can still do a good job, but it’ll probably take them a longer time, and they’re less likely to do anything too special.
Plus, people who are committed to their own growth always have more and more that they can contribute as time goes on. You can expect a group of growth-oriented individuals to become more intelligent, disciplined, efficient, and loving as time goes on—especially when a bunch of them come together.
Personal Development House
I have also considered creating a community by building a personal development house. I’d want for it to at least have a main room where people can gather and converse freely, and another for private conversation-- perhaps such as for mentoring with yours truly. It’d be interesting to have other personal coaches and mentors work at the house as well, presumably in their own offices.
Books and Articles
On the flipside, I’ve also imagined this thing being fairly gargantuan. There would be pamphlets explaining what personal growth is and why it’s important. There would be free copies of the most valuable articles myself and others have written on a variety of topics. My book (What is a Real Life?) would be available for purchase and perhaps even a few others, to create a sort of small bookstore. Perhaps there would be used books free to borrow or even take, so there would be sort of a small library also. However, I might have to be selective about the books people bring in (I’m uncertain whether Fifty Shades of Grey would be appropriate for a personal development house, for example. Maybe if you want to learn more about domination/submission relationships, it’s an OK place to start).
Of course, those are just the tiny details. I’ve imagined a room with a stage- perhaps we can call it the “Convention Center” or the “Lecture Hall”- where public speaking events and workshops would occur. This would turn the house into an event center. Any speaker who has my permission could schedule to have their event in there, and whether they charge people to see them is up to them. I’d take the stage myself at times, too. Maybe I’d invite musicians to play there sometimes as well—and even other types of acts such as comedians and plays.
There would be a group meeting room where people would organize to talk about specific topics and carry out any relevant activities, such as by giving speeches to the group if it is a public speaking club. Perhaps this would include groups such as the type described above, and the members would convene to brainstorm ideas and work on projects.
Float Tank (and Art Supplies)
I’ve thought it would be neat to have a float tank in the house. The tank is a great place to relax, meditate, find pain relief, and to be refreshed. The world is a friendly, loving place after you step out of a float tank.
The first (and so far only) time I went, I felt very secure and comfortable with just being myself after my float. I didn’t worry much at all about what other people thought of me, and I felt freely able to express interest in whatever caught my attention. It’s a simple shift, yet it’s profound.
To use the tank, people would schedule for an appointment—say, from 1 hour to 90 minutes long. I would need a room for the tank and a shower, and another room for the person who just used the tank to fix themselves up while the tank is cleaned and prepared for the next person to use it.
These ideas for the tank come from Bodymind Float Center in Rochester, New York, which I can’t recommend enough. It’s such a clean, friendly, cozy, and peaceful environment—the first thing you do when you walk in is take off your shoes! My experience there was fantastic.
At the Float Center there was a large scrapbook in the waiting room called “Float Notes.” People can take the colored pencils next to it and write or draw anything (appropriate) they’d like. Most people write about their experience, an insight they had during their float, or they draw a picture. It’s very inspiring both to look through and to contribute to, particularly after you yourself have floated.
I’d want to have something similar to this in the main room of the house, so everyone can contribute and leave their mark in some way. Perhaps there would also be separate pieces of paper that people can draw or write on, and they could be hung up afterward. Maybe there would even be a separate room for people to create art in.
Also, they had free tea at the Float Center, so I’d probably have some of that, too. :)
Food and Lodging
I’ve also had some ideas that would properly earn the house the title of “House.” This includes a kitchen with ingredients that anyone can freely use. I might even have several “hotel” rooms that people can stay in overnight. There would also be a small restaurant or café which, looking at my life right now, would probably be vegan. It would at least focus on serving whole foods, so no cookie-eaters allowed (it’d mostly if not entirely be gluten-free, too). :)
I’ve figured that if I’m going to be in a city there are going to be a lot of financially-struggling and homeless people around, so I might as well help them. The kitchen would be freely available for them to use as well as a shower, a washing machine and dryer, and a bathroom. Perhaps some of the “hotel” rooms would be free to use, though this might be hard to regulate, especially if a large number of people seek shelter (I need to think that one through quite a bit more). In addition to free use of the kitchen, I would probably have people prepare free meals for them. This too might be hard to regulate, but I’d find a way to make it work. They would of course have access to any free events, group meetings, and educational materials as well, just as everyone does.
Maybe I would even hire a few of them to work at the house, such as to clean, provide maintenance, prepare food, and work as receptionists. If I could accommodate it, homeless people would be allowed to live and eat at the house in exchange for their labor. That would be neat-o (that being said, if you have one, don’t sell your house to come live at mine, you silly!).
To a lesser extent I’ve thought about having rooms where people can get massages, meditate, take exercise classes (e.g. yoga), and just plain be alone, though those don’t appeal to me all that much except for the last one. For some people it’s tough to find some time alone, though such time can be valuable to renewal, getting in touch with what’s important to you, and coming upon insights. It’s a simple idea to include, but it can be an important one.
Outdoor Area and Garden
If possible, I would like for there to be an outdoor area as well. People gather there just as they would inside, plus they can have picnics and play games. It would be neat to have a garden so that at least a few of the café and kitchen ingredients will be grown by ourselves. Similarly, I’ve thought about growing plants inside all around the house, both for decorative and for food-yielding purposes. I sure do like food-yielding purposes.
If there’s anything else I would include, it might be a classroom. Speaking events, group meetings, and free conversation might be enough altogether to provide education, but there could be value in having formal classes with teachers and students, too. Maybe someday I’ll be teaching Personal Development 101. :)
The possibilities for such a place are both nearly-endless and exciting. It’s tough to imagine that this would not be a worthwhile investment.
All in all, I’ve considered building at least one personal growth house. For a while I figured I would probably move to somewhere like New York City to do this, though lately I’ve had a surge of interest and faith in my present city of Utica. I’m really starting to think that over the next several decades this city could see some fantastic growth. People who have been here may think I sound a little silly, but I just have a feeling. Maybe I’ll run with it. Whatever the case, I’ll probably be in (well, near) this city for at least the next year, so I might as well do something for it.
I’ve thought about building one house in a city, and another in a more remote, perhaps rural, area, which would be more exclusive. Perhaps the relatively wealthy would flock there to flee temporarily from daily life, and come together for renewal. Well, and planning super cool stuff together, of course. I wouldn’t want this to be like some spa-getaway, though that could certainly be part of it. The idea for this one is rough around the edges right now, but I think it has potential.
On the flipside, I’ve thought about making my way across the U.S. over a number of years and starting personal development groups all over the place. As I move from one place to the next I’d have to set things so that the group could and would sustain itself without me (probably not too hard to do, if people are truly committed to it).
Perhaps at some point the established groups would have such prominence that others would start by way of inspiration, without me intervening at all.
I’m content with at least one group, but damn, wouldn’t this be neat?
When will all this happen?
When will I start all these things? Well, I’ve considered the personal growth house to be a “farther in the future” project. I’m not sure that I would put any work into it at all for at least the next two years, although I did say the same thing about writing a book. I think it would be more logical to focus on the more modest projects of my business first, partially because I’m a relatively-unknown kook at the moment. Then again, jumping into the bigger challenges early on might be the best way for both me and my career to grow. Besides: then I can get to even bigger stuff sooner. Hm… (and I do have ideas of that nature. Perhaps another article would be appropriate).
As for the personal development group, quite frankly, I do not know. It would make sense to start as soon as possible, but, admittedly, I am nervous. I don’t want to rush into this without clear, concise goals for a particular community—otherwise I’ll look silly. Although, I have looked silly before, and it’s not really that big of a deal.
Maybe I can start a group that’s mainly focused on personal growth and let it take off from there. Hm…
And maybe at some point along the way, I will consult Meetup.com. I don't know that it's the best way, but surely it can help.
Want to Help?
If anyone has any feedback on my ideas, such as how you think this would go over, what I could do better, or even how I could get started, feel free to let me know through the Contact form. And if you even want to help me to do this, that would be wonderful-- particularly if you live in central New York. If you don’t live around here I’m sure we could still help each other out somehow, perhaps by making use of the Internet, so let me know anyway. Any support is welcome.
And, hey-- if you want to run with these ideas yourself, go ahead. It’s more important to me that these things become a part of reality than that I create them. I regard you as a fellow innovator and servant of humanity, and I am glad to provide you with inspiration. Just let me know how it goes, alrighty?
Well, I guess I had better get crackin’… Somehow. :)
Dare to dream, my friends—and share it. Perhaps you’ll find you’re not the only one dreaming in this world.