Barbara Sher writes about and leads retreats for Scanners – “also known as renaissance men and women, eclectic experts, happy amateurs and delighted dilettantes.”
She notes they do not generally follow a linear career path, but may flourish with a series of jobs that are “good enough” to provide a living without being toxic, and allow time and energy for pursuing other, often creative, interests, whether or not a “career” or lucrative.
Sher says “A good enough job is a subsidy to the art. There are a number of things you want to do when you’re a Scanner, or a talented person, that will never pay money, or if they do, they won’t pay money for years. You don’t want to hitch the profit wagon to everything you’re talented at.”
“Lots of Scanners have a lot of fun with a good enough job. Look at clerks in books stores. When somebody loves books, that’s a Scanner.”
From one of her BlogTalkRadio podcasts – listen via the player on her article Are You a Scanner?
Barbara Sher is author of Refuse to Choose! A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love.
Especially after reading excerpts from her book and articles, I now consider myself a scanner, and I’ve had maintenance jobs such as glue testing and cell phone customer service, plus much more satisfying occupations including interviewing filmmakers for magazines; being a visual effects / motion graphics camera operator; research assistant in biology and psychology; drug rehab counselor, and writer/researcher for an addiction psychologist.
In the past, though, I was not a “happy amateur and delighted dilettante” as Sher writes. Partly due to depression and anxiety, I was for many periods of time not “content” being a scanner, feeling I was “wrong” or “deficient” – for example, when I compared myself with the PhDs I was working with. Thankfully, after living this way so many years, I am now much more self-accepting.
Barbara Sher’s writing and positive attitudes are probably helpful to many of us.
And it can be useful to look at how you think of yourself and your abilities as a Scanner or multitalented person, and whether you are taking on any negative attitudes about not being “normal” or mainstream.
The lower image is “Untitled Film Still #13,” 1978, by Cindy Sherman.” Related book: Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills.
The ChangingCourse site of Valerie Young has more perspectives on jobs and career change – here are some quotes:
Changing course from having a boss to being your own boss doesn’t happen overnight.
And while I think being an entrepreneur beats being an employee hands down, depending on your circumstances, your transition to self-employment may have to start with finding what Barbara Sher calls the ‘good enough’ job.
In order to qualify as the good enough job, Barbara says it must meet two criteria:
1) It can’t be toxic.
Jumping from one high stress job in your current field to another one is not the answer. (You’ll know you’ve stepped into another toxic job if once you get there you find yourself uttering the words, “same circus, different clowns.”)
Even though you may make less money in a different job or field, imagine how much happier and less stressed out you’ll be working in a more low-key or otherwise less challenging or demanding environment.
2) It can’t consume more than 40 hours a week.
There’s just no way around it. If you want to create a new and better life doing work you really love, you have to be willing to put in the time. That means investing some of your evenings and weekend time into building your real dream on the side.
One of the comments below is by Emilie Wapnick (“How To Make Money as a Multipotentialite…) – see video of her TED Talk: “Why some of us don’t have one true calling” in my article Multitalented and Creative.
Also see other videos and information in my article Resources For Multi-Passionate Entrepreneurs about her programs, including Renaissance Business: ‘Turn All of Your Interests into One Business.’