Are You a Scanner?
by Barbara Sher
Excerpted from her book Refuse to Choose!
never stick to anything."
those people who seem to find and be satisfied with one area
of interest, you're genetically wired to be interested in many
things, and that's exactly what you've been trying to do.
your behavior is unfamiliar -- even unsettling -- to the
people around you, you've been taught that you're doing
something wrong and you must try to change. But what you've
been told is a mistake -- you have been misdiagnosed. You're a
different creature altogether.
you build the productive future you were designed for, you
need a set of instructions. That's what I've tried to create
in this book.
Scanner might be fascinated with learning how to play bridge
or bocce, but once she gets good at it, she might never play
it again. One Scanner I know proudly showed me a button she
was wearing that said, "I Did That Already."
problem is, Scanners are starving in the candy store. They
believe they're allowed to pursue only one path. But they want
them all. If they force themselves to make a choice, they are
forever discontented. But usually Scanners don't choose
anything at all. And they don't feel good about it.
some point in high school or soon after, everyone was expected
to make a choice, and that's when Scanners ran into trouble.
While some people happily narrowed down to one subject,
Scanners simply couldn't.
Scanner who all through school might have been seen as an
enthusiastic learner had now become a failure.
the exception of learning project management techniques, the
only thing Scanners needed was to reject conventional wisdom
that said they were doing something wrong and claim their true
every case of low self-esteem, shame, frustration, feelings of
inadequacy, indecisiveness, and inability to get into action
simply disappeared the moment they understood that they were
Scanners and stopped trying to be somebody else.
clear examples of Divers are professional musicians,
scientists, mathematicians, professional chess players,
athletes, business owners, and financiers.
people may "relax" with a hobby, but they're rarely passionate
about anything but their field. In fact, Divers often wonder
how people can be interested in anything but what they're
even make fun of themselves for it, like the racing bicyclist
Tim Krabbé described in The Rider, who glances up from his
gear to look at people walking and says, "Nonracers. The
emptiness of those lives shocks me."
rarely spends a moment wondering what he might be missing when
he's totally absorbed in his field. On the other hand, 99
percent of Scanners spend a lot of time scanning the horizon,
thinking about their next move.
reverse is usually true: They can't care about anything
because they're depressed. One of the main symptoms of
depression is the inability to feel desire. A woman who had
experience with depressed people told me:
experience, I've found that many Scanners actually do have
ADD, but they are true Scanners all the same. I've also met
people with diagnosed ADD who appear to be Scanners but are
you understand that a bona fide Scanner has no problem with
the normal ability to focus (as opposed to ADD-style
hyper-focus), the confusion with ADD usually clears up.
Scanner doesn't want to specialize in any of the things she
loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even
think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.
Scanner is curious because he is genetically programmed to
explore everything that interests him. If you're a Scanner,
that's your nature. Ignore it and you'll always be fretful and
turned into specialized training centers; science and
technology -- the realm of specialists -- reigned supreme.
Departments of literature, the humanities, even history were
seen as irrelevant luxuries.
with that decline in respect came a radical change in the
stature of Scanners. No longer described as "well-rounded,"
"Renaissance people," or "erudite," almost overnight they were
seen as irrelevant, silly, irresponsible.
Now, regarding Scanners, this change in thinking is complete. Almost everyone in our society takes it as a self-evident truth -- obvious, simple common sense -- that Scanners are doing something wrong. Unfortunately, that has come to include Scanners themselves.
~ ~ ~
Choose! A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That
You Love - by Barbara Sher
Also see her related article: What
is a Scanner?
books have sold millions of copies and been translated into
dozens of languages.
has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, and
Good Morning America, and her popular public television
specials air nationally throughout the year.
has taught her revolutionary systems in universities, in
Fortune 100 companies, and at professional conferences all
over the world.
Her site: Genius Press
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"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 bookstores. When somebody loves books, that's a Scanner."
Barbara Sher, from her BlogTalkRadio podcast at top of page.
The image is "Untitled Film Still #13, 1978," by Cindy Sherman.
Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills.