It’s ok not to specialise – maybe you’re a Scanner

What was I going to write about? Oh yes, “Scanners”. No, not the type you use to make digital copies of family photos to store on your PC but, rather, a type of personality.

They have also been referred to as generalists or multi-potentialites.

The term “Scanner” is used by Barbara Sher to describe a person that has very many varied interests and so are unable to decide on one thing to do with their lives.

In my last post about Barbara Sher that you can read here, I posed this question:

“What if you think your interests are too many and diverse and you can’t decide on any one thing that you love because you just love ALL the things??”

If this is you you’ll be happy to know that Barbara has written a book about exactly that called I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was”  and has devoted her life to helping Scanners be at peace with who they are and work with their gift.

So what is a Scanner?

Here she tells us what that Scanner personality type is all about (according to her experience) 



If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here are a few of the thoughts scanners have about themselves that resonated with me the most:

I can never stick to anything.

I know I should focus on one thing, but which one?

I lose interest in things I thought would interest me forever.

I keep going off on another tangent.

I keep changing my mind about what I want to do and end up doing nothing.

Commitment feels like a jail sentence.

I don’t (or seldom) finish books.

I’ll never be an expert in anything and I think that’s superficial.


As she read this list, I felt like a stuck record (those flat round things made of vinyl that have music infused into their grooves which magically comes out when run through with a tiny needle. Still boggles my mind.), saying “yes” repeatedly after every sentence.

Finally! I had found an explanation for why I am the way I am!

She goes on to say, “What you have assumed is something you have to overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift”.

Instead of us always bucking against the way we are, we need to just go with it.

So I wanted to get a copy of this book or one of her other ones at my local library, however all three of the libraries in Cape Town that show they have it on their system have it listed as being “lost”. I found that more interesting than disappointing because it made me think there must be many desperate scanners about that discover Barbara’s explanations for their seemingly strange and somewhat frustrating behaviour and they don’t want to ever let go of it. But isn’t that the opposite of being a Scanner? Or is a Scanners interest in being a Scanner the one thing they could be forever interested in?

Do you identify with any of the Scanner thoughts above?

Please let us know and comment below.  

It’s ok not to specialise – maybe you’re a Scanner
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One thought on “It’s ok not to specialise – maybe you’re a Scanner

  1. Hello, so finally I know who I am! A scanner. I never have a hobby. Interesting, next, move on … love all sorts of things.

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