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Excerpted from Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. Copyright © 2006 by Barbara Sher. Excerpted by permission of Rodale, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses, to cook and sing, and to create the perfect dinner party."

  Barbara Sher, Refuse to Choose, Part 1

What is a Scanner?

Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses, to cook and sing, and to create the perfect dinner party. (You'll notice I didn't use the word "or," because Scanners don't love to do one thing or the other; they love them all.) A 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."

To Scanners the world is like a big candy store full of fascinating opportunities, and all they want is to reach out and stuff their pockets.

It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? The 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.

As kids, most Scanners had been having a great time! At school no one objected to their many interests, because every hour of every student's school day is devoted to a different subject. But at 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.

The conventional wisdom was overwhelming and seemed indisputable: If you're a jack-of-all-trades, you'll always be a master of none. You'll become a dilettante, a dabbler, a superficial person -- and you'll never have a decent career. Suddenly, a Scanner who all through school might have been seen as an enthusiastic learner had now become a failure.

But one thought wouldn't leave my mind: If the world had just continued to accept them as they were, Scanners wouldn't have had any problems. With 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 identity. Almost 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.

It appears that Scanners are an unusual breed of human being. One reason they don't recognize themselves is that they don't often meet people like themselves.

How do you know if you're a Scanner?

Maybe it would be useful to first discuss who isn't one.

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