Written by: Anne Bolender
Are you a scanner, a multi-passion individual?
If you are not sure, try answering these questions:
1) Do you have difficulties maintaining focus in one area of interest over a long period of time?
2) Have you started several businesses or hobbies over the years, only to find that you lose interest and leave projects unfinished or businesses undeveloped?
3) Are you intensely curious about any number of subjects, for short periods of time, but find that you quickly and without really knowing why, lose interest in the subject?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, chances are you are a multi-passionate individual, a scanner.
I first heard of the term ‘scanner’ in the 1994 book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, written by Barbara Sher. But it was the book she published in 2006, Refuse to Choose, where Barbara Sher really begins to focus on defining, describing and deepening our understanding of who scanners are, and provides awesome career advice for these multi-passionate individuals.
What is a Scanner?
Scanners are individuals who are “genetically wired to be interested in many things” (B.Sher, p.vii).
Scanners enjoy any number of passions and purposes through their life, as opposed to other individuals who focus on one area of interest, one passion through their lives. For scanners, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is virtually impossible to answer with any degree of confidence.
Scanners can focus intensely on any topic. However, once they have satisfied their curiosity, once they have gained whatever experience or whatever ‘buzz’ they were looking for from that specific topic, they lose interest and move on to the next topic that excites them. No, this does not make scanners ‘flighty’ or ‘self-indulgent’.
Scanners are genetically programmed to explore everything that their intense curiosity attracts them to.
What Does Being a Scanner Mean to Someone Who Wants to Become an Entrepreneur?
This advice does not work for scanners!!
For scanners who want to become entrepreneurs, there are other options, including:
1) looking for the common thread that connects all of your passions – do they all involve teaching; or creativity; or writing; or inventing; or building something; or research??? Finding the common thread helps you build a business around the common thread, and then indulge you scanner interests through that common thread. You will often find that the common threads connect with your essential self core values. Knowing what your essential self core values are can help you identify these common threads. If you need some assistance identifying your essential self course values, you can download my free Personal Core Values eBook here.
2) build and run multiple businesses. Become a multi-business entrepreneur. There any number of business models and business focuses that compliment each other, or can be built and run online. In fact, it is not unusual to see online entrepreneurs who have several online, often unrelated, businesses. Coaches who are also portable business specialists, copywriters, and run online house swap companies; writers who also run SEO optimisation and web development businesses; artists who help other artists create online businesses, etc. The potential combinations are limited only by your imagination!!
3) develop a ‘good enough’ business, one that you love working on, provides you with a lot of variety in terms of your tasks, keeps your curiosity satisfied, and allows you the freedom to explore any number of hobbies.
4) develop a business model that fits your specific, individual personality. We are living at a time where we can create brilliantly successful new business models, involving uniquely new businesses developed from our unique personalities.
So have fun, be creative and definitely think outside of the box!! And these are just a few of the options potential multi-passionate entrepreneurs can explore.
As an introvert scanner myself, it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable with my ‘scanner’ personality. I am now in my 50’s and still cannot answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. For me this is no longer a badge of shame and discomfort, or even concern! Now I can have fun creating something special. Something uniquely mine, and that is awesome!!