Those of us who have many interests have a difficult time focusing on just one. When we are very young, we're often asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" This plants the seed early on that we have to pick one thing, one interest and develop throughout our work lives. We often feel enormous pressure to find our true calling, identify our passion. This can be very frustrating and lead to feeling like there's something wrong with us. During this episode, Robbi shares her personal challenges, experiences and frustrations with having multiple interests in a world that celebrates the expert; and what helped her finally realize that she was just wired differently and how to fully celebrate who she is.
How would you answer the following questions?
If you answer "yes" to most or all of these questions, you may be a Scanner, a term coined by Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams; OR a Multipotentialite, a title recently made more popular by Emilie Wapnick in her 2015 Ted Talk, "Why Some of Us Don't’ Have One True Calling," OR a Renaissance Soul, the name included in the title of both of Margaret Lobenstine’s books.
During the show, I share some of my challenges and experiences that led me to believe something was wrong with me because I couldn't focus on a single interest, or make a choice between my many interests. Throughout my childhood, into adulthood, and during college, I struggled internally with this.
In her book, Sher noted that she named us scanners "because instead of diving down into the depths of an interest, we scanned the horizon for many interests.” There's a chapter for each scanner type, there are several, not just one type.
Consider some notable scanners/multipotentialites/renaissance souls identified throughout history: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Aristotle.
Emilie has created a home for multipotentialites @ puttylike.com/. There you can take a quiz, join The Puttytribe, sign up for her blog or check out her latest book, How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don't Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up, published in May of 2017. I still haven't picked up my copy yet, but it's next on my list!
Here's my go to reference/recommendation list, in the order in which I read them:
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher: This book was where she introduced the challenges associated with having multiple interests and gave us all a name. Chapter 6 was THE chapter for me. It would take her a little over a decade to publish the scanner handbook, her next resource . . .
Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher: This is THE resource that shifted everything for me. Once I learned that there were others out there AND a champion in our corner who herself is a scanner and grew up with the same challenges and frustrations, I was elated. For me, it resonated big time and has since become my quintessential resource when working with folks who can't/won't settle on one interest.
The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One and The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life - A Creative and Practical Guide, both by Margaret Lobenstine: I love that she includes "life design" in the title, as it's all about you making a decision and creating the worklife and life that suits you, and your multiple interests and strengths. I haven't reviewed the second title, but my guess is that she provides even more creative alternatives and practical tips to guide you through your design process.
The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope: Published in 2012, this, for me, was another rich resource with an interesting approach. He uses an ancient allegory about the path to dharma interwoven with the stories of some of our favorite luminaries (Walt Whitman, Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman and others) and recent, real stories of people just like you who are on the path of self-discovery. Even though this title and its focus is one's true calling, I read it from the perspective of someone who has multiple interests, and I allowed all of these stories and the author's insights to further inspire and encourage me to fully embrace how I'm wired and to fully own and celebrate my multidimensional approach to work and life.
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