“I just keep changing my mind about what job I want to do.”
“Just one career for life? That sounds awful – what about all the other jobs I might like?”
“I tend to pull away from what I’m doing because I’m afraid I’ll miss something better.”
These are all words that ‘scanners’ might say. A scanner, as defined by author, Barbara Sher, is someone who is “genetically wired to be interested in many things.” Until I came across her book, What do I do when I want to do everything?, I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. From an early age, I seemed to be bobbing about in a sea of people who knew exactly what they wanted to be, and by when. They launched themselves towards their ideal career like heat-seeking missiles, while I bobbed around a bit longer, searching for The Thing That Would Sustain My Interest.
It’s not that scanners don’t have any interests. The ‘problem’ is that we have too many. The shortlist invariably becomes a longlist. Some things on the list keep their allure throughout life. Others, once tasted, fall by the wayside. Scanners keep moving, negatively labelled ‘butterfly minds’ by many.
It wasn’t until I read Sher’s book, and Charles Handy’s prediction that ‘portfolio’ careers made up of different strands might become a preferred way of working, that the penny dropped. Other people felt as I did.
One of the strands that I plait into my work life is career coaching. And that brings me into contact with many other scanners. The education system and workplace have combined forces over many years to funnel kids into a specialism. Early on, choices must be narrowed down. The renaissance spirit has been squashed. By the time scanners come to career coaching, they may be dispirited. Recognising and reframing a different version of ‘career’ with them is always a particular buzz for me. Oh and gets me interested in what they do …