scanner or specialist

Barbara Sher, an American career coach, is responsible for the enormously comforting concept of the “scanner” personality. The idea is that some of us are simply better suited to being nimble generalists, switching from interest to interest, rather than specialists, focussing on one subject, one career, or one… whatever.

If you find self-help’s fixation with discovering your ‘passion’ or your ‘life purpose’ to be oppressive and bullying, consider that you might be a scanner and that you really can make a living, and a fulfilling life, as what our specialism-obsessed society dismisses – wrongly – as a ‘jack of all trades’.

(With thanks to Philip Carr-Gomm for telling me about this).

See also:

Specialists vs non-specialists, by Oliver Burkeman

How to Get What You Really Want, by Barbara Sher


I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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