A Square-Peg People Book Review
Refuse to Choose!
by Barbara Sher
Refuse to Choose! is (quoting the subtitle): A Revolutionary Program For Doing Everything That You Love.*
It's an encouraging message to Scanners - those of us who are, in Sher's words: "...genetically wired to be interested in many things..."
It's for people who often struggle with not finishing things, who wonder: how do I choose only one big passion, what if I choose the wrong dream to follow, how do I combine all my loves to make a living?
I have a feeling that many Square-Peg-People are Scanners. To quote Sher, "Scanners are typically creative and not ordinarily tied to rigid thinking. They're the quintessential 'out of the box' people..."
That sounds like Square-Peg folk, doesn't it?
Barbara Sher first introduced the subject of Scanners in her book I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was... She described them as the opposite of specialists. They are interested in EVERYTHING, or so it seems (she has exercises in the Refuse to Choose book that help you find your true interests).
Sher names Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Goethe, and Ben Franklin as Scanners. Good company! She tells us why they were honored for their many interests, but in today's world the Scanner is often considered lazy or undisciplined.
Sher champions Scanners. She reminds us of our gifts - what it is that's so wonderful about being a Scanner. She also counters the negativism we often hear about pursuing multiple interests.
In one paradigm-shifting sentence Barbara Sher notes that: "If Scanners didn't think they should limit themselves to one field, 90 percent of their problems would cease to exist!"
As usual, Barbara Sher's book is filled with stories. You'll read about how Sher (a self-identified Scanner) cried with joy while looking over a college course description catalog - with the thrill of all there was to learn.
A few chapter titles will give you an idea of some of the other stories in the book: Too Busy to Do What I Love; I Won't Do Anything If I Can't Do Everything; Commitment Phobia; I Never Finish Anything...
Sher describes the problems that each of the different kinds of Scanners will have and gives advice on ways to get around those problems. She helps us examine what we get out of scanning. And Sher even describes the best possible jobs for each kind of Scanner.
She talks about how ADD concentration problems feel different from Scanning concentration problems (Sher has ADD, and is a Scanner).
Like her other books, the advice offered in this one is not the "Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it" type comments or suggestions. She does not make it seem like all you need to do is have some will-power. Barbara Sher offers practical and specific advice.
I'm definitely a Scanner. I think I've even figured out which kind. I believe I'm a Serial Scanner - but it'll take a few more readings of the book to be sure. Probably due to earlier Barbara Sher books (and some wonderful Scanner friends that I can commiserate with) I have felt pretty secure, in the past several years, with being a Scanner.
But, I know what it's like to feel confused about not being able to pick just ONE big calling. This book will be healing balm for anyone who struggles with managing multiple interests.
And for those who are already OK with being Scanners, Refuse to Choose! offers plenty of management tools and ideas about why we are who we are. Even if you aren't a Scanner, the stories about people's love of learning are worth the price of the book - I found the excitement very contagious.
*That's the subtitle on my copy of the book - apparently there's a new one now.
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