Inspiration For Scanners, From Barbara Sher

A few months ago, I started researching resources about pursuing multiple interests, contrary to society’s expectation of choosing one thing.   I read numerous articles, research papers, watched videos and identified relevant books.  During this process, I discovered Barbara Sher and her work on the topic. I read about her books, visited her website and became inspired by her work; I instantly added her books to my Amazon shopping cart!

I highly recommend Barbara’s work! One book in particular, Refuse to Choose, resonated with me. Here is the description of it from Barbara’s website:

In the book Refuse To Chose: A Revolutionary Program For Doing Everything That You Love, Barbara identifies someone she calls The Scanner–someone who frequently has a multiplicity of interests, but finds it hard to create a successful life he or she loves because their passions and abilities are taking them in so many different directions. Contrary to popular wisdom, Sher tells Scanners that theirs is a unique ability, not a liability. She also states that they must do everything they love, not zero in on one pursuit at the expense of all others. With dozens of powerful techniques Sher has developed to free people from “goal paralysis,” readers will stop thinking of themselves as dabblers or dilettantes, and find innovative ways to live lives of variety, challenge, and joy.

I couldn’t get enough of Refuse to Choose once I started reading it! How did Barbara know my life so well?! It seemed like every other line explained a thought, challenge, or scenario I had experienced before. I read with a pencil in hand to note all the lines that resonated with me (I couldn’t use a highlighter or pen because I have this thing about keeping my books unmarked and an erasable pencil brought me a lot less stress).


I took the book everywhere, including on my trip to Cuba! I’ve since gifted and recommended it to friends who have multiple interests and aspire to do more in life. One of my friends said it was one of the best books he has read (and he reads a lot)! He became a believer too. We signed up for Barbara’s newsletter, and soon after, were notified that she had an upcoming book club for Refuse to Choose. We were super excited and signed up for that too! We were so moved that we emailed Barbara to share how meaningful her book has been.

Participating in the book club for the past few months has been a great experience. Refuse to Choose is dotted with exercises which I didn’t finish while reading the book. So I looked forward to doing them as part of the weekly book club assignments.  Overall, this committed time allowed me to reflect on my interests, skills, and truths. I wanted to realign myself and validate what I’ve presented as my truths – what I enjoy and what I aspire to do.

A few weeks ago, I received Barbara’s newsletter and noticed she had an upcoming telesummit, Dare to Soar.  I looked through the agenda which had some interesting topics and speakers.  I was particularly excited to see Barbara’s time slot!  What a pleasure it would be to hear from her real-time! I blocked off time on my calendar so I’d be available to participate.

I logged into the telesummit at the beginning and followed along throughout the day. Participants had an opportunity to chime in and ask the speakers questions, share stories and provide feedback on the activities.  Of course, I loved Barbara’s session and hearing her provide real-time advice to participants on their situations.  Everyone was excited to hear her voice and greet her.

A major highlight of the day was when I personally thanked Barbara for her body of work and let her know that she has been an inspiration. I told her about my journey with the Refuse to Choose book club and applying the lessons from her book. Her response was very warm – she thanked me and asked where my work can be found. I mentioned this site along with my Twitter account since I was tweeting about the Telesummit and using its hashtag. There were multiple contests during the day so I was thrilled to learn that I won a DVD of the WMHT Public Television show Refuse to Choose! with Barbara Sher and the hardcover edition of Barbara Sher’s book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was!  I received these a few days ago and can’t wait to dive in!

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Have you heard of Barbara Sher or read any of her book? How did her work inspire you? What were the key things that you learned? How did it change your outlook or life?  Share your thoughts and perspective below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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