A common struggle for some folks, when it comes to discovering their passion, is their seemingly lack of focus. There have been so many people who I have talked with, that struggle to define a single passion to pursue. Or they have an interest in one area, and suddenly lose that interest and want to take up something else. There can be a kind of jealousy of people who have a singular mission, something they’ve wanted to pursue their entire lives.
The part that I’m struggling with is the whole part about where my passion really lies. That may sound pretty dumb to most of you. But the truth is I am good at a bunch of different things. I enjoy a variety of stuff. And I tend to get passionate about things for relatively short bursts of time before I move onto the next thing.
You might begin to question whether you’ll ever find that “passion,” that one single “thing” that you want to do with your life. Chances are, if you have this type of personality that you won’t. That may seem a little harsh or disconcerting, but it’s actually quite liberating. I know, because I’m that type.
For the Love of Scanning – The Serial Enthusiast
Called Scanners, Renaissance Souls, or Serial Enthusiasts – among other fancy labels – it beats being called scattered, flaky, unfocused, or hyperactive. When someone thinks differently, people like to slap a nice label on them, and maybe even medicate them . But some of the most successful entrepreneurs have this type of personality. It used to drive me crazy that I couldn’t just pick one thing and run with it. Now, I’m glad I didn’t.
Barbara Sher defines a Scanner in her book Refuse to Choose! as “Someone fascinated by so many areas they can’t settle for just one.” Margaret Lobenstine’s book The Renaissance Soul and related Website provides a wealth of information on the subject. In addition to her book, she offers quizzes, workshops, and articles that cover “…ways to understand and design your life that don’t require you to choose one part of yourself, one interest, one passion over all others.“
…I, too, am a serial enthusiast…
Serial enthusiasts, also known as foxes, aren’t fully appreciated in our culture. We like hedgehogs, a.k.a. experts, better; in fact, we want to be them. No one has ever written a blog post titled “How to Be a Dilettante” (I checked). And yet, what would the world do without us? Some of the most interesting thinkers today – Malcom Gladwell, Steven Levitt, and Virginia Postrel, for example – are more fox than hedgehog. They draw on broad knowledge of many subjects to get at underlying patterns of meaning.
I can’t think of a more interesting and exciting group of people to be similar to.
How to Be a Dilettante – Embracing Your Enthusiasm
So where do you go from here? First, stop beating yourself up and embrace the fact that you have the amazing talent and intelligence to be able to tackle a bunch of subjects. How boring would it be if we all just did one thing our entire lives? Instead of struggling, use the resources available to capitalize on your talent (yes, talent, not liability) for learning and mastering a variety of things. Maybe move from serial enthusiast to serial entrepreneur. Or be known as the writer that can provide in-depth coverage on any subject needed. Choose multiple niches that interest you, and provide something of value that you feel is missing from what’s currently available.
The world is your oyster – why settle for just one pearl?