Why Settle for Just One Path?

work-wheelA 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.

Chris Cree over at SuccessCREEations brought up this really great point in his comment on Friday’s post, and in his follow-up post on his site:

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.

Les Orchard calls himself a Serial Enthusiast and Anne Zelenka concurs:

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?


  1. Now if I can just spin that wheel to a place where my more of my interests are producing income. I’d rather be a serial entrepreneur – that makes money than an idea man who’s not.

    Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement, Tony! The good news is that I am moving in the right direction.

  2. Glad to hear it Chris. From your recent posts, it sounds like you’re working it out.

    I’m looking forward to following along…

  3. Hi Stephanie – Thanks for stopping by. That’s a great post on Renaissance Souls and polymaths. I appreciate you sharing it with us.

    Char – I know what you mean. Lots of what Chris wrote resonated with me, as well.

  4. Hey Tony,
    I am not sure which name I like best… maybe renaissance soul! I like the rush I get from starting new things! I like to have lots of things going at once. It looks like I am in good company!

  5. I agree Kirsten. It’s a cool approach to life. I’d be bored out of my mind if I had to do the same thing day in and day out.

  6. Enjoyed this post (and the cartoon) tremendously. I’m a Scanner too–first worked in film, then grocery management, then practiced law, then provided negotiation training to corporations, then back to law, and now a career coach for unhappy lawyers. Phwew! But like you said, Tony, I’d be bored out of my mind if I had to do one thing for the rest of my life. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  7. Great post, Tony! I am definitely all of the above and I am realizing the biggest blessing is that everything I have done in the past in terms of work and life experience has brought me to this incredible place right now where I am helping people transform their lives by standing witness to their process of letting go.

    There are so many techniques and strategies that are supercharging what I do for people! If I had stayed on one solitary path, the way our parents told us to (at least mine did), I wouldn’t have been able to bring the depth of my experience to the table as I do now!

    If it’s true that humility is about being ‘right-sized’, not more than I am, not less, then it’s good to be able to hone in on who I am!

    thanks for doing what you do!

    Jessica from It’s Not About Your Stuff.com

  8. That’s a terrific point Jessica. There’s a saying that everything happens exactly as it was supposed to, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened that way. Layering your past work experience to get to where you are to day is a great way to look at it.

  9. Great find Stephanie. My favorite line, speaks to what Jessica said:

    “I would not have rewritten a word of my life script. It has been perfect and has paid off, even with its hard moments, for it has given me plenty of opportunities to learn and to share my spiritual gains.”

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  11. WHY did I never think of this?! My folks once ran a funeral home and flower shop (in the same building; convenient, eh?) Now they still have the funeral home but build trophies instead of flower arrangements. BUT, when they had the shop, they also did these things: rented videos, rented games (and their players/systems), rented a carpet shampooer, sold helium balloons, did jewelry (cleaned, sent for repair, sold), did engraving (in small amounts, before the trophies), repaired broken VCRs for custsomers (and cleaned them)….There’s so many things! It’s no wonder I loved hanging around there whenever I could as a child. And I imagine the variety really made a difference for my folks, both financially, and so they don’t get bored. Variety is the spice of life!

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