022: 4 Tips for the Scanner Personality Type [Podcast]

Do you feel scattered? Do you have many different interests in life? Does it frustrate you when others tell you to just choose one career path and stick with it? You just might have the same personality type as I do. Scattered may not be as bad as you think it is.

scanner personality type

It has been called the polymath, the Scanner, the Renaissance Man, and even more recently a multipotentialite. In fact, if I just described you, I would suggest you check out what Emilie Wapnick is doing at PuttyLike.com.

I have my own history of wondering. So far to date I have been:

  • a high school teacher
  • a basketball coach
  • a real estate investor
  • an Executive Recruiter
  • on staff at a local church
  • a blogger, who has multiple income producing blogs

At first glance, you might say I live a life that has a lack of focus. My problem (or gift as I hope you will see) is that I have a passion for learning. When you have a passion for learning, you will seem scattered. The Scanner Personality type has for the most part been shoved to the side in Corporate America today. I am not looking for sympathy, I have seen it first hand in others.

When I was working as an Executive Recruiter, large corporations had no interest in someone with many different skills and expertise. They wanted specialist. They didn’t want someone who had a horizontal working style (over many different subjects). They desired a vertical working style (being a specialist in one thing).

For the scanner, choosing just one thing causes their spirit to die. What do you do then when you have the Scanner personality?

4 Tips for the Scattered Personality Type


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1. Embrace your passion for learning

Quit trying to whittle yourself down to just one thing. Fully embrace your love for learning. Allow yourself to remain curious and finally give yourself permission to do so.

2. Capture all your thoughts

If you are a true Scanner, then you never run out of new ideas, thoughts, and projects. Create either a physical notebook or an electronic Evernote notebook and capture these ideas. Even if you only choose to explore them later.

3. Give yourself permission to move on

I am not saying you should just live a life of quitting. What I am saying is in certain situations, you should be willing to move on. Let me offer a personal example. It used to frustrate me that I was always reading 3 to 5 books at the same time. I used to challenge myself to just choose one and stick with it until I finished it. I see it much different today. Maybe I should stop reading a book because I got what I wanted out of it.

4. Have the courage to blaze a different trail

Your resume just may look scattered to the average eye. That is okay. I’d rather live a life that appears scattered to others than live a life that tries to meet the expectations the world has set for me. The point is I am learning more about myself and my passions at each step along the way. I think you will discover the same is true for you.

Question: Are you a Scanner Personality Type? Have you fully embraced the way God made you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    23 thoughts on “022: 4 Tips for the Scanner Personality Type [Podcast]

    1. “Maybe I should stop reading a book because I got what I wanted out of it.” That’s why my nightstand has a stack of 8-15 books at any given moment! I stop when I get what I wanted/needed and move on! Had felt a bit of guilt lately, that I should just “finish” some of them and put them back on the shelf, but I don’t wanna. When they’re near me I pop in and out of them, like visiting with different friends. Thanks for giving a name to this personality type for me!

    2. Hi Jonathan, Before stumbling on your website, I too recently discovered I was a scanner and boy has it lifted some of the weight off my shoulders. I now know why I was so reckless during my last years in high school. If I had just let myself get out of the way of my true personality boy, where would I be today. But instead, I went by everyone’s rule in trying to find a “career” I could stick too. I joined the Navy soon after almost not graduating high school. And, even though I got out after my 4 year term. I can tell you that looking back this was probably the most stimulating job I ever had. However, I don’t think scanners do very well when you’re constantly being micromanaged like in the military.

      Anyway, the reason I’m ranting is because I see that you have kids and are married. In my family, I know that secretly my wife wishes I would just settle down and just grow up. I know that her and I especially are tired of being asked by my friends and family, “Jose is doing what now?” Somehow, we’ve been miraculously married now for over 14 years. I think she wonders the same I’m sure…My question to you is, how does our personality affect those we are married too? How can we help them cope with our creativity without them giving up on us and calling it quits?

      • Thanks for your comments. I too have felt the way you have. When it comes to your wife, the best thing you can do is to study a book called His Needs, Her Needs. Being able to better understand what her #1 need is and meet it will help you. For most wives it is security. You need to look for ways to show her you are engaged and hold her need for security in high regard.

    3. Dear Jonathan,
      Thank you so much for the post.
      I always thought I was weird because of my interest in so many different things. Your words encouraged me. Thank you.
      I am sending you my best wishes for the Christmas and New Year.

    4. Wow! I have never heard of this before. Like you, apparently, I fell into the trap of thinking that I was more successful if I embraced the same job or even career for 30+ years. That has always seemed like death to me! I struggle with this even now as a pastor on staff at a local church. Although I love it and the church family, I can’t stop being multi-employed and (what I used to think of as ADHD or scatterbrained or wanderlust) a multipotentialite. Some have told me I am crazy for serving as a pastor at a church, a chaplain in the national guard AND now a blogger who wants to build his platform to help church leaders and their spouses be happy, healthy and holy. Thanks for giving me permission to simply be “me.”

      • Awesome Neil. I know for me this has been an eye-opening discovery I have had in the past year. I feel much more at ease to know that God made me this way and I should fully embrace it. I can’t help but live a life pursuing multiple passions. It’s just the way I am wired. What I have to remind myself is that there is plenty of time to pursue it all AND the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. I need His direction and guidance in all things.

        • Jonathan, I’d love to interview you as a church leader who has experienced this dynamic and has moved away from church ministry in that capacity, and to put this on my up and coming podcast for Church Leaders Campfire.Would you be willing/interested?

          • Sure, i’d be happy to. However, I still serve/work on a part-time limited basis at my local church. I still have a heart for ministry, but I have the flexibility to work as little as I want or need to. Blogging offers that freedom and flexibility for me to work in multiple passions.

    5. Hi Jonathan !
      Nice Article. I was feeling lonely as I too have many areas where I work simultaneously. I thought I could never master in either as I am not focused. And I just don’t want to stick to just one area for my entire life. But in fact your article gave me confidence that I am going in right direction.
      Thanks !

    6. Yeah so true. Thanks .. I remember once a potential employer reading my resume and of course I got the feedback that could look scattered, hahaha. Anyhow, good to know that I am not alone 🙂

      • Hi Astrid. When I worked as an Executive Recruiter I was always looking for the “focused” candidate, but I also met the most fascinating, talented professionals who didn’t fit the norm. Big corporations have shoved these individuals aside because they lacked “focus.” However, in fact, they have a lot of creative talent to bring to the world.

    7. Thank you so much for this great article! I’ve never heard it explained like this. I just always thought there was something “wrong” with me because I could not focus on one thing for very long before becoming bored. My hardest challenge will be to find my “life’s work” knowing I can’t focus on just one field.

      • hi Jennifer, I know how you feel. That has been my journey as well. Just know that you have plenty of time to explore all your passions. The internet has made it possible for us!

    8. Jonathan I can so identify with the Scanner personality type. I’m guessing I am older than you (47) so my list of jobs/careers is longer :-). Where does the scanner type come from? I am only familiar with the types described by Flaurence Littauer in her book “Personality Plus”.

      Great to have met up with you through PU!

    9. This is the first time I have felt described in a “professional development” type article! I too have been many different things and I am now a college instructor which allows me some more latitude with my scanner personality. But, this is really helpful. I have often felt like I needed to limit myself, get focused more on one thing, truly specialize…but, then I would lose interest. So, thanks for making me feel better about who I am and what I can do!

      • Sue, you are welcome. Embrace your passion for learning many things. I’d also encourage you to read a book entitled “Refuse to Choose.”