Scanner, or ADD?

Scanner, or ADD?

When clearing out my RSS reading list, came across this post on Talent Develop on Scanners:

  • “I can never stick to anything.”
  • “I know I should focus on one thing, but which one?”
  • “I lose interest in things I thought would interest me forever.”
  • “I keep going off on another tangent.”
  • “I get bored as soon as I know how to do something.”
  • “I can’t stand to do anything twice.”
  • “I keep changing my mind about what I want to do and end up doing nothing.”
  • “I work at low-paying jobs because there’s nothing I’m willing to commit to.”
  • “I won’t choose a career path because it might be the wrong one.”
  • “I think everyone’s put on this earth to do something; everyone but me, that is.”
  • “I can’t pay attention unless I’m doing many things at once.”
  • “I pull away from what I’m doing because I’m afraid I’ll miss something better.”
  • “I’m too busy, but when I do find time I can’t remember what I wanted to do.”
  • “I’ll never be an expert in anything. I feel like I’m always in a survey class.”
“If you’ve ever said these things to yourself, chances are good that you’re a Scanner, a very special kind of thinker. ” “Unlike those people who seem to find and be satisfied with one area of interest, you’re genetically wired to be interested in many things, and that’s exactly what you’ve been trying to do. ”

That sounds like me. The excerpt goes on to provide some insight into the problem of being expected to conform to the “one skill, one direction’ mindset that most people have. I myself have struggled with this in the definition of my own specialty, gravitating toward fields that have very broad problem spaces where being multi-interested in things pays off.


  1. Joan 18 years ago

    I was just talking about this book with a friend:, and even went so far as to go to the library and try to get it. I had left the exact name of the book in the car, and remembered it as “Choosing not to”. There are all sorts of ways to read into that. I’ve been accused of having ADD, because I prefer to have a little excitement in my life. I’ve been told this by people who like to get it done right the first time. If you get it done right the first time there is no room for happy accidents. I also sometimes drive home the long way, just for the heck of it.


  2. J Wynia 18 years ago

    That is like looking in a mirror. I know I don’t have ADD, because, like the linked article says, I don’t suffer from that microfocus distraction. My shifting interest is more on the order of 2-3 days or a week.

    The difference is that (from what I read the distintion as) that a scanner can spend 2 weeks completely enthralled with knitting: learning to knit, making something, teaching someone else and then the next week no longer be interested in it. ADD would make it difficult to sit and concentrate on the knitting book to get started and would have a harder time keeping focused on it.

    I can’t speak from experience with ADD directly, but I understand that it’s much more about the inability to concentrate on one thing for even an hour straight. Scanning is more about a shifting focus.

    I’ve gotten by by being good enough at a few of the things like technology that let me establish a career while still following my nature.

  3. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    It all reminds me a bit of Mr. Toad from Wind in the Willows. Oh…a MOTORCAR?!  I remember reading something about Mr Toad being Bipolar, and the author having a son who was also diagnosed that way.

  4. Bradleyscott 18 years ago

    Wow, I think I’m screwed.  I am a scanner WITH ADD ;)

    Seriously I always have issues reading books, I can’t stay focused on them, I have to read them little by little and have a hard time learning via books… is my friend.

    On the other hand I have a hard time staying interested in work and that entire list of questions sounds like me.  I would add the “I feel like ‘jack of all trades, master of none’”.

  5. peninah 18 years ago

    thank you dave! this is what i needed to hear.. this fits me to a T. :)

  6. arnarey 17 years ago

    nice to see that i am not alone in this big, wonderful world full of these fascinating things worth exploring ;-)

    my genuine scanner’s nature probably explains why so many of my friends belong among the “divers” (naturally, each of them works on a completely different field;-). it actually seems to me that the divers and the scanners have quite a lot in common – both are very curious, both are usually passionate about what they do etc. – which makes the interaction more than pleasant.

    however, i must admit that being a scanner and a perfectionist is a very time consuming combination ;-)