Refuse to Choose! , by Barbara Sher -- Book Review

Book Classification : Self-Help - Psychology - Time Management - Careers

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Refuse to Choose! : A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love , by Barbara Sher
Hardcover - 288 pages
First Edition, March 7, 2006
Published by Rodale Books

ISBN 1594863032
ISBN-10: 1-59486-303-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-59486-303-5

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Book Review

Many of us have imagined what it would be like if we could do everything that sounds interesting. I could be a writer on Mondays, an astronomer on Tuesdays, a gardener on Wednesdays. Just for variety, make that ... an astronomer every other Tuesday, and a brain surgeon on the alternate Tuesdays. That's just for next few months. After that, something completely different.

Now, back to reality. The length of a human life span limits the number of careers we can train for. Even if you could live for centuries, no employer would sign you up to make yourself available on alternate Tuesdays. Even to the extent that reality and social institutions do permit some variety in exploring our interests, our culture pushes you to choose and specialize. This pressure seems to attain the urgency of a moral principle. Your parents and teachers told you a thousand times that a normal person will "stick to it" and "buckle down." Your school staff began to pressure you to select a major when you were about 16. If your neighbors were to call you an amateur or a dilettante, that sounds like an obscenity being hurled.

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Refuse to Choose!
A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love
by Barbara Sher

Councelor and author Barbara Sher says that Scanners should be recognized as a personality type. Although society isn't sufficiently advanced to recognize it, being interested by many more things, but each of them to a lesser degree of time commitment, is a valuable skill. It's a talent for exploring new experiences and ideas. It's a gift. Look at Leonardo da Vinci [11-12], who filled numerous notebooks as he jumped back and forth among ideas for works of art, sketches of futuristic inventions, notes on biology and other sciences, and his philosophical observations. Look at Aristotle, who attracted a following who listened to him lecture on physics, politics, poetry, and more. Aristotle, we will note, "never picked a major." [39] If today's society doesn't appreciate the Scanner, this shows as much ignorance as when earlier societies declared people to be misfits if they were left-handed. [21]

About the Author

Barbara Sher is a speaker, career/lifestyle coach, and the best-selling author of eight books on goal achievement. Her books have sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages. She has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, and Good Morning America, and her popular public television specials air nationally throughout the year. Barbara has taught her revolutionary systems in universities, in Fortune 100 companies, and at professional conferences all over the world.

- From the Publisher

If you're a Scanner -- and, remember, that's a valid personality type, and you're entitled to it -- you may have been misdiagnosed as someone with ADD or depression. (The opposite is also a danger: that a person who really does have ADD or depression, incorrectly rationalizing that he or she is a Scanner, may neglect to have the condition treated.) [8]

How is a Scanner in modern times supposed to survive and be happy at the same time? "Until now," Barbara Sher says, "the manual has been missing." [10] Now the manual is here.

Barbara Sher will guide you, as you begin to keep a Daybook like that of da Vinci, not a journal in the usual sense of the word, but a place to record diversities and tangents. Jot down that plot idea for a great mystery novel -- which you'll probably never write. "Finishing a project is not the issue here," she says. [15] You only need to write enough so that you won't "forget why you were excited." [15] You could also write a blog online. [16] Go ahead and fill containers with a variety of magazine clippings, and let other people, who don't understand what you're doing, call it "clutter." [18] The author shares some of the correspondences she has received. Some of them express that her message give her readers the feeling that they have just been paroled from jail. [35] Now they have permission to be what they naturally are.

Now we can see that other people were wrong when they said that you never finish anything. "We don't know why the scanner is involved with a subject ... so we don't know when he's finished." As Sher likes to point out: although it looks as though the bee is attracted to the flower, the bee only wants the nectar. [29]

Table of Contents
Are You a Scanner?vii
Chapter 1: All about Scanners 3
Chapter 2: What's Wrong with Me? 21
Chapter 3: Scanner Panic. 37
Chapter 4: Commitment Phobia 48
Chapter 5: Too Busy to Do What I Love. 62
Chapter 6: I Won't Do Anything If I Can't Do Everything. 73
Chapter 7: I Can't Get Started 86
Chapter 8: I Never Finish Anything 101
Chapter 9: About Cyclical Scanners 121
Chapter 10: Are You a Double Agent? 123
Chapter 11: Are You a Sybil? 142
Chapter 12: Are You a Plate Spinner? 162
Chapter 13: About Sequential Scanners 176
Chapter 14: Are You a Serial Specialist? 178
Chapter 15: Are You a Serial Master? 191
Chapter 16: Are You a Jack-of-All-Trades? 201
Chapter 17: Are You a Wanderer? 211
Chapter 18: Are You a Sampler? 227
Clupter 19: Are You a High-Speed Indecisive? 239

You will also begin to understand yourself more. Perhaps you knew generally that you have boredom-intolerance, but you have never tried to verbalize exactly why certain things but not others seem fascinating. Is it a matter of feeling certain sensations, or discovering something new, or learning how things work? [32-34] After knowing yourself better, you will begin to deal with the problem that you "always hear a clock ticking." [36] Consider the six major obstacles that cause your panic, and the six effective actions to address them. [41-44]

When you feel too busy to do what you love, reflect on how it felt the last times "you sat on the steps as the evening grew dark or played with your dog and had nothing else to do." [65] As a gift to yourself, "schedule a Micro Nervous Breakdown at least once a day." [66]

Perhaps the most problematic area, the discussion of which begins in chapter 4, is the fear of being stuck in a boring job. Make that ... "another" boring job. No matter what the job is, it won't take long before it is transformed from an adventure into a routine ... right? But not so fast. Let's first dispel the myths associated with that, and really explore that situation, like the fact that teachers get summers off [130], or the solution found by the author's client who lives in North Carolina and telecommutes by modem to a job in Oregon. [129] We have to survey the facts and highlight the actions that may be helpful.

This reviewer is delighted to have found this book. I'm writing these articles online in the first place because, after obtaining a state teaching certification, I decided that I didn't want teach, and after obtaining two engineering degrees, I decided that I didn't want to be an engineer. Looking at the way I keep my office-den (and my basement), I think I must be a Scanner. And after I upload this review, I'm going to read the book again.

In term of social contribution, if not sales rank, I do not exaggerate when I project that Refuse To Choose! must be one of the top twenty self-transformation books of this century.

Book review by Mike Lepore for


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Refuse to Choose! : A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love
by Barbara Sher

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Book Description from the Flap

Q: What Should You Do When You Want to Do Everything?

A: Everything!

You know people like this: smart, curious, devouring every new project or experience-and unable to decide, once and for all, on a single direction for their lives. Despite their passionate engagement with the world, they fear something is horribly wrong with them. Either they dread being labeled a dilettante-shallow, lazy, eccentric-or people in their lives have told them to "grow up" or "make up your mind."

You might even be one of these people yourself.

Perhaps you worry you'll never find the One Right Thing that will allow you to quit searching and settle down. But how can you choose one field? No matter how promising a path may appear, you could never give up your love of exploring. You're stuck in a deadlock and getting nowhere.

That kind of thinking is finished. You now have a name and a plan of action.

Beloved New York Times best-selling author Barbara Sher calls people with your type of unique mind "Scanners" -- rather than diving into a single interest, you scan the horizon, eager to explore everything you see. In this groundbreaking book, you'll not only learn about this exceptional (and misunderstood) Scanner mindset, but Barbara will also share her powerful, step-by-step program to shake off the negative labels, fulfill your great potential, and deliver on all of your distinctive talents, no matter how many interests you have.

Read a chapter or two and it will become very clear: There's nothing wrong with you at all. You're a different kind of thinker and need a different roadmap.You can only achieve your best if you do everything you love. By the time you finish the book, you'll know exactly what steps to take to have the rich, creative life you're capable of. With delightful wit and searing insight, Sher clearly shows that a Scanner's best choice is to ignore convention that forces her to pick and specialize. To truly be happy, she says, you must REFUSE TO CHOOSE!

Are You a Scanner?

"I'm fascinated by something new every week!"

"I can't commit to anything -- I'm afraid I'll miss something better!"

"I start so many things but finish almost none of them."

"I know I should focus on one thing, but which one?"

If you've thought these things, chances are you're a Scanner, a very special kind of thinker. Unlike people who are satisfied with one area of interest, you're genetically wired to pursue many areas, and that's exactly what you've been trying to do. But because your behavior is unfamiliar -- even unsettling -- to the people around you, you've been that you're doing something wrong and told you must decide on one path.

But this advice has been a big mistake. You've been misdiagnosed. You're not a failed specialist, you're a different creature altogether.

New York Times best-selling author Barbara Sher wants you to know that what assumed is a disability to be overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift. In this life-changing book, she'll show you how to put your remarkable, multitalented brain to work in a world that's never understood who you are. With insight, tools, and step-by-step plans to put all your interests into action, Sher will teach you:

  • What's behind your "hit-and-run obsessions" (There's a good reason for them!)
  • When (and how) to finish what you start
  • How to do everything you love
  • What type of Scanner you are (and which tools you need to do your very best work

Using her latest discoveries about Scanners, Barbara has seen remarkable transformations in clients, readers, and workshop participants. "I felt hopeless," people say, "buy you helped me take back my life."

Experience this transformation for yourself. Live your life on your own terms, do everything you love, freely, with passion, purpose, and real results. REFUSE TO CHOOSE!

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Refuse to Choose! : A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love
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