I have a program on my computer which, each day, scans the system. It lets me know by way of a smiley or frowning face icon whether my PC is working well. Because it is automated to scan every day, my computer is usually in good shape.
Leaders who wish to be effective and stay healthy and happy should use the discipline of a daily scan habit. This is not something that can run automatically – you have to be part of the practice. With a new year on the horizon, this is one new habit you may decide to take on in 2014.
Here are instructions for a Daily Leader Scan. This is a reflective practice that you can do for 5-10 minutes each day. The conscious scanning of your inner and outer world allows you to make a quick fix in your actions and intentions.
§ Look at your calendar or plans for the day – and then in the context of the week.
§ Sit still and ensure that your eyes can rest on something that is unmoving and not distracting. You might sit with your feet solid on the floor, your hands resting on your lap or desk, and your eyes lowered to an empty spot on the floor.
§ Scan your physical body. Notice any tension or upset (check stomach and shoulders for tightness). Notice your energetic mood – elevated or depressed. Are you hungry, thirsty, tired? What does your body need right now?
§ Scan your inner thoughts. What are you thinking and feeling about the day? Weigh what you are excited about and what you dread. Notice what attracts you and what repels you. Consider that this day is unique and new. What does your soul need right now?
§ Scan your relationships. Who are you going to interact with today? Think about what is important to those on the other side of the table. Consider today from their perspectives and interests. What does your community need right now?
§ Finally, scan the bigger picture. In your mind, move up and up from the details of your day until you feel the larger story of your life. What has brought you to today and what is holding you here now? Consider the impact today makes in the long term. What do you need to include right now?
This practice was inspired by the “quad scan” in the book Integral Life Practice from Ken Wilber et al, 2008.