Character Improvement Kata

One fundamental principle for improving our results in doing stuff – manufacturing, providing services, our golf game, etc. – is to develop a standardized way to act every time. Doing so provides us a foundation to see and overcome the obstacles to our expected results. And this resulting “best-known way” creates a second foundation to train others effectively.

There are also standard approaches to finding and overcoming the obstacles blocking the path to our next performance level. The Improvement Kata (Toyota Kata) is currently in vogue and very useful. Basically, it is a practice routine to develop scientific thinking skills by building upon our unique human nature to reason. Scientific thinking is the nucleus of my coaching of improvement.

However, when it comes to pursuing our better self by improving our character and, in turn, a better society, I felt a need to dig a little deeper. I wanted to define a kata, or form, for practicing living the good life—a life of virtue.

Preferring visual representations of thought, I created the graphic below. It combines my center of coaching improvement, scientific thinking with my recent study and practice of Epictetian (Stoic) philosophy.

Now, how about a brief introduction1 to the pieces or my Character Improvement (CI) Kata...


My CI Kata comprises four circles of action resting upon a foundation of aspired purpose based upon virtues.

My purpose, Pursue Better for the Highest Good, is all about striving to be virtuous rather than vicious in the numerous roles we perform in life, with the number one role being a good human. The four cardinal virtues, Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance, as icons, surround the purpose to provide context for pursuing a better self. And all in support of the betterment of society.

Humans are unique in respect to the rest of our natural world. We are all gifted to ask why or how and apply reason to solve problems to better ourselves and the world. Individually free and equal to pursue truth and wisdom without interference from or interfering with others. Respect for People represents this truth, the bedrock supporting my purpose.

Lastly, the four circles of action form the continuous deep practice to move forward along the journey. In general... 1. Observe Impressions – observe, become mindful, and apply reason to how one reacts or judges the many impressions on the day. 2. What's in My Control? – we only have control of our mind (judgment) and actions. Apply this as a means to sort observed impressions. 3. Apply 3 Disciplines – follow the Epictetian disciplines of Desire, Action, and Assent, to focus on what is in our control, act properly towards ourselves and others, and arrive at the best judgments that we can. 4. Daily Reflection – daily, reflect and write down what went well, what didn't, what one learned, and what one will do next to improve.

Altogether, my graphic provides me a powerful reminder and a standard approach for improving my character towards living a good and happy life.

1Further details will be provided in subsequent articles.