Edit: someone pointed me in the direction of a another great article on failure written by Riki Hayashi that was posted on Paul Barany’s
Folks, I did it.
I did it, I did it, I did it.
I, finally, passed my L2 test and now have the honor and privilege of calling myself a Level 2 judge.
A lot of the experiences I have posted about in this past year have been the stumbles and downright failures I have made along this wide and varied journey. Some people may think that by focusing on the challenges means looking at my journey through a negative lens but I would have to vehemently disagree. In those missteps, in those frustrations, in those moments of embarrassment and frustration and anger, I discovered my drive and passion for this program and for my personal journey through it.
That’s not to say that I should completely ignore the good experiences, for there I often found reprieves and joys that helped me recharge so that I could keep moving. But if you ignore the challenges you also ignore the growth that’s been made and to do that would be not only a disservice to myself and my unwillingness to be beaten but also to the friends and mentors that have helped me along the way.
I, personally, think that in the Judge Program (and honestly in a lot of aspects of life) we don’t talk about failure enough. Today, the Feedback Loop posted an excellent article written by Erik Aliff about his failed Level 3 Panel. Scott Marshall faced a combat call that ended with a mistaken ruling on coverage for GP Denver (December 2016) and posted his apology to the player in question once the event was over.
Besides these two awesome examples of publicly shared stumbles, you’ll be hard pressed to find more examples of judges sharing items in this way. (At least, I was.) It also seems that I’m not the only one to notice the deficiency.
I was recently the recipient of an Exemplar Recognition for my post on the IQ where tough player interactions caused me to have a bad day. I won’t quote the entirety of his words, but Arthur Halavais penned some strong thoughts that I believe will stick with me for a long time to come:
“Often, judges feel that they need to appear invulnerable while they judge, and are unwilling to ask for help, either with the event or with themselves. You bucked this trend by being willing to talk about your frustrations and ask for support from the community. Next, you took the opportunity to write a blog post about the day. While you had the option to minimize the poor encounters and talk about positive parts of the event, you fearlessly tackled a topic that was still hard to write about, and in doing so you focused on the opportunity to use your negative experience as a chance to teach other judges and to help them grow.”
First of all, holy cow can this guy write! Secondly, this struck a chord with me and reaffirmed my motivation for keeping this blog.
Look, I get why admitting mistakes can be so hard. There is such a large stigma attached to failure. In the Judge Program, it can often feel like one mistake will mean the difference between being staffed for an event or never working again, and in the future world of one Tournament Organizer Grand Prixs, or viral and heinous Reddit threads, for example, it seems understandable but feeling as if perfection is the only way forward is damaging not only to yourself but the Program as a whole. No one can be, or should expect to be, perfect. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t strive for excellence and push to be the best you can be, but to expect perfection of yourself, and by association your colleagues, is not feasible.
I’m also not saying that your only focus should only be on the negatives. That also doesn’t do anyone any good. Instead look for and strike a balance between the good and the bad.
My background in education has been nothing but a boon to me in the judge program, and one of the first things they teach you when you learn the fundamentals of education is that students will learn the most when first faced with failure. When we choose to ignore the mistakes we make we are removing ourselves from potential learning experiences.
I almost stopped after I failed my L2 test for the second time because I was simply not used to the hardship that can come with wanting something that hinges on academic knowledge and missing the mark not once, but twice. If I kept going, I was going to have to acknowledge the fact I wasn’t quite good enough a second time and frankly, self reflection is one of the hardest things a person can face.
Passing the Level 2 test was hard. Facing my faults and not quitting was harder.
As a final note, I beseech those of you reading this that if you take away only one thing from this post, it be this: embrace failures the same why you embrace successes and there is nothing you can’t do in the Judge Program or in life.