Creatures of Value

On Monday, I posted a guest article from Charles Featherer that talked, about other things, our values. As Charles succinctly states:

Values are our core beliefs. They come in the form of principles, standards, personal qualities, character traits, and ethical codes. They define who you are and to a greater extent, who you will be.

Charles’ post challenged me to think about my own values, especially the ones that I prize as a judge. After some reflection, here are mine.

Fairness: Promoting fair play is central to judging. Fairness means treating everyone without bias and trying to provide a level playing field for all.

Openness: I strive to make myself available to talk to virtually anyone about anything. In addition, I try to be forthright and honest with feedback and concerns.

Diplomacy: Knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.

Empathy: The ability to understand how others are feeling and what they’re going through.

Inclusion: All should feel welcome at Magic events and in the judge community. The world isn’t perfect, but our community can be better than the default world. We must strive to build a culture free from systematic biases or discrimination.

Fun: One of the major positive shifts in my judging career occurred when I started taking myself less seriously. I see judges as the stewards of our players’ experience, and that means helping them have a great time at every event. In the same way, I hope that every judge I work with enjoys having me on their team or their event.

Self-Improvement: I can always be better. I try to avoid complacency, and seek feedback wherever I go.

Mentorship: I want to help others be better. Through affirmation, advice, evaluation, and example, I try to improve those around me.

Integrity: Reliable, honest, trustworthy.

Kindness: I’d rather be warm than cold. Balancing my desire to be kind against my desire to be open is one of my greatest challenges when giving feedback to others. Ultimately, I now feel it’s kinder to be forthright, even if the truth is uncomfortable.

Community: At the end of the day, it’s about the people. I want the Judge Program to be a community people feel proud to be part of.

Although I am happy with this list, I feel it’s important to recognize that it does not capture all of my values, for at least three reasons:

First, this list of values captures a specific state of mind and a particular point in my life. With further reflection and observation, I could certainly extend (or perhaps even trim) this list.

Second, I have generally focused on values that I feel I am relatively good at putting into practice. I can think of other values that I prize highly, such as Balance and Timeliness, but which I am currently working to improve. As such, I have left them off this list (for now).

Third, although values are very personal, I believe other people can help us understand our own values. For example, contrasting how I spend my time against other judges is often illuminating. I don’t spend nearly as much time on reviews as Riki, as much as energy on policy as Abe, or as much thought on the rules as Nate. Moreover, other people have a knack for seeing things you don’t understand about yourself.

Ultimately, our values influence every aspect of our lives. They shape what do with our spare time, who our friends are, and how we are perceived by others. In the context of tournaments, our values will influence how we interact with players and our fellow judges, as well as what we prioritize in our down time. I believe it’s important to live an well-examined life for its own sake, but in this case, knowing your own values has very real ramifications in our daily lives as well!

If you haven’t already done so, I challenge you to spend a few minutes and write down your own judging values. If you’re comfortable doing so, share your list in the comments!