Exemplary Failure

A while ago I saw Rob McKenzie doing something in the Midwest Judges Facebook group that I really liked: he would share Exemplar recommendations that were especially meaningful, well-written, or otherwise, well, exemplary. I liked it so much that I decided to steal the idea for the Northeast’s Facebook group (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all).

Last week, I posted the following:

“It’s Wednesday! Here’s an Exemplar recommendation to get you through those hump day blues.

This recognition comes from L4 Sean Catanese, who wrote this recommendation of Yoni Kamensky:

You’ve sought opportunities to bring the community together around things that aren’t just Magic, such as the Jewish Magic Judges group. That’s the kind of thing that builds meaningful connections that make a team work better in an event, too. You’ve also asked for help when you need it. That takes courage and vulnerability, and I appreciate the trust you place in all of us for that.

Odd as it may sound, judging involves many risks. What if I make a wrong ruling? What if I don’t do well as a team lead or team member? What if I start a project and it doesn’t succeed? What if I fail?

The answer to all of these questions is not “become a better judge”; the answer is never “just don’t fail,” because we will all fail at some point. The true answer lies in the people who pick us up; the solution is found in the relationships we build to support us.

Yoni, thanks for highlighting an area of judging that is often uncomfortable to discuss, but is nonetheless critical to our health and happiness.”

Judging is, has been, and continues to be a wonderful experience for me. I love the community of judges and players, I love taking rulings at events, I love helping a tournament run so smoothly that it hums.

But judging is also, oftentimes, very stressful. Learning how to minimize, harness, and understand that stress is a critical part of becoming a better judge. But it’s impossible to do away with stress entirely. The very nature of the judge program, let alone human nature, lends itself to putting ourselves in situations that we don’t totally know how to handle. This expresses itself on numerous levels, from the micro level of individual rulings and specific leadership positions, to the macro level of trying to organize totally crazy things like Grand Prix Las Vegas.

Judging is stressful for me, too. But that’s OK. I do not believe it is realistic, or even desirable, to live a life totally without stress. What matters is what why that stress exists, and we do about it. If the stress is simply too much, we have to recognize that, and make a change.

As you’ve likely noticed, Bearz Repeating did not update last week.

I’ll be more specific: I didn’t update Bearz Repeating. I failed in my goal of posting every week. And while that’s frustrating, it was also a learning experience. It made me realize that working on my posts earlier in the week, or even weeks in advance, isn’t just a good idea or a nice stretch goal, but a necessity. I’ve known this for a long time, but it took something breaking to make me actually realize it.

Sometimes we fail. It’s not pretty, and it can be painful. But it is a part of life, and it would be foolish or worse to ignore that. What matters is whether we get back up, and the steps we take to move forward. Thanks to those who have supported me throughout my adventure with Bearz Repeating, and for your encouragement and understanding. I’m incredibly grateful to have friends like all of you.

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