Taking Selfies – Part Two

Angela AliffThis month’s contribution to the Self-Review Series comes from the editor’s desk. Thanks, Riki, for letting me jump in.

Self-reviews are pointless. They take too much time. They’re redundant.

Part One of this series is meant to convince you otherwise. All the same, Riki and I have recently asked a number of judges why they don’t write self-reviews, and those responses are the most common. Today, I want to posit my own theory on why self-reviews are written so rarely:

Self-reviews are uncomfortable.

To an extent, we’re all aware of our flaws. Sometimes vaguely and dismissively aware. Sometimes acutely and painfully aware. Externalizing that awareness to the point of recording it and sharing it? Uncomfortable.

Here’s the thing, though: if you’re reading this post, there’s a strong likelihood that you care about feedback, that you’re invested in the judge community. You’ve written reviews, or at least you plan to write reviews, because you believe in their power to make the judge community better, one interaction at a time.

As a result, you’ve likely been practicing empathy, the ability to share in another person’s experience. To give good feedback, you’ve listened and observed. You’ve taken notes. You’ve checked yourself with reminders that people are complex and that you rarely have the full picture. And, acknowledging the ever-present possibility for error, you’re willing to adjust your feedback based on your one-on-one conversation with the judge you’re reviewing.

Have you taken the time to do this for yourself?

Be honest, have you ever been wrong about yourself? Have you ever believed something about yourself that was not true? Self-evaluations are a second, more sustained look at yourself. A chance to check those assumptions that are sometimes wrong.

I get it. You have limited time. You go to an event, you take notes on your interactions, you learn something new about a card interaction or observe a new strategy for leading the paper team. Great! You learned a thing about judging. But what did you learn about yourself?

Self-evaluation requires awareness. Specifically, bringing your awareness to your current experiences and the ways you process them. Identifying what makes your perspective distinct from other perspectives. Connecting your experiences with other experiences you’ve had to help you make sense of them. Those connections are often your best indicators of how you’ve developed as a person.

An event places too many demands on your attention to give you the space for this kind of reflection. You’ve got to make time for it afterwards. Writing a self-review is one tangible way of making time for this important process. And the benefits, which are many, include the following:

  1. an improved ability to articulate what you contribute to the judge program.

We don’t all share one generic skill set. You are not the same as the judge standing next to you. You don’t think the same way. You have different ideas. What do your natural abilities, along with the skills you’ve worked to improve, contribute to an event?

Side Benefit: Better cover letters.

  1. a metric for tracking personal growth and progress meeting goals.

This practice gives you tangible evidence to point to when you make the case that you’re ready for a more challenging role in an event or advancement in the program.

Side Benefit: Better cover letters.

  1. a chance to tell your own story.

Will you make mistakes? Of course. But self-evaluation is the place to put those mistakes in the context of your ongoing development as a judge. A mistake isn’t the end of the story; it’s the start of a new chapter.

Side Benefit: An additional chance to persuade the people who read your cover letters.

  1. a better mindset for reviewing other judges.

Remember that discomfort at recording your own weaknesses? Good! That’s how your reviewees feel when you submit constructive criticism of them. Self-reviews are a reminder of how much we all crave tolerance of our weaknesses and recognition for our strengths. Tap into that empathy when you submit reviews of your colleagues.

Side Benefit: Better cover letters. (This time written by the judges you’ve invested in!)

Hopefully I haven’t overemphasized the tangential relationship between self-evaluation and cover letters. Instead, I hope I’ve made the point that while there is a good dose of idealism in my reasons for self-evaluation, there is also a distinctly practical side to self-reviews. They will make you a better judge.

Enough of my perspective for now; I’d love to hear from you.
Comment below, or message me on JudgeApps.

What other benefits of self-reviews would you add to my list?
How has a self-review (or the habit of self-reviewing) changed you as a judge?
Maybe you’re still skeptical. What’s holding you back from a self-review?


7 thoughts on “Taking Selfies – Part Two

    1. I personally aim to write a self review at a larger event where I either Team Lead or any where I learn something significant that I want to document. Because self reviews end up as a written record I like to look back at places where I haven’t done the best, be honest with myself, and give myself a goal for how to improve. That way next time I write a self review, I can read back on the previous ones and objectively see if I am actually making the effort to improve.

      1. As Marcos mentioned, it seems like a number of judges aim to write self-reviews at large events, maybe every one or every few. What I particularly like about Marcos’s comment is the idea of tying self-reviews to goals.

        I think the frequency of self-reviews can and should be tied to goals. For example, if you’ve been judging frequent PPTQs and want to get accepted to more GPs, you might look ahead to next year’s GP schedule, target the GPs you hope to work, and then aim to write 3-4 self-reviews between now and then, spacing them out to give yourself time to work on targeted areas relevant to your goals and evaluate your progression. Your frequency might vary, dependent on your specific goals and the time it takes to achieve them.

        Does anyone have a good example of how you targeted a goal and used self-reviews to track your progress?

  1. Strong topic, well presented. Do you have plans at a future date to write an article that ties in the concept of how self reviews lead to better cover letters? I think that would be challenging to pull off well, but ultimately very rewarding.

    1. Charles, I hadn’t thought about it before, but now that you mention it, it seems like a good idea. Thanks for the suggestion! Would anyone else find this topic useful?

  2. The candor of recognizing one’s flaws can be really helpful. My 2014 and 2015 self-reviews each noted that I’d written fewer reviews than the year before. That has really helped me push myself this year to write at least one review for every event I’ve judged, and without those reminders, I doubt I’d have been successful at it, much less aware of that trend.

    1. Steven, it sounds like you might have a set of metrics that take note of each time you write a self-review. Are there any other details you’d recommend including in a yearly self-review for comparison over time?

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