Taking Selfies – Part Four

RikiWelcome back to the thrilling conclusion of the self evaluation series. If you’re just joining me, be sure to go back to Parts One, Two, and Three. This week, as the second half of my advice on how to write your Level 3 Self Review, I’ll be covering the final five Qualities of a Premier Judge.


Grouped Qualities like this can be difficult to write about because they encompass related, yet different, aspects of you. In fact, this Quality used to be two separate ones with Maturity being paired with Attitude. My advice on these multi-pronged Qualities is to write about a paragraph or two about each sub-quality. If there’s some overlap, you can use that to segue between paragraphs.

For this section of the Self Review, I suggest thinking about Teamwork as how you work with other judges on events and projects. Diplomacy, on the other hand, is how you interact with the community, perhaps through social media or more official channels like JudgeApps. Diplomacy also covers your interactions with players and TOs, both at events and outside them.

Maturity is probably the most nebulous in this Quality. The difficulty in writing about maturity, as well as the rest of this Quality, has to do with examples. It’s easy to come up with examples of failed teamwork, diplomacy, or maturity. But in the absence of failure, it can be hard to articulate why you’re good or even great in this category. “I’m mature because I don’t have issues with anyone” isn’t a useful statement.

Exploring your own maturity can be difficult. We all want to think of ourselves as adult human beings. After some soul-searching of my own, I’ve decided that I need to be more outgoing and friendly at events. It’s not good enough that “quiet and mysterious are just the way I am.” For me to be a better judge, it’s important that other judges feel comfortable talking to me. Admitting this and forging a way forward have been an important step in my own search for maturity.

Snap Tip: Rather than try to find an overarching theme, write about Teamwork, Diplomacy, and Maturity as distinct subsections.


Magic tournaments are pretty stressful. You’re lying if you tell your panel that you’ve never felt the stress. This Quality asks how you actively manage that stress. It’s not enough to say, “I was at GP Vegas. That even was really stressful, and I survived.” You need to demonstrate that you can pinpoint the underlying causes of stress and respond with appropriate strategies for overcoming it.

Another difficulty in writing about Stress and Conflict Management is that you have to have experienced conflict. If you’ve come all this way in the judge program without conflict, this section of your Self Evaluation will be insufficient. I’ve seen my fair share of judges who might look adequate at conflict management, when in reality they avoid conflict.

Snap Tip: Stress and conflict management is active, not passive. Identify specific actions you’ve taken to manage stress and resolve conflict.


This might seem like yet another multi-pronged Quality, but these two words are actually synonyms. The Judge Program just likes to throw around the word Logistics like we’re the UPS.

With this Quality, my mantra that “existence does not equal experience” holds the most true. Writing that you’ve attended twenty GPs doesn’t provide any details about your strengths in Tournament Operations. To write this section successfully, you should describe more specific experiences in different roles and teams. Your examples will be particularly useful if you’ve managed especially challenging and complex roles like being Team Lead of Product Logistics at a Limited event or Side Events Lead at a Grand Prix.

It’s also important to cite evidence of success and excellence in those roles. Can you quote other people who witnessed said success? Do it! Reviews and Exemplars often make ideal support here. Heck, this type of evidence is great for any Quality! But it’s probably most relevant here since judging is fundamentally about events.

Snap Tip: Cite specific roles you’ve filled and evidence of corresponding successes from reviews and Exemplar nominations.


In theory, this Quality should be easy to write about. The official Level 3 Advancement Process states, “Level 3 Judges can describe the roles of Level 1, 2, and 3 judges and the qualities that make good judges at those levels.” So go and read those roles and qualities. Done. For a written Self Review, you could just regurgitate the facts on this page. Heck, if you’re lazy you could just copy/paste from it and use a thesaurus. (Don’t do this!)

In actuality, Program Construction and Philosophy is more difficult to write about than it appears. Many people don’t dig much deeper into this Quality than just memorizing the blurb about what L1s, 2s, and 3s do.

But philosophy is about the why. What are the reasons behind these level distinctions? Why has the program undergone various level redefinitions? Why did Levels 4 and 5 go away? The ability to think critically about these changes is important. It’s ok to disagree with changes, but you must be able to explain your disagreement.

Snap Tip: Go over what you’ve written, and delete every statement that has to do solely with facts. Instead, make sure that you are writing about underlying philosophy. Imagine that your audience keeps asking “why?”, and write your answers.


This is often the first Quality that people write about in their Self Reviews. It appears first on the list and is considered to be the most important. I’m writing about it last because it is the most complex Quality due to its breadth. It’s also the most difficult to nail down with objective measurements.

Here we have the ultimate in multi-quality prongs. Lumping Leadership, Presence, and Charisma together is like trying to watch all three Lord of the Rings movies in a row. Each one is already enough to fill you up; tackling all three at once is going to take some work.

I’ll begin by saying that Charisma is the most difficult of the three. Not only is it the most subjective, but also you are the least qualified to measure it in yourself. I recommend discussing Charisma with the people who surround you. Ask them to observe both you and others as they respond to you. For example, if you Head Judge a tournament and make announcements to the players, request feedback from other judges on your microphone charisma. If you lead a team meeting, ask one member in advance to pay attention to how you’re received.

To me, Presence is largely about what you do in the community. Do you participate meaningfully in JudgeApps discussions? Do you write articles or record podcasts? These communications can be indicators for community presence.

Of course, I don’t mean that you should discount presence at events altogether. Other people might disagree, but to me, event “presence” is more neatly bundled under the mantle of Leadership. The biggest problem that I see when judges write about event leadership is that they fall back on recounting the number of times they’ve led teams or head judged events. That’s really just the first part of the equation.

As I said in Tournament Operations and Logistics, you want to explain how you’ve achieved success and how you’ve displayed leadership. In fact, often online communications like blogging are a way of expanding your Leadership outside the event into an online Presence.

Snap Tip: Just breathe. If you get overwhelmed by the scope of this Quality, step away from writing for a day. Talk to people you trust about how you display these traits. Don’t give up.


Writing a self review isn’t easy. Writing the L3 Self Review has been cited as one of the most difficult things you can do as a judge. Some of the difficulty is by design: introspection, a necessary part of personal and professional growth, can be painful. But the Self Review can also look impossibly difficult because people envision it as one giant task.

Break this difficult task into manageable parts. Write about each Quality one at a time, and the process will look much more doable. In fact, you can further prepare for this challenge by regularly writing brief self reviews as updates after events. Choose one or two Quality per event to evaluate. Eventually, you’ll have a substantial stockpile of documentation to draw on when you prepare to advance.

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