Dealing With Failures, Part Two

Olá a todos! (Hello, everyone!)

In the first part, we got to learn a little bit more about failures: what they are, where they live, what they eat. Jokes aside, we spoke a bit about personal experiences and the impact it has on ourselves, our team, and ultimately our event and our customers – the players.

In this part, we’ll talk a bit more on how to approach and tame the effects of failure. As I said before, failure always has a negative impact. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be recovered from and fixed.

Take responsibility for the failure

Before we can fix something, we need to recognize that we made a mistake. We remember that, more often than not, our justifications won’t do much of anything for the injured party; many times, as well, they seem like excuses. At the end of the day, the players want to have a good day playing Magic, and the staff wants the tournament to run well. Conversations and outbursts are very useful, but there is another, proper time for that.

We also understand that acknowledging the failure goes farther than a simple, “Okay, I messed up, let’s move on.” For us to be able to accept an error, we need to understand it. What caused the error? Why did I decide to make the decision that I did? Once we have this understanding, it becomes much simpler to admit our part in the situation.

The phrase, “owning your failures” is meant to be literal. Though it may seem a bit strange, taking ownership gives us control of them, not the other way around. If the failure controls us, it will probably come back to haunt us. When we maintain control, we overcome our failures and can use them as a means of improving ourselves.

Understanding your Limitations

First of all, we will begin with the obvious: a judge who doesn’t prepare for an event limits themselves. When are accepted to staff an event, we affirm that we will be as prepared as possible to give the desired level of performance. Consequently, if we don’t study the rules, philosophy, and format for the event, we are leaving ourselves open to making mistakes.  Therefore, remember that the person who can most help you to avoid failure is you. We study, chat, and learn as preparation so that the knowledge we need is there when we need it. It’s no use for us to be doing well in life, to be well fed, and having a good night’s sleep if, at the end of the day we haven’t studied anything, nor went out in search of the necessary knowledge.

Imagine if I agreed to judge a tournament in two months, which is about the notice that a judge will be given before working an event. A week before the event, my life takes a disappointing turn, with a number of unfortunate events occurring and I’m in the process of reorganizing everything. Would it be up to me to determine if I was in the condition to judge? More than that, should it be me who gets to make the determination of my emotional state, evaluating if I get to deal with a conflict between players, or with a member of the team?

Despite the fact that the program is all voluntary, we live in a very different situation: Tournament Organizers offer us payment and obviously want excellent performances. Our role at an event is much more like a consultant or specialist, who understands not just the rules of Magic, but also customer service and diplomacy. In the previous scenario, imagine that I went to work stressed, full of raw nerves. During a discussion with a colleague, who disagrees with me in a way I find offensive and, without even noticing, I start raising my voice to them, aggressively and inappropriately. It’s already bad enough that I am aggressive with someone, but worse for the work environment. It wouldn’t be a surprise if I were suspended, or even dismissed, right?

Is this to say, then, that we can’t have problems, or make mistakes? Not exactly. Some behaviors are unwanted and unacceptable while judging Magic, just like they would be in any work environment. The difference is that the program is structured in a way that, if a judge needs help, we can get it without much difficulty, in person or online. I’ve already had cases where a judge had a problem at an event and sent me a Facebook message asking for support. I remember that everything turned out okay for her.

The Judge Program in Brazil is especially effective for this. Despite the huge size of our country, the community is considered small, which lends itself to the idea that “everyone knows everyone”, letting a new judge meet the pillars of their community easily, many times, meeting many of us before even being certified officially. While I am not fully familiar with the structure in other countries, I’ve found help and support from the Judge Program wherever I was. I could always rely on my peers to recover and continue to be excellent for my players and my team.

Now that we’ve learned a bit more on how to deal with our failures, what do we do with it? Throwing our head back and continuing doesn’t seem the optimal choice. So, in the last part, we’ll talk on what do we do with this failure – after all, it is an experience like any other – and how we use that for our improvement.

Translated from Portuguese by Riva Arecol

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