The Creative’s Tale: A Self Review in Epic Form

For most people, doing a self review in preparation for the dreaded “annual review” can be a chore left on the bottom of most “to-do” lists. They’re often tedious, boring, and riddled with copy and paste bullet lists from job descriptions. So this year, I opted to change things up a bit. Here is my self-review for 2017 that I actually turned in to my employer.

I had only one guideline: I had to address the following questions regarding the six goals I had established at the beginning of the year:

  • What did I do well?
  • What could I improve on?
  • How did I demonstrate clear, open communication and transparency with my manager and my team members, both within my immediate team and across the organization?
  • How can I improve?
  • Did I make the expected progress toward achieving my professional and personal goals?
  • What can [my employer or my manager] do to help me achieve my professional and personal goals?

Looking back at my year, I realized it was pretty epic in both ups and downs, so….I decided to write an epic tale – and then analyze it. What you’re about to read is my entire self review; the opinions and perspectives are mine alone (and may be admittedly biased or misguided) and in no way represent those of my employer. (For the record, my Director loved this.)

Fair warning: this is what happens when you tell an extreme creative like me there’s only one guideline to do something. Enjoy.

[Storyteller] “Sit, my child, and I will share with you a tale. A tale of woes and thrills the likes of which you’ve never know.”

[Bored Audience] “Um, ‘woes and thrills’? Being a little expansive there with your description, aren’t you?”

[Storyteller] “Who’s telling the tale, me or you? Let me have my fun, since real life tends to suck it all out of us from time to time.”

[Bored Audience] “Fair point. Proceed.”

[Storyteller] “As I was saying… Our tale begins in the dead of winter-well, actually, it wasn’t that terrible in 2017. Cold snaps and all, sure, but–”

[Bored Audience] “Hey man, I don’t have time for weather reports here.”

[Storyteller] “Right, sorry. So anyway, our hero was made aware of six deadly dragons he would have to slay over the course of the year. So it had been decreed by Those On High, so it would have to be done. Vast amounts of treasure, acclaim, and power awaited at the end of this epic quest, the likes of which he had previously unknown.

“Our adventurer set out to slay the smallest of the beasts, known as the Style Guide–”

[Bored Audience] “That’s a stupid name.”

[Storyteller] “Who’s telling this story? I can name it whatever I want, so shut it.”

[Bored Audience] “As you wish.”

[Storyteller] “–Style Guide. It was a small beast but had its tentacles throughout the land. Mastering this monster would go long towards bringing harmony to the land.

“Our hero faced this foe in a showdown that, well, actually, fell kind of flat. He bruised it up some but ultimately, the beast fled into the tunnels under the kingdom. The killing blow was never struck, though our hero still retained his outline to bring about its submission.

[Bored Audience] “So he couldn’t even beat up a small beastie?”

[Storyteller] “Well, it’s not that he couldn’t beat it up. It’s that when it came down to executing that final blow, the other five dragons took flight and overshadowed the land with fire and chaos. He had no choice but to let it go so he could bring low the other, more pressing threats.”

[Bored Audience] “Ah, okay. So priorities, then.”

“Having a GIF generator on hand would also help greatly. Someone should invent that.”

[Storyteller] “Right. Anyway, he turned to face down the biggest beast, Conference Support. A three-headed monster, it threatened overwhelming violence at every turn. Every time he thought the beast contained, it would throw another rock at him. Or it would retreat, pretending to back off, while another dragon swooped in from the side and change his focus.

“Our sly adventurer was used to such tactics, however, and masterfully danced between the seemingly coordinated attacks, often fighting off two of the dragons at the same time.

“The easiest beast to conquer was Professional Develo–”

[Bored Audience] “Seriously, you need to be better at naming these things.”

[Storyteller] “–pment. The fighter quickly declawed it with a successful submission and presentation of skill. He then unfurled several banners on its body, each an entreaty of an organizational event: Great Ideas, CMWorld, Serious Play, and ASAE’s Communications Council.”

[Bored Audience] “So what you’re saying is he used those four organizational events to slay the monster.”

[Storyteller] “Well, yes.”

[Bored Audience] “Ok. Just so we’re clear. Continue, please.”

[Storyteller] “Don’t be snarky.

“The next dragon to fall was named Network, which dropped quickly as our hero had help from his squire, Riella of Gabe. She was then sent on to ferret out the elusive Style Guide, but ultimately to no successful avail.

“Two monsters then struck as Conference Support regained its footing: Internal Leadership and Content Quality Control. Both dealt heavy damage to our exhausted adventurer. Internal fell after some strong counters, but our hero wielded the swords Web Team and Outreach with skill while sneaking in attacks with the dagger I Am IH.

“Content Quality proved more difficult, as it launched assault after assault at the most inopportune times when our heroic fighter battled Conference Support. Some attacks got through, wounding our hero, but he was able to rectify these assaults with his own pushback, ultimately training Riella to strike using Point of Share. Sadly, his arrows of Audit and SEO failed to manifest, prolonging the beast’s assault. However, it finally fell with a crash just before Internal Leadership pressed into its final attack.

[Bored Audience] “You need some serious education in how to name things, old man.”

[Storyteller] “And you youngins’ need to learn to keep your trap shut when you’re told.

“As I was saying, Internal Leadership was a multi-headed terror, taking a lot of our hero’s time and attention. But ultimately, with some critical assistance from Riella, it was vanquished.

“He … made several valuable allies for the kingdom that will do well as a boon for years to come, as well as bringing back more than 10 Trophies of Victory.”

“However, rumor of its spawn has arisen, and even now our hero prepares once more for what is now becoming a yearly assault.”

[Bored Audience] “So all this guy did was fight the whole year?”

[Storyteller] “Erm, not entirely. I left out his periodic quests that resulted in riches for the kingdom and additional weapons for future encounters. Such as the Documentary Quest, the Journey into Comic Lore, the risky Path of Gamification, and the dreaded Storm of ACGI. But he was successful in all of these endeavors, and made several valuable allies for the kingdom that will do well as a boon for years to come, as well as bringing back more than 10 Trophies of Victory.”

[Bored Audience] “I see. Sounds exhausting, to be honest.”

[Storyteller] “Completely. Unfortunately, the kingdom is strapped and cannot provide additional help for our hero and his squire. They are fortunate to have a close alliance with Ifer of Jenn and exceptional leadership from the Duchess Sue. But we do fear for all of their health in the coming year if help cannot be secured. The kingdom may well languish under new terrors and unable to secure true freedom.

“But that is a tale for another time.”

[Analyst] “So we look at the above tale and wonder how our hero could have done better. And after extensive, exhaustive analysis with multiple charts, graphs, and cookies, we found that…

“Well, we found that unless he somehow cloned himself like Michael Keaton did in that Multiplicity movie, there’s not a whole lot more our hero could have done.

“Sure, some better organization would have helped, but one does begin to wonder if perhaps there is truth to his claims that there is simply too many monsters to slay and not enough time to slay them in. Certainly his Unanet Adventure Logs indicate a slavish dedication to adventuring that may border on unhealthy…

“After examining this hero’s antics over the last year, I’m certain he had no problem communicating to others. It’s very possible, however, that the extreme quests he was engaged in did vex him so to the point he may have been a bit snappy with some people.

“Improvement suggestions, should I dare make any to such a lofty personage, would be for our hero to slow down and be more concise. And probably compassionate.

“Having a GIF generator on hand would also help greatly. Someone should invent that.

“According to the historical record we have on hand, it’s apparent that while not all of the dragons were slain, they were at least severely wounded.

“Additional help in the form of minions or supportive allies would do well to help protect the realm from attack and provide our hero and his companions the boon to expand the kingdom’s reach and power.

“I think this hero needs sleep, support, and riches – all are exceptional incentives for better career aspirations within the realm. Otherwise, the hero may consider wandering the highlands in search of brighter, shinier things.”

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