I remember in the mid 2000s when I wanted to do enough to be recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Microsoft SQL Server. At that time I saw it as the “next level.” Folks I really respected were being named MVPs, folks I wanted to follow in the footsteps of, so naturally, I hoped one day to be an MVP as well.
At the time, though, I didn’t hold out much hope. My job as an infrastructure and security architect meant I had very little time for outside work, even writing a few articles here and there. I wasn’t working with SQL Server day in and day out. And while I was knee deep in Active Directory, I never felt like I had a familiarity enough with the community to dive in.
Then, in 2007-2008 I decided I really wanted to focus on SQL Server. I paid out of pocket for some opportunities to speak, reached out to friends in the community for opportunities to write more and do some training videos and commit to what I love to do: sharing about SQL Server and especially about security related to SQL Server. A friend thought I had done enough to warrant a look, nominated me for MVP, and in January 2009 I was awarded the recognition. And that’s when my journey really started.
Started? Yes, absolutely. Sebastian Marshall (blog | twitter) has a post about how he took himself off the list for those his age as far as what they had accomplished. He was in the top 1%. Instead, he put his name on the list of the greatest men of all time. That meant he was now at the very bottom. It is hard to think high and mighty of yourself when you are comparing yourself to Thomas Jefferson and Tokugawa Ieyasu. When I was awarded an MVP, I looked up and saw a bunch of luminaries whose work I’ve followed for years. While I was receiving the same award as they had, I was at the bottom of a new list. I won’t pretend I was at the top 1% of some previous list. Sebastian had something quantifiable to use as a measuring stick.
How do you measure knowledge in SQL Server? I don’t know. I just know that there are a lot of folks who are MVPs who dwarf my knowledge. Folks I still want to be like. Folks who I still look up to. So while I may be a SQL Server MVP, I still consider myself near the bottom of the list. One of the weakest names. Who do I place below me? No one in particular. I just hope I’ve made some progress on the list these last 3 years. It really doesn’t matter, because the past is past. There is still a long road ahead. I still have a lot to do and a lot to learn to be anywhere near where I want to be. This is what becoming an MVP meant to me: moving to the bottom of the list of some really awesome SQL Server people with the goal to work my way up by knowledge and experience.