Lucky Number Seven?

It would be probably remiss for me not to post about my recent re-award for Microsoft Data Platform MVP this past week, especially given my renewed commitment to resume blogging. The last twelve months of the MVP contribution cycle (April 2021 to March 2022) represent the tail end of the COVID lockdowns which pretty much changed (temporarily or otherwise) the ways many of us contribute toward community activities and having been someone who first started travelling way back in 2010 in a bid to share my knowledge with others and learn in the process, it has been a particularly unusual (and at times enlightening) period.

When I first travelled to speak at SQLBits in York and attend PASS Summit in Seattle (both in 2010), and then six months later to present at PASS SQL Rally Orlando (2011), I don’t think I fully realised the extent of where all this would take me (both good and bad), but that would be enough content for another post! Over the years since those early beginnings, I would make (at minimum) three or more Transatlantic trips a year and travel to a large selection of European events. One year I even flew back and forth to the West Coast of the United States three times in a single month, and as crazy as it may seem, this was still all great fun (though expensive) adventure. By 2012 I was even hosting my own annual event, regular user group meetings, and many other community-focused activities.

However, it wasn’t until January 2016 that I finally received my first MVP Award from Microsoft, and by this stage, I had clearly been involved in contributing to community activities for almost seven years, personally felt like a veteran, and some of my friends and fellow speakers would often rib me about why I hadn’t been recognised yet. Not receiving an award during all those years could at times feel disappointing, but I was always adamant that I did these things to give back to the community, not for any recognition, and so onwards I went. *1

So by the time my MVP Award did finally land, it felt almost surreal, but from that day onwards, I have never once thought for a second that I was entitled to receiving it -nor that it was a certainty. Because of this (and no doubt a result of my ongoing imposter syndrome), I am really proud of the fact that I have managed to stay fully engaged with community efforts throughout the pandemic (albeit mostly virtual or remote activities). As such, I am delighted to be awarded my seventh MVP award from those lovely folks at Microsoft, and will of course keep doing my best to give back.

I guess the moral of the story is that there is always something you can contribute to others but you have to learn to adapt to your current situation or reality, and try to keep going. *2 Do not be afraid to try new things, and do not be afraid to fail once in a while. As the great Napoleon Hill once said “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit“. Therefore failure can be a positive learning experience if you treat it like that rather than something to be feared, so good luck with your own journey with the year ahead and keep on trucking!

*1 Receiving an MVP award is a mixture of hard work, commitment, resolve, and good luck. For every MVP there are hundreds (if not thousands) of people who have yet to be recognised, so the moral of the story is to give back to the community because you WANT to help others, and that this is the reward in itself – otherwise, you are doing so for all the wrong reasons and will probably end up disappointed.

*2 You are also entitled to give yourself a break once in a while to get your head straight or focus on personal matters, so please don’t beat yourself up over having “a rest”. Hopefully you will come back even stronger for doing so!