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Join the Community - AKA, "Where did he go, George?"

In recent days I've kind of dropped off the map with respect to SQL Server, including with the Security and Auditing week for SQL University. For that one, I actually had a series planned that I never got to because of a death of a close family friend and then the backlog of things that resulted. As for the rest, it's been a mix of things, but the main one is that I've been focusing on ministry.

There simply isn't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. You could double the hours to 48 and there still probably wouldn't be enough hours in my day. I stay really busy. So I've made some hard choices recently, like cancelling out of Carolina Code Camp this coming weekend because of a ministry conflict. Most of my available hours, once you take out for work and for family, have gone to ministry. And not just youth ministry, which is my second "career" by some folks' definition, but whatever I feel called to jump into, which lately has been an awful lot. So why the post on the SQL Server blog?

I think it's because I got an email today from one of the members of our Midlands PASS Chapter. He wrote to apologize for not making it to many meetings. Turns out his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and they've been fighting it for about six months now. My response back to him was an immediate, "You don't need to apologize." But something in him felt the need. And that got me to thinking about our professional community and the IT profession in general.

The SQL Server community is a great one. I love being a part of it. And I have seen members of the community come together in amazing ways like with the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book or the outpouring of support and encouragement my wife and I received after the tragedy we faced last year. The catch is that the people of the community, not the technology, is what makes our community such an awesome one. I was explaining this to a developer friend a couple of weeks ago. I was pointing out that you can rub shoulders with some truly great folks in the SQL Server community and they are more than happy to help when they can. Egos are rare. Cooperation and collaboration are the norm. And we DBAs have this reputation for being stand-offish loners! When personal issues hit, folks are there, so it's not just about technology.

And along those lines, some of the best encouragement I've gotten with respect to ministry has come from the SQL Server community. It's not unusual to have a down day ministry wise, and I go to check my "professional" email and there is a letter from someone in the community asking how things are going. That lifts me right back up and gets me charging away again. Which yet again reminds me that our community is not just about the technology. It's about relationships, which is where my ministry has taken me recently, too.

So if you're reading this post and you are not active in our SQL Server community, let me encourage you to get started. There are some great folks out there whether on Twitter, in the forums, at SQL Saturdays and Code Camps, or at the PASS Community Summit itself. I think you'll find yourself building not just technical/professional relationships, but ones that go beyond that to a personal level. Don't believe me? Check out Sean McCown's post from 2008 upon learning of the death of the legendary Ken Henderson. Sean drove the point home when he wrote: "Ken, I don't know what to say brother... the community will miss your brilliant writing... but screw them. Those of us closer to you will miss YOU."

K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by Mike Walsh on 12 May 2010

Brian - you make some awesome points. I just don't see other technologies having the closeness, come togetherness and "we all make each other better" kind of attitude as the SQL Server "community". Some say there isn't just one community but several, and they are right but there is still a strong central core of people I look up to for both technical knowledge and leadership/integrity examples. The more I interact with the community the more I realize it is the latter that matters so much more. The skills and lessons are transferable to home, church and any career I decide to set myself down. People like you, with your ministry and the Goal Keeping DBA come to mind. People like Andy Leonard come to mind. This is why I enjoy going to SQL PASS Summit, the presentations are great but you can just order the DVD. It is the interaction with a lot of great, selfless people that makes it worthwhile.

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