According to Merriam-Webster the definition of grace is:
1a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; b : a virtue coming from God; c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace; 2a : approval, favor <stayed in his good graces>; b archaic : mercy, pardon; c : a special favor : privilege <each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling>; d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; e : a temporary exemption : reprieve; 3a : a charming or attractive trait or characteristic…
That’s quite a lengthy definition; in fact, I captured less than half of what was in the dictionary. It seems like a lot of words to describe something so simple.
So what does grace have to do with a blog about SQL Server? Quite a lot actually.
When I first went to college, I wanted to be a teacher; in fact, I wanted to be a math teacher. I had this great math teacher who inspired me in high school. He was not only brilliant, but he was infectious with his desire for learning. He was a young guy, I think it was his first teaching job, but you could tell that teaching was what he was meant to do. He would explain things in a way that made sense (that’s a gift when teaching high school sophomores abstract algebra). If he could see that the class was completely lost, he would change mid stride and go a completely different direction. I don’t think a single person failed that class, he wouldn’t let them. He was the definition of grace, “..disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency…a charming or attractive trait or characteristic”.
There was another math teacher in my high school. He was old (probably forty or something crazy like that) and a bit pompous; he had the letters “PhD” behind his name. His attitude was that he had the credentials, so if you didn’t understand what he was talking about, maybe you didn’t belong in abstract algebra. He also had a reserved parking space close the entrance, because he had those three little letters after his name, “PhD”. He was the exact opposite of grace and almost half his class failed.
The point I’m trying to make is that for some people, their driving force is ego, not love of learning and therefore they have no grace.
I recently attended the SQL Saturday event in Atlanta. I love these events because they are so personal. You have smaller classes and you can actually interact with the presenters and most of them are just like you and me, regular people. However, in Atlanta I noticed a very disheartening trend. Ego is taking hold and grace is losing ground.
I am not a speaker and I never will be. I have a horrible phobia of public speaking (which is the reason I didn’t become a teacher). But I want to give back to the community that has helped me get where I am today, so I volunteer behind the scenes for many things. Atlanta was no different. I was attending, but I was also a volunteer. There were some great nationally and internationally known speakers presenting, in addition to the local and regional people and it was so exciting to be part of the largest SQL Saturday event to date. As it turns out, it was probably the most disappointing PASS event I’d attended to date. Not because I was disappointed in the content of the sessions I attended or even in the speakers that presented them, but because there were many other speakers who seem to have lost their grace.
I’m not going to give specific examples or name names (that just elicits finger pointing). But what I am going to do is ask you, as a speaker, why do you do it? Is it because you have those three little letters, “MVP”, after your name or is because you want to share your knowledge and inspire others to learn more? If it’s the latter, I applaud you and ask that you keep on doing what you are doing. We in the community appreciate all your hard work and your generosity in sharing. If it’s the former then I might suggest you try to save grace and have a slice of humble pie, it never hurt anyone.