For many of us there is a very high bar either set by ourselves or by our employer. For our type of job great things are inherently expected. If you are able to exceed your own expectations then you may be an exceptional DBA. I don’t think that you necessarily need to exceed your own expectations though. For this type of award, I think meeting your own expectations or coming close may be just what is necessary. Another measure might be to determine if you are doing any better at your job this year than you were last year.
Even if you do not feel you may be an exceptional DBA, what are you doing in your job right now that is helping to save the business some money? What are you doing to make it appear as if all is running smoothly? What are you doing outside of your job to contribute to the SQL community? Those are just a few things to ponder in regards to whether or not you may be an exceptional DBA whether or not you are nominated for this award.
If you know somebody, nominate them. If you think you are an exceptional DBA it is up to you to determine whether you want to self-nominate or not. If you are doing your job with high efficiency, it is in part your responsibility to make sure somebody knows what you are doing.
As far as the award goes: some think it may be a bit arrogant to self-nominate. That is not entirely true – though don’t dismiss it either. As I said, you do need to let somebody know what you are doing and that you are doing it well – tactfully. If you do nominate yourself for this award, you still have to be reviewed by the panel of judges and they have the final say on who is the recipient of the award. In the end, it really is your peers that say whether or not you are exceptional, with regards to this award.