Giving Back – Motivation Revelation


So this final stretch to the end of the year has been and is going to be a busy one, and with that, I was almost considering skipping this T-SQL Tuesday hosted by Wayne Sheffield (blog|twitter), but it was such a timely subject I decided to participate. If you don’t know what T-SQL Tuesday is, it’s a monthly blog party created by Adam Machanic (blog|twitter) and hosted each month by a different member of the community.

However, if you’re reading my blog, the odds are you know exactly what T-SQL Tuesday is. Nevertheless, you can click on the T-SQL Tuesday logo on this post or follow the #TSQL2sday hashtag to learn more. This month is T-SQL Tuesday #61 and the subject is “Giving Back.”

As I said earlier this is such a timely subject, not only because of the season, but because this is something I have been thinking about for a little while. Back when I first started as a Database Administrator three years ago, I was enamored with people such as Brent Ozar, Paul Randall, and other prominent people in the SQL community.

I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be as knowledgeable about SQL Server as they were and as well-known. I started learning all I could about SQL Server, participated in every way I could in the community and even thought about presenting. Although all of those things were good and have helped me tremendously in my career, something didn’t feel quite right.

In August, I decided to make a few changes in my life and began evaluating my motivation for doing things. In doing so, I realized that the reason I felt like things were not right was because my motivation was not right.

During this period of self-reflection, I was asked by a co-worker to deploy a stored procedure to production. As always, I opened up the deployment script and began reviewing it. It wasn’t a bad procedure, but it wasn’t quite as efficient as it could be, so I walked over to my co-worker’s office and began discussing the procedure. It was awesome to watch my co-worker light up as they began to understand why one way was more efficient than the other and how this simplified the code tremendously. I walked away from the experience feeling really good that I had helped someone improve his T-SQL abilities.

A few weeks later, I sat down with the development manager to discuss implementing a monthly lunch-n-learn over the next year. The development manager loved the idea, and so starting the first of the year, I will be leading a monthly lunch-n-learn program for our development team. I am both excited and nervous about this opportunity, but I look forward to the challenge. My hope is that at least one person each month will learn something of value.

I realize now that what makes the Brents and the Pauls of this community stand out is their motivation, which is not for self-promotion but to help others. I may never get to the knowledge and recognition level I once though was so important, and I’m okay with that. Now, I am simply content to be ready to help when and if an opportunity like the lunch-n-learns presents itself.


  1. Awww, thanks man.

    I don’t usually speak for Paul (cough) but I know him well enough to put these words in his mouth: the knowledge isn’t the reward. Helping other people get the knowledge, and seeing that light go off in their eyes, THAT is the reward. There’s nothing cooler than helping someone “get” a really challenging concept. I live for that. It sounds crazy, but the biggest reason I learn tough concepts is to help other people get them faster.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks for the comment, Brent! It means a lot. You definitely helped the light come on for me many times, especially in my first year as a DBA.

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