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5th MVP Award -- Thanks!

I was included in a very happy group of developers that yesterday was awarded (or re-awarded -- is that a word?) Microsoft MVP in their area of expertise. In my case, it was a re-award. My first was in 2007, so this is my 4th re-award. I'd like to take space in my blog to personally thank my Lead, Allen Li, and the folks on the Silverlight team for once again including me in the list with the cool kids. Also the Silverlight team for their steadfast support of the MVPs by keeping us in the loop.

Re-awards happen quarterly beginning with January 1. This is to keep from overloading the MVP Leads by doing the selection/investigation all at once. I know that quarterly when all the congratulatory notes go out, the Twitterverse buzzes with questions about how to become an MVP, what's the process, etc. I've blogged about this once before, but the question comes up enough that I thought I'd do it again.

Being re-awarded is only slightly easier than being awarded the first time. I liken it to playing 1st chair French horn in the symphony orchestra. Just because you're first chair this season doesn't mean you will be next season. You still have to try out. You have an 'in' because the conductor already knows you, but that's about it. In one manner or another, all the MVPs have to submit information about what they've been doing for the last year to be considered for renewal. For me, that starts when the April 1 awardees get their notices. I dread that happening because I know soon I will get my email asking me for the big list-o-stuff :) Where did you speak, what articles/books have you written, what blogs do you frequently answer questions at, etc.

I think it's a fair question when someone asks "what do I need to do to become an MVP"? It might not be the right question, but from the non-MVP there's no way to know that. MVPs get awarded for their service to the community of developers in their area of expertise. Speaking at user groups, code camps, and conferences is good. Blogging about the technology is good. All these things are good to 'become an MVP'... but remember I said it's not the 'right' question.

One way to look at it is this... do you really think that (pick an MVP) would stop speaking, blogging, writing books, or whatever they're doing if they lost their MVP? I can't think of one of my MVP friends that would do that. MVP or not, it's what they do... it's their personality, it's who they are. They became an MVP because of that, not the other way around.

The other way to look at it is... what if you did speak everywhere possible, write a ton of blog posts, or whatever to specifically become an MVP, and it worked? Would you still have the incentive to continue to do all those things? Maybe... maybe you'd find you enjoy mentoring, teaching, and helping others and that would be a good thing. But if you found yourself doing those things just to maintain your MVP, then it's a job... and that's not what it's about.

I used to play guitar for a living, then I played for relaxation. I don't do that much anymore. I could, but it would take time away from blogging. Is that bad? It's not a conscious thought on my part, I'll say that. It's just something I realized at some point. I also don't go out for 100 mile rides on my road bike anymore... but again that was not a hard and fast decision I made, it just worked out that way.

I'm not saying that your life has to change when you become an MVP... I'm saying you're life is already in that mode and that's why you got awarded. If you want to spend 3 hours a night playing guitar... more power to you... contact me and I'll give you some pointers. But there's no MVP for guitar. There's no MVP for playing XBOX games, Minecraft, or WOW either, but having to 'make a decision' to stop doing something isn't the point. The point is having the drive and determination to be out on the pointy end of the technology, to be willing to put in the extra hours, to help other folks learn it. If that's where your passion lies, keep at it, let your local DE know about it, blog about it, get yourself some visibility.

Congratulations to all the new and renewed MVPs ... it's a fun ride... here's to another year!

Published at DZone with permission of Dave Campbell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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