It is July 1, 2014 and this is the first time for me that I have not been a Microsoft MVP since 2004. Since announcing that I was stepping away from community (user group) and the MVP and STEP programs I have been asked why a lot. While I think my previous blog post explains it pretty well I had some additional thoughts to share.
First, by stepping away what am I gaining???
I don't think people realize how much time I have spent on user group just looking for sponsors, speakers and coordinating events for regular monthly meetings never mind the occasional conference or one day event that was put on. Also, when you are doing that sort of thing you always have a nagging voice in the back of your head asking if whomever you are talking to or emailing with might be interested in doing something with your community. It chews up a LOT of mental cycles. This also applies to the MVP award. Getting an award is wonderful but it does modify your behavior. You end up thinking if you are doing enough, contributing enough, engaging enough, etc. You get the picture. You find yourself loosing time to commitments you take on to try and keep your MVP status. It becomes a treadmill, a rat race. I want off.
Second, by getting back the mental cycles and also a reasonable bit of time I can now choose to do other things. I have been getting asked "what I am choosing to do" - I don't know yet. I am taking some time to figure that out. I might decide to use the time to learn something new, or take up a new hobby, or re-discovery an old hobby for that matter. The point is, you don't have the option to do any of that if you don't step away.
Third, I think reflection is something we don't do enough of in our culture (and I am talking about the Silicon Valley culture I was born and raised in that seems to be taking over the rest of the world). I don't know if doing this will help me in any way (and lots of folks have shared they think it will hurt my career or that I am crazy) but I won't really know unless I try. I must admit, I find it amusing how surprised many colleagues in the MVP community were that someone would pull themselves out of the renewal process. Remember folks, 10 years as an Microsoft MVP, can anyone truly deserve an award that many years in a row? I think it is time for new blood, I just freed up a slot for someone else to get discovered. In the meantime, I now have time to go discover and perhaps become deserving of an award in some other aspect of my life.