MySQL just gave me an award at this morning’s keynote, along with Sheeri Kritzer Cabral (for the second year in a row!) and Diego Medina, for my code contributions to the MySQL community, specifically Maatkit, which makes it easier to make MySQL reliable, fast, and robust. It’s an honor to be recognized. And while I could leave it at that, I’d like to say a word or two more.

The economy, community, and ecosystem that’s building around Free Software can often be very rewarding financially. This is a great motivation; being rewarded for your efforts is one of the chief virtues of a culture of entrepreneurship, along with the idea that to try and fail is just as noble as to succeed. But I find that isn’t enough. If I were only rewarded financially and with recognitions such as this morning’s, I would quickly become bankrupt at a deeper level. I would become focused on external measures of success, such as accolade and wealth.

That’s why it’s so important to be of service to others and to work for the good of all. This is one of the strongest counterbalances for me. It helps keep me humbler and more open.

In the end, Free Software is all about this. It reminds me always that we are all interconnected, and that to work for your highest good is to work for my own.

I believe we all need at least these three things deeply:

  • To chart your own course in life.
  • To be of service to others.
  • To make the most of what you have.

Does proprietary software offer you the chance to do this? No, it does not. It makes you beholden and dependent, not free. To pursue these three goals to their maximum extent you need freedom. “Make the most of what you have” doesn’t imply that you have to just accept what’s given to you; you can also take some time to see what your choices are, and choose something that gives you more freedom if possible. That’s what I did years ago when I moved away from using proprietary software.

I hope you’ll give this a try yourself: contribute what you build internally in your company, and put in the extra effort to make it really high quality and useful for everyone. This is how Maatkit started. Don’t wait for others to make it happen: chart your own course.

This morning’s award is most important to me because it reinforces that I’m serving others well.

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