I'm always amazed when information acquired in one context emerges to be useful in an entirely different environment. As a member of the STC Board of Directors, and its current president, I've had to learn a lot about Robert's Rules of Order. I even have my own dog-eared version that I referred to a lot during some tricky proceedings this past year. One would think, what could be more esoteric and useless in the real world of user experience design than parliamentary law? It's not like we aply that kind of formality in our Agile scrum meetings every morning.
"I move we develop a regex to capture the time stamp field."
"I second that."
So I'm working these days on trying to design a report format around a particular data security standard. I've spent a lot of time trying to understand the standard and what it requires of users and what it would require of our product. I suddenly realized that my analysis was feeling like the kind of research I did on Robert's Rules. I don't think I could have critically analyzed the standard nearly as effectively had I not had the experience of trying to critically understand Robert's Rules so I could use them effectively to move my agenda forward.
I'm used to getting a lot of value from my involvement as a volunteer with STC; even so, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the legal-like research I had done on parliamentary law paid off in developing skills later useful for researching a data security standard for a technical communication project. It's taught me to be more mindful of what I can take while in the act of giving. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. The more we let ourselves benefit from volunteering, the more willing we are to volunteer.
Mantra for today: Do good; get smarter.