I used to trade currencies and CFDs as a hobby. When I first started, I was puzzled by seeing the acronym ‘DYOR’ at the end of lots of blog posts and on discussion forums. It stands for ‘Do Your Own Research’ and it is a shorthand way of saying ‘I’m doing this because I believe it is going to work but my style of trading, time frame, and tolerance for risk might be totally different to yours and I might be wrong so Do Your Own Research and make your own mind up’. A confession: In my own mind, I imagine ‘DYOR’ to feature at the bottom of every blog post/article/book I read about HR/leadership/success/business for two main reasons:

 

(1) Not everything you read (whether on the internet or in a book) is necessarily true:

In some situations, there aren’t any absolute truths but there are differing beliefs and perspectives. For example, there was a very public (but fairly polite) disagreement between Adam Grant1Adam Grant, Wharton Professor of Management wrote about the dangers of authenticity, citing Brené Brown’s work: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dangers-being-authentic-adam-grant and Brené Brown2Brené Brown, University of Houston Research Professor, accused Adam Grant of misrepresenting her work: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-response-adam-grants-new-york-times-oped-unless-youre-brené-brown about whether authenticity is a good or bad thing. I have a viewpoint on this but I don’t think either is right or wrong; I believe it is an example of us inventing a concept to help us make sense of the world and then disagreeing over definitions of that abstract concept. There are few absolute truths, but lots of perspectives and commonly-held/accepted truths.

And whilst Adam Grant and Brené Brown argue from a position of knowledge and research, that isn’t the case for everybody. Just because somebody commits words to a page, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what they’re talking about. I think this tweet about the Dunning-Kruger effect3Kruger, Justin; David Dunning (1999). “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, although I know the diagram is an over-simplification of the concept expresses it reasonably well:

 

 

 

(2) Things are often true just for the person writing them

Through my work on strengths-based leadership development, I’ve had thousands of conversations about how people succeed and there are some truths that I hold deeply: (1) everybody has talent (2) we’re all wired differently, with different talents (3) one size does not fit all. A common trap that I see people falling into is where somebody discovers a breakthrough that helps them succeed and then shares that as the way to succeed. They’re true in that they are reflections of what helped that person achieve what success looks like for them but very few of them are widely applicable as one size does not fit all. Sometimes I’ll write about the fundamental truths and patterns, but other times I will offer personal reflections about what works for me. A good example would be where a few of us have been loosely working out loud4A concept developed by John Stepper where you work in ‘working out loud’ circles and writing about our Personal Learning Network (PLN). The blog posts have been met with loads of positive comments (from people who have found something valuable for them in there) and some negative where people don’t like the idea of being so intentional/exclusive about a PLN. My aim in sharing my own PLN was to simply work out loud and share my approach so I’m absolutely comfortable that some people find it helpful and others don’t as it comes with an implicit caveat that it is what works for me.

 

I think it is always worth reading with a critical eye and not believing everything we read, understanding when we’re working with models and viewpoints and when we’re just getting a bit of working out loud. At least, that’s what I believe. You might want to DYOR!

References   [ + ]

1. Adam Grant, Wharton Professor of Management wrote about the dangers of authenticity, citing Brené Brown’s work: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dangers-being-authentic-adam-grant
2. Brené Brown, University of Houston Research Professor, accused Adam Grant of misrepresenting her work: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-response-adam-grants-new-york-times-oped-unless-youre-brené-brown
3. Kruger, Justin; David Dunning (1999). “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, although I know the diagram is an over-simplification of the concept
4. A concept developed by John Stepper where you work in ‘working out loud’ circles