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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Fields
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Jonathan Fields knows the risks-and potential power-of uncertainty. He gave up a six-figure income as a lawyer to make $12 an hour as a personal trainer. Then, married with a 3-month old baby, he signed a lease to launch a yoga center in the heart of New York City. . . the day before 9/11. But he survived, and along the way he developed a fresh approach to transforming uncertainty, risk of loss, and exposure to judgment into catalysts for innovation, creation, and achievement.

Properly understood and harnessed, fear and uncertainty can become fuel for creative genius rather than sources of pain, anxiety, and suffering. In business, art, and life, creating on a world-class level demands bold action and leaps of faith in the face of great uncertainty. But that uncertainty can lead to fear, anxiety, paralysis, and destruction. It can gut creativity and stifle innovation. It can keep you from taking the risks necessary to do great work and craft a deeply-rewarding life. And it can bring companies that rely on innovation grinding to a halt.

That is, unless you know how to use it to your advantage.
Fields draws on leading-edge technology, cognitive-science and ancient awareness-focusing techniques in a fresh, practical, non-dogmatic way. His approach enables creativity and productivity on an entirely different level and can turn the once-tortuous journey into a more enjoyable quest. Fields will reveal how to:

  • Make changes to your workflow that unlock buried creative potential.
  • Build "creation hives" -- supportive groups that can supercharge and humanize the process.
  • Tap social technology and user co-creation to add clarity, certainty, and sanity, even if you're an artist or solo-creator.
  • Develop a set of personal practices and mindset shifts that let you not just tolerate, but invite and even amplify, uncertainty as a catalyst for genius.

    Drawing on extensive case studies and research, Fields shares a set of detailed personal practices and environmental changes that can not only humanize the creative process, but also allow individuals and teams to stay more open to opportunity and play a bigger creative game.

Editorial Reviews


"Let's face it-the leap of faith required to follow a dream is usually accompanied by gut-wrenching, knee-quaking, soul-shaking fear. Jonathan Fields knows this-but instead of offering an empty pep talk, he delivers daily practices that can help you transform fear and uncertainty into confidence and creativity." — Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"Uncertainty; risk; exposure to criticism. How do you conquer this fearsome triad, so it doesn't block your path-even better, how do you harness its power to help you achieve your goals? Jonathan Fields uses perceptive analysis, fascinating case studies, and a series of exercises to illuminate how uncertainty can be used as an engine to power both innovation and creation." — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

"Keats called it Negative Capability-the skill 'of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts.' Tom Thibodeaux, coach of the Chicago Bulls, says, 'You gotta learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.' But nobody has nailed this faculty like Jonathan Fields, showing us how to turn the fog of self- doubt, fear and internal paralysis into the clear sailing of focus, concentration and results." — Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and Do The Work

"Jonathan Fields' new book is brilliant and subversive. Through sharp insights and practical exercises, he reframes doubt, hesitation, and ambiguity as gateways to our own natural brilliance. It's a handbook for fearless creativity and its offshoots: meaning, authenticity, and true success." — Susan Piver, author of The Wisdom of a Broken Heart and How Not to

"Fields is a breezy, engaging writer who demystifies creativity with a whole new bag of user friendly tricks and practices-crux moves, circuit breakers, certainty anchors and attentional training. Hugely practical. Lean into Uncertainty!" — Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything

"With a blend of old and new wisdom, Uncertainty equips you with tools needed to take consistent action in the name of great work. Great read!" — Tony Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of, Inc.

About the Author

Jonathan Fields is a lawyer-turned-serial entrepreneur, acclaimed blogger, business consultant, speaker, and author. His last book, Career Renegade, was named a Top 10 Small Biz Book by Small Business Trends. Fields writes about entrepreneurship, innovation, lifestyles, and marketing at and and contributes to and


Product Details

  • File Size: 432 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591845661
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (September 29, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052RHDY2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
107 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Stories, Useful Format November 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If we dare to create, fear and uncertainty become bedfellows. So how can we work through those emotions and thrive? In this book, Jonathan Fields' uses stories and research to chart an answer. His suggestions don't break new ground, but he assembles them in a useful and inspiring format. Here's the gist (headings correspond to chapters):


"Certainty Anchor" is Jonathan's catch-phrase for a ritual or schedule. One example: Work (create, practice, write) in bursts and pauses. Go for no more than 45 to 90 minutes. Exercise, meditate, nap. Work again.


They're not just cheerleaders, they give honest (but gentle) feedback. Specifically, your Hive can help you shift your focus to learning and away from traffic, sales or profits, and explore a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can release and gather feedback to fold into the next iteration.

The most important thing about a hive: "One person's success isn't necessarily another person's loss. There is no zero-sum game."


Engage in what Fields' calls attentional training: exercise, meditation, visualization, specifically process visualization: "If you're a writer, visualize yourself putting your notebook or pad in your bag, walking to your favorite café, choosing your table, ordering your favorite beverage, spending a few minutes reviewing handwritten notes, then opening your current creation and writing X words or for X minutes or hours."

Not surprisingly, exercise mitigates uncertainty because it changes the brain, tamping down the amygdala's fear and anxiety signals.


To overcome fear and uncertainty about your path, ask yourself three questions:

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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 Do's from "Uncertainty" by Jonathan Fields October 15, 2011
Here are the 3 Do's from the book "Uncertainty: Turning fear and doubt into fuel for Brilliance" by Jonathan Fields.

1. Accept uncertainty. Whenever you start on a new path or venture or endeavor, accept the uncertainty. Looking for any guarantees before you start can only lead to mediocre work and not great work. Great work is possible by accepting "uncertainty and its trusted sidekicks: risk of loss and exposure to judgment". This is the mindset change needed to get started.
2. Develop a method. With any new venture there is a possibility of a worse case scenario. Depending on the venture, it could be losing everything that you have, going back to zero or worse. Draw out a detailed plan of how you will come out of this scenario if it comes true. You can then go to the next scenario of what if you did not start this venture. Will you be happier five, ten, or fifteen years from now if you did nothing now?. Then go to the final scenario of what if you succeeded. Again, visualize this scenario thoroughly. Hopefully, you will get your answer.
3. Create rituals. Rituals provide some certainty in uncertain times. Create rituals that are specific for your situation. Creating rituals that matter help in bringing the best out of you. There are many benefits from rituals from enhancing creativity to minimizing distraction to building momentum to gaining mastery.

I highly recommend this book because it provides you tips to change your mindset, methods to handle uncertainty and actions to succeed.

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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, bad delivery March 12, 2012
I really wanted to like this book. The introduction was great, and the chapter summaries in the back were great too, because they were short and told me exactly what angle this author was taking with the always-fascinating concept of how creative people survive. I simply find myself at odds with the author's extremely uninteresting way of explaining things, which made me doubt what he was talking about even when I agreed with his general premise. I also wasn't too keen on the rehashing of old concepts with new names, although I understand Fields' desire to "own" a concept by giving it a new name.

It's not bad content, but I don't like the book. So why the three stars instead of two or just one? I like the concept of the book, I like that Fields put "skin in the game" and emerged with something that will help other people, although it wasn't as helpful to me as I'd hoped.

Other authors attack the same problem with greater personal fire and scientific rigor than Fields summoned in this book. He's onto something for sure, but he's not quite there yet.

Recommended substitutes:
It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be (Paul Arden)
How to Get Ideas (Jack Foster)
Philosophy for Polar Explorers (Erling Kagge)
Overachievement (John Eliot)
The 80/20 Principle (Richard Koch)

Running Lean by Ash Maurya is the best book on lean startup, customer development, and bootstrapping methods. Fields hinted at lean startup methods but barely grazed the surface, which is another problem I have with this book.

Robert Rodriguez's Ten Minute Film School (see Rebel Without a Crew, or watch El Mariachi with Director Commentary on) is possibly one of the most motivational tools I've found for creative development.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I remember liking it when I read it, but ...
I remember liking it when I read it, but one month later I legitimately can't remember a single thing from the book : /
Published 2 months ago by Christopher Laub
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Evan M. Zislis
2.0 out of 5 stars Messy and confusing
It is one thing not wanting to be a brick in the wall, but it is entirely different to be self deluded and think succeeding at any enterprise depends only on drive. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. PEREZGATELL
3.0 out of 5 stars It is an Ok book
It is ok...A few good points...nothing big about it if you have nothing read..
Published 4 months ago by Ninos
5.0 out of 5 stars very though provoking book that inspires self reflection
Fields did a great job of presenting key learnings a from a very large and diverse body of work, along with his own thoughts and experiences to knit everything together. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sebastian Scholl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 months ago by RDS
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I've needed.
This book is incredible. I've had a friend read it, and she was as blown away as I was, Her career is completely different from mine, Court Reporter vs. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Karen Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Felt human, felt possible to evolve in the quest of becoming a fear...
Book is pleasant and an easy read, also a hard to apply concept. Advantage is that many common sense and familiar solutions are well-organized in the book, so application looks... Read more
Published 13 months ago by NameBR
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond great
I love this book and have read it about 2.5 times so far. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the less self-helpy of the self-help books. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Valerie Urso
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, and written for a narrow demographic
Based on the very positive reviews here, and the likewise strong reviews on the back of the book, I was really expecting to like this book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jim Richmond
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