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106 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified 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:

1. What if I go to zero? What would happen if you failed completely?

2. What if I Do Nothing? Fields maintains "there is no way to move sideways in life. Not in relationships, not in business, not in spiritual growth, not in the quest to build something brilliant from nothing. There's only up or down." He points out that if any of the following are left unaddressed over time: nagging pain becomes chronic; unrewarding work becomes soulless; your currently "passable" life becomes increasingly painful as you enter the long, slow slide toward death.

3. What if I Succeed? Create your own storyline of success.


Does Fields say anything we haven't heard before? Isn't a Certainty Anchor just a ritual or schedule? A Hive another name for network? Meditation and exercise obvious ways to overcome fear and anxiety?

It's not new information. But Fields connects the dots with individual stories, helps analyze what's holding you back, and inspires you to do something about it. His portrait of "What if I do nothing?" is chilling. He includes chapter summaries, something I wish all nonfiction books would do. Plus, I just like the word Hive. All and all, a good read.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.

You can also find this review and similar ones at [...]
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.

Also see Chaper One, Time Management Secrets of Billionaires, in Chet Holmes' book The Ultimate Sales Machine for one of the greatest methods I've ever found for preventing burnout and for keeping everything in your professional life well sorted.

I hope this book helps you more than it helped me. And Fields, don't stop now! Everyone has at least one handful of crappy books in them, and you have to get them out of your system eventually.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Uncertainty isn't your enemy. Embraced, it's an armored ally, forever by your side. How often have you said... "What if people think I'm stupid?" or "What if I end up all alone?" or "What if I get rejected?" or "What if I'm wrong?"

What if I fail?

What ifs are useless; a bog of self-doubt that will swallow you whole if you stop demanding your best future long enough to let it. Don't. Fear, when expressed as uncertainty, is your friend; fuel for brilliance. You'll never stop it, so embrace the unavoidable and dodge the anxiety, pain and suffering that comes from treating it with silence.

Too many would-be artists spend their time on the craft and not enough time training their minds with the tools to mine their deepest creativity, then act on it, even if they have no idea whether or not they can pull it off, or if the end product will be good enough, or how their adventure will ultimately end. But they go forward...

Even if people think they're stupid.
Even if they end up all alone.
Even if they get rejected.
Even if they're wrong.
Even if they fail.

I can't say enough nice things about Uncertainty. I'll be buying this book in bulk come Christmas time. I know a lot of people who have creativity hiding inside them. They're just a little... Uncertain.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are some great nuggets in this book, especially the sections on exercise and brain function, creativity anchors, and reframing from zero. So why only three stars? I felt the tedium and repetitiveness of this book distracted from the good parts. The first chapter described what the book would show. Then the start of each chapter described what would be discussed in that chapter. The end of each chapter summarized what was just described. And, if that weren't enough repetition, the final chapter listed a bunch of takeaways from each chapter. I got the distinct impression the book was 30 pages of substantive material stretched to book length.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am a creative dreamer living in the corporate world and I've long desired to break out and start my own business and live my ideal life. For the past 10 years I have known that I'm ready to make the jump. I've tried multiple times to nail down that perfect business idea and build into something that allows me to do just that. But I couldn't make it happen, and I didn't understand why. I saw an interview with Jonathan Fields, went to the book website, and played the video. I immediately downloaded the book on my Kindle. And by the time I got a few pages in I had my answer. It's fear. Paralyzing fear that stops me from pushing through and living up to my full potential. It wasn't overt. I didn't know that I was hanging back, but in reading this book I realized it was true.

The entire book is valuable, but two things about this book specifically resonated with me:

1) Fields descriptions of how it felt to be paralyzed by fear. I started to understand that while I didn't THINK fear was stopping me, it was impacting me every second and every thought.

2) His research into how serial entrepreneurs and creatives handled fear. They were afraid too, but they lean into the fear rather than pulling back. They create structure in other areas of their lives so that they can be in a state of flux with their careers.

I now understand what was blocking me, and I've learned how to lean into the fear and move forward in spite of it. My application of the concepts in this book has removed my last obstacle. In just a few short months I have made incredible progress, to the point that the people I need to partner with and the resources I need to help me on my way are almost jumping out of the woodwork at me. It's not an overstatement to say that this book has changed my life, and the lives of several people that I've recommended it to. If you are in the space I used to be in, buy this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Here is what I learned from the book

Anything certain has already been done. (if I feel uncertain it means it’s new territory for me, a learning and growing opportunity)
But the possibility of loss is also a signpost that what you’re doing really matters, that you’re vested in both the process and the outcome. Knowing that fuels a deeper commitment to action and to striving not just to create something, but to create something amazing. Risk of loss has to be there. You cannot create genius without having skin in the game. Kill the risk of loss and you destroy meaning and one of the core motivations for action.

it’s that very lack of assurance that also serves as proof that the journey you’re embarking on is not derivative.
tolerance for ambiguity “enables individuals to not be satisfied by partial or non-optimal solutions to complex problems.
it’s more constructive to replace the phrase “tolerance for ambiguity” with “willingness to embrace the unknown.”

Actually, of all variables, the easiest to quantify is often the magnitude and impact of failure, which is one of the reasons our brains tend to spiral into that abyss. But the odds and magnitude of success are near impossible to define.
The more you lean into uncertainty and the greater the risks you take to create something that didn’t exist before, the greater will be the potential for you to be judged and criticized.

We’ll create with abandon, make bolder choices, lean into uncertainty, and take risks far more readily if we know that whatever comes out of that effort will never be revealed to others. The moment we introduce the element of exposure, judgment, criticism, and the potential for rejection, most people run for the certainty fences.

An author says, “I’m the most conservative person in the world. I just give it to a friend who takes care of everything for me. The only place I take risks is in the work. And then that’s where I feel like your job is to take risks.”
Your own orientation is defined not so much by what you’re good at, but by what energizes you.

I don’t like details, minutiae, process. Baby steps slay me. Systems development makes me cry. Fleshing out, editing, and incremental progress give me hives. But as a bootstrap entrepreneur and a writer, I haven’t had a choice.

This is the place where resistance lives: where you are forced to face the part of creation that comes hardest to you.

This is where ritual and routine, done right, add immense power to the process. Ritual helps train you to sit down when you most want to stand, when you’re forced to work on the part of the process that leaves you anywhere from bored to riddled with anxiety.
Part of the power of the seed accelerator model lies in the energy of the hive and the expectations established around risk, uncertainty, and judgment.

quote: “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.”

It creates a group dynamic in which each creator becomes far more open to input because that input is clearly driven by the desire to help improve the creation.

You need mentors to learn from , heroes to follow, champions to support you
Champions are more difficult to find. They are people who will be there with you, no matter what happens, especially ones who will feel the pain equally, both emotionally and financially, if you fail. Armed with their confidence, any person who is embarked on a creation quest becomes empowered on a very different level.

if I could succeed in a world in which I had little interest, I’d figure out a way to succeed again in a world whose light pulled me in, even if most others failed. (so true!)

A huge part of the uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that defines the typical quest to create comes from a lack of input during the process of creation from those we’d most like to appeal to with our creations.

In the lean start-up, everything is done in the name not of profits but of learning. Teams build what Ries calls a minimum viable product (MVP) that represents the “least amount of work necessary to start learning.” This product is then released to potential users as a series of experiments; feedback is solicited, then folded into the next MVP. (makes sense)
Meditate! That will be your safe harbor. It’ll be the place where you find quiet and the guidance of inner self. Attentional training is key.

• Active AT (think Road biking for hours on a flat road) • Guided Meditation • Transcendental Meditation (recommended. uses repeated sounds for inward focus) • Insight meditation • Mindfulness (zinn’s MBSR protocol, non dogmatic, recommended, well researched) • Zen meditation and zazen • Buddhist meditation • Mantra meditation • Chanting and prayer across many traditions • Biofeedback • Hypnosis and self-hypnosis

Attentional training provides fertile ground for the incubation of big ideas.

Visualize processes not outcomes. It’s called process simulation, and true to its name, it focuses on visualizing not the outcome or goal but the steps and actions needed to get there
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
(note: I was sent a copy of this book, signed by the author - thanks, Jonathan! - in exchange for an honest review. It was also the January selection for 12 Books - a reading group on Goodreads)

I first ran across Jonathan Fields on his blog and was impressed by his giving heart and generous spirit. So I was interested to read his take on overcoming the fear we all have when beginning something new.

To his credit, the book is not just a collection of blog posts cobbled together to make a few bucks. Yet, after the Introduction and first few chapters my mind began to wander.

It seems Fields is writing to an audience that wouldn't normally pick up a personal development/self-help type book. The title itself is a bit hyperbolic. Surely, most people would be happy with outcomes less than "brilliant". This continues into the body of the book where he writes about "creators" and their "creations" in the same way most people might think of producers and products. After all, since marketability is a goal isn't most of what we "create" really a product. Surely, even a product of our imagination doesn't have to be couched in such lofty terms.

Jonathan is a good writer but the language makes the book a little inaccessible, at least to me.

His case studies also seemed a little inaccessible. Most of them are what some people refer to as Renaissance Men (or Women). It's not enough that they are clearly successful in one field, they also seem to excel in several others and, of course, they all have the epiphany that there must be something more. They feel unchallenged, unfulfilled. So they go out and start (create) something new. It helps that the success they've enjoyed before starting over has probable given them plenty of money to take chances without worrying too much about paying the bills.

Finally, some of the advice in this book is eons old wrapped in the language of the Web 2.0 twenty or 30 something trying to find themselves. Routine and ritual become certainty anchors, surrounding yourself with positive, like minded people becomes finding mentors, heroes and champions. Even Jonathan's interesting visions of co-creation through feedback loops or co-working environments might be considered as developing a mastermind group. Oh, and focus? You get that through Attention Training (AT) aka meditation.

As I progressed through the book, I began to like it more and more. It does have some interesting ideas and the author has obviously done his research. So if you'd like a book that provides a path on your journey to bringing your creation to market, this is a good place to start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a fantastic book. The truth is that there is no magic formula for greatness, and that every amazing act is generated out of a place where nothing is for certain. We've learned to fear uncertainty because -- go figure -- we never know what's going to happen. So we avoid it, and then nothing great does happen.

Jonathan Fields finally said it: Uncertainty is THE WAY. Uncertainty is the fertile ground for amazing things. Without uncertainty, there is no greatness. Finally, someone admitted the truth instead of telling the world what it wants to hear: that there's a paint-by-number blueprint for success.

In other words, if you're uncertain, you're on the right path and you're in good company.

Only once you see that and embrace it can you achieve what you want to achieve. And Jonathan shows you exactly how to do it without undue pain, without undue angst.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Although I am not an artist, I used to re-read the great book "Art & Fear" every once in a while for support in my creative endeavors. I will now be re-reading "Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance". I am so turned on by this book, it has prompted me to write this, my first Amazon review.

As someone who has an on/off meditation practice and a gym membership that is too frequently unused, the examples that the author, Jonathan Fields, includes of how these things can directly benefit one are compelling. I plan to begin both practices again without delay.

I, for one, am not put off by what others call the repetitive nature of the book. The construction of the book will be very helpful on subsequent readings. The chapter introductions act as executive summaries, and the last chapter will be great for future review. I am launching my own business soon and this book is a perfect addition to my support system. I have already recommended it to others.
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