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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance Hardcover – September 29, 2011
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"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 Zappos.com, 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 JonathanFields.com and TribalAuthor.com and contributes to PsychologyToday.com and OPENForum.com.
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FIND YOUR CERTAINTY ANCHORS
"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.
BUILD YOUR HIVE
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."
TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
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.
OWN THE STORYLINE
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.
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.
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.