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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance Paperback – November 6, 2012
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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.
"Too many of us sit on the sidelines of fear and doubt unable to contribute. This masterful book will put you back in the game." — Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Nonconformity
"Fear keeps scores of people stuck in careers and lives they hate. Fields gives crystal clear guidance on how to engage with uncertainty so that it fuels creativity and action. Your productivity, happiness, and pocketbook will be massively improved by reading this book." — Pamela Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation
About the Author
Jonathan Fields is an author, entrepreneur and speaker on a mission to help individuals and organizations cultivate the personal practices, workflow adaptations and environmental/cultural shifts needed to become more agile, creative and innovative and embrace action in the face of uncertainty with a greater sense of ease. A former NYC mega-firm/SEC lawyer turned serial-entrepreneur, Fields founded two cutting-edge boutique lifestyle/fitness facilities - Sedona Private Fitness and Sonic Yoga - the latter in the shadow of 9-11 in Hell's Kitchen, NY. He quickly grew both into industry-leading businesses, generating international media-attention and raising the bar for business, marketing and programming trends. He eventually sold both companies to focus on writing, training and speaking...and being a strongly present dad and husband. Now an author, innovation catalyst and speaker, Fields writes AdAge Power 150 blog JonathanFields.com, and contributes to PsychologyToday.com, Amex OPENForum and a number of other top-100 blogs.
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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.
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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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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