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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance
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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,955 ratings  ·  120 reviews
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 unc ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Portfolio (first published September 1st 2011)
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Emma Sea
May 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wish I'd read Erica's review before I started this, or I wouldn't have wasted my time. I read the whole thing, hoping it would become the book I expected. And what I expected was something far more about uncertainty on a philosophical level. Instead, this is a generic "own your life" self-help book, aimed specifically at creative entrepreneurs. If you're at all interested in this genre you're read this exact book a dozen times before i.e. foster a "growth mind set," use process visualization, ...more
Erica
I couldn't even make it to chapter two. I was originally intrigued by this book because there's so much uncertainty in everyone's lives and I thought, "I'd like to find a way to turn something so stressful into something positive." The first thing I noticed was there were no bibliographical resources, no references. When I see that, I often assume the writer is just sharing an opinion, something he's thought long and hard about and put to paper. While opinions are great, I'm not sure they should ...more
Kara
When I pick up a new business book, the first thing I do is flip to the back to check out the notes. I have a strong preference for books with lots of notes. It shows the author did his or her research, that the book is based on something other than just one person's ideas. Ideas from just one person, however grounded in experience, just aren't a big enough sample size for me. If there are no or very few notes, I assume the author's more of a motivational speaker than a writer.

I opened Uncertain
...more
Thomas
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I won this book through First Reads, woo! Now I am obligated to review it, though I would have anyway.

Jonathan Fields has felt uncertain before. As a lawyer-turned personal trainer who launched a yoga center in NYC the day before 9/11, he must have faced fears and falls. They haven't stopped him from writing Uncertainty, though. In this book he delves into the damaging effects of doubt and what we can do to defeat it. He draws from many fields, ranging from cognitive neuroscience, lifestyle reor
...more
Mark
Nov 10, 2011 rated it liked it
A good enough read on how to not let uncertainty, doubt, and the fear of judgement paralyze you.

Best bit of advice for me: pay attention to my work habits throughout the day and notice when I start to fade and not be keenly engaged in my work. Jot those times down and at the end of a week I have a pretty good pattern to guide me in structuring my day. For me, my best work is done between 7:00 and 9:00 am. After that I'm really only good for about 1/2 hour spurts of focus. The odd thing is that
...more
Ron
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
As a general business book, it falls flat after a few chapters. However, if you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur, creative type, or someone who has been in the kind of high-pressure situation solo targeted in this book, without of course the benefits of support systems, corporate training or the benefits of a support network and your family, this book is a gem. I found myself nodding my head constantly, and although I found that I had already discovered many of the techniques that the author des ...more
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I listened to this as an audio. I have to admit that the voice on this one threw me just a bit b/c of the constant intonations. But the book itself was wonderful. I think everyone starting a business or artistic project should read it. This concept is the key to making it as a creator. Leaning into fear and judgment. Conducting seemingly wild experiments freely. We must let the uncertainty fuel us b/c it is a necessary evil. Otherwise, what we do is simply derivative. It even talks about what to ...more
Tara Brabazon
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This book has some interest and strength because it turns 'dreams' and 'aspirations' into a plan. While there is attention to visualization and meditation, more importantly, there is attention to creating a plan, strategy and consolidated effort. The capacity to work hard - and with intensity - rather than long and frequently unproductive hours, is powerful and convincing.

Uncertainty is uneven. But there is excellent understanding of the value and importance of a question and summoning the focu
...more
Mark Rosemaker
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
What is the book about?
The book is about dealing with uncertainty, doubt and fear.
It explores techniques of benefiting from theses emotions (states) or at least overcoming their paralyzing aspects.

What problem was the author trying to solve?
He was trying answer the questions:
* How can I make uncertainty, doubt and fear work for me?
* How much uncertainty is good for me?
* How do I decide when to keep doing what I do or change course?

What are the main arguments? Do I agree?
* Uncertainty, doubt,
...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn't get a whole lot from this book. It's supposed to be about how to navigate uncertain situations (e.g., starting a company), but in practice, this turns out to be a fairly standard business book. It covers all the generic advice I've read in a dozen other contexts: e.g., Google 20% time, treating willpower as a finite resource, following the lean methodology to create MVPs, following mindfulness and meditation practices, and so on.

I take copious notes when reading, but the only new insig
...more
Ken Montville
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 12-books
(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 here 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
...more
Dawn Lennon
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
I picked up Uncertainty because I was inspired by an excerpt from it in a wonderful compilation of expert advice on expanding one's creativity regimen called Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glei.

Jonathan Fields has walked the walk, coming from a career that includes both business, the arts, law, and yoga practice. He has dealt with the effects of uncertainty, intellectually and physically.

The book starts strong with why uncertainty matters and how it affects the creative process whether it's
...more
Lori Tatar
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Uncertainty" is a great companion to help one find a little bit of reassurance when making decisions that may lead to uncertain places. It seems only appropriate at this time to mention Steve Jobs and to ask, where would we be if he had always taken the sure route to where he was going? He revolutionized how we communicate, how we make and watch movies, how we listen to music, just to name a few marks he made on the world. If he had always placed one foot then the other in someone else's footpr ...more
Debra Eve
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
If we dare to create, fear and uncertainty become bedfellows. So how can we work through those emotions and thrive? 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. He stresses the use of ritual, finding a "hive" (a benevolent feedback network), and training your mind through exercise, meditation and visualization (not "The Secret" gimme riches kind, but the kind where you pre-process yo ...more
Jacob
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was such a unique topic. I've never read anything else about this topic. I've never thought of myself as a person who is slowed or debilitated by fear or uncertainty. This reading helped me better identify the parts of my creation process that slow me down and gave me clear steps to take to remove those barriers. We are all creators in one sense or another.

Security in life is one of the great myths that we are wired to believe in. True security can never be achieved and thus we must find a
...more
Joseph
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book on the topic 'uncertainty'

(1) a very structured, systematic book on the topic
(2) it began by comparing uncertainty to rock climbing where we need to make certain 'crux moves' that will determine the entire route.
(3) uncertainty is unavoidable in all instances but we can learn from Ellsberg paradox/ social judgement, certainty anchor, rituals and routines, environment (hives) and access to certain individuals to make the experience less suffering. we can also train our brain thr
...more
Kelly Phillips
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to anyone I meet who wants something better in their life. Every one of them who followed through and read it thanked me for the recommendation before they were even halfway through the book. If you are someone who has "potential" but has never quite been able to make a go of it, READ THIS BOOK. Jonathan Field explains that those people we admire who take the big risks and go it on their own, in art, business, music, whatever - they are just as afraid of failing as you and ...more
Jennifer Willis
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book had been recommended highly on the UPOD (Under Promise, Over Deliver) freelance group, and I finally got around to reading it myself. I was pleasantly surprised by this book's encouraging take on smart approaches to "living in the question." I especially appreciated the "summation of chapters" at the end of the book to reinforce the important points made along the way.

I'm not an entrepreneur (in the traditional sense), but I am a freelance journalist and indie author, and this book has
...more
Christy
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-library
I'm a HUGE fan of this book. I read it shortly after quitting my job and taking off on an adventure to South America and it really helped to fuel my confidence (and re-assure me when I started to think I might be crazy). I'd highly recommend giving this one a read - Jonathan has such a positive way at looking at situations that others might shy away from. He gives some great suggestions for getting more comfortable with uncertainty, and points out how important they are for all of us throughout ...more
Lisa Kavanaugh
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wish I'd written this book! It brought together so many lessons/tools I've learned the hard way dealing with the discomfort of uncertainty and introduced me to some new techniques I am eager to try. If you're an entrepreneur, artist or someone constantly finding themselves in the deep end of the pool without a floaty- read this book. Not only does it give you tools for helping your body and mind deal with the unknown but it makes you see the struggle in a whole new, inspiring, motivating frame ...more
Cara
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have a lot more to say about this, but for now, let me just say this book is exactly what I needed to read. I thought it was going to be about fear, but actually, it's about creativity and how to harness your fear and uncertainty to do better creative work. Notably, he talks about how to be creative in a healthy way that's sustainable over the long haul. Needed that!!
Evan Lynch
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Highly recommended to artists and business people everywhere.
Sher
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up the audio version of this book from my local library because the title and tag line seemed to speak directly to me... just to discover it was the same book I’d checked out a while back and couldn’t get through then either >.< I hate that I can’t write a review without applying a star rating, because really this is about the audio version’s narrator - his cadence/intonation is incredibly distracting, and dare I say, irritating, to me. I can’t track with the book because I’m too focuse ...more
Mela Lozano
This book is a perfect business and life 101 guide to conquering the unknown. However, if you are looking to read a book for fun, this may not be helpful. It is a bit of a dense read, though Fields offers amazing examples, and crucial lessons that everyone should learn, I wouldn't recommend reading this book as a vacation read. More like you need a life-changing experience type of reading. I will admit, I had trouble finishing the book, and am sad to say I could not actually finish it, but I do ...more
Chad Schultz
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
It's another run of the mill self improvement/business book.

I listened to it a week or two ago. I should have reviewed it more promptly because it's hard for me to remember anything that stood out, anything that stuck with me and that I can use going forward...

I think there was something in there about encouraging meditation. And perhaps some general encouragement to take risks and live your dreams.

It certainly wasn't bad. Add it to your queue for a little dash of inspiration to fuel your fire a
...more
Zuri Hann
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
The main idea of this book is to embrace uncertainty and initiate something that you have desired for a long time. Some ways to minimize the uncertainty that was introduced in this book were 1) co-creation with customers from feedback 2) set up daily routines so that you don't have to think about what you should do every time. This book is a merge of different case studies and academic research that showed proof of taking action regardless of uncertainty they had in the beginning but was success ...more
Carol Miltersteiner
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good, inspiring and useful content for who is pursuing a creative path and has to face the anxieties from the natural uncertainty of their work. Jonathan shows that our response to the unevitable uncertainty is what differentiates an idea that never becomes action or a success that gets you stuck in fear and shares some useful tools to tame it.

Quick read and good reference, you can find some inspiring things and get good insights with this book.
Jerry Smith
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
2ish
I almost quit the book but it was so easy and fast to read, I stuck it out.
((With some skimming involved..))

The first 100 pages were garbage, just random anecdotes that were probably blog posts or tweets he found somewhere.

The final 125 or so redeemed themselves a bit to just *bad*

I can't remember how I came to this book, I just know I bought on Amazon so likely a podcast or a blog. Whoever it is owes me $12.
Paul Sizemore
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Rituals and routines can function as certainty anchors by offering a sense of connection" and they can "counter the pull of fear, anxiety, and resistance." In order to take risks, push boundaries, and choose less-certain options the judgment, criticism, and potential for rejection must come from a place of trust, respect, and vulnerability was a key message.
Scott Bywater
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is This the x-factor which sets the best entrepreneurs apart?

Excellent book for entrepreneurs as leaning into uncertainty may just be the x-factor which sets the best apart from those who slide sideways. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson has one thing in common - they embraced uncertainty. This book breaks down exactly how to do it too.
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Jonathan Fields is a bestselling author and the founder of Good Life Project®, one of the top-ranked podcasts in the world with a global, mission-driven community. The Wall Street Journal hailed Good Life Project as one of the top self-development podcasts, and Apple recently featured it on-stage during its legendary annual event.

An innovator in the field of human potential, Fields is also the chi
...more

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