Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance

Image of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance
Release Date: 
September 29, 2011
Portfolio Hardcover
Reviewed by: 

“Uncertainty provides a different look from a unique perspective at a universal issue—and thus deserves perusal.”

For anyone who works in an eat-what-you-kill job, there’s always the nagging question of whether or not a nine-to-five job is a better bet for stability. The same is true for any creative type who has deadlines but no way of really forecasting whether or not there will be bursts of brilliance at the necessary time.

Author Jonathan Fields addresses these and other issues in his new book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. Mr. Fields knows of what he speaks, as he gave up a six-figure income as a lawyer to make $12 an hour as a personal trainer before opening a yoga center in New York City the day before 9/11.

Along the way, minus a few unexpected stumbles, he found his footing and flourished, resulting in both this book and his first book, Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love.

Mr. Fields opens his book by detailing why uncertainty matters and what it does to us as we find our way through any endeavor. Then he delves into processes the reader can do to better deal with those moments of uncertainty—both external, such as setting up “hives” of like-minded and trustworthy individuals seeking and providing worthwhile feedback, as well as internal, such as attentional training, an example of which is guided meditation and visualization.

Along the way, the author provides insightful observations such as pointing out that uncertainty and fear of judgment go hand-in-hand whereas judgment is “almost always served up as a three-layer cake:

1. Judgment from those whose approval you seek

2. Judgment from those whose money you seek in exchange for you creations

3. Judgment from yourself.

Finally, there are enough case studies and personal anecdotes to leave the reader engaged and entertained. Moreover, as has been the trend lately, the author liberally visits and quotes other contemporary books in his field such as Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and Richard Wiseman’s The Luck Factor.

The only time Uncertainty drags a bit is toward the end where Mr. Fields’ yoga background makes its presence known in sections devoted to the aforementioned attentional training, “a catch-all phrase for a wide variety of techniques that create certain psychological and physiological changes in your body and brain.”

It’s hard to deny that mental calm and the meditation methods needed to achieve that calm are necessary in order to adequately deal with the topic of the book. Still, because it’s an introspective and meditative both in topic and tone, the section tends to slow the pace of an otherwise well written book.

Uncertainty seems to be in our collective horizon for the immediate and foreseeable future, so one hopes that Jonathan Field’s subtitle to his book—Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance—is something we can learn to do. Uncertainty provides a different look from a unique perspective at a universal issue—and thus deserves perusal.