Giveaway and Interview: Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields
Posted on 28 September 2011
Editor’s Note: The winners for this giveaway have already been chosen. They are:
Several years ago, when I lived in New York City, I developed a love for yoga that started in a studio previously owned by Jonathan Fields. I didn’t know it then, but I would eventually look to Jonathan as a role model, mentor, and friend.
Author of Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, Jonathan Fields is (in his own words) a dad, husband, New Yorker, author and speaker, serial wellness-industry entrepreneur, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, marketing and innovation consultant, venture partner and book-marketing educator.
In his new book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, Jonathan helps readers leverage fear and uncertainty for creation and innovation. If you’ve ever felt frustrated, overwhelmed, or paralyzed by risk or the potential for failure, this book is for you.
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1. Your new book is titled: Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. How do you define brilliance?
To me, brilliance is your ability to bridge the gap between where you are now and where know deep down you have the potential to be. It’s not about someone else labeling you or your creation “brilliant,” it’s entirely personal and visceral.
When you pause, and look inside, are you truly operating on the level that represents your best? Are you fully exploring and embracing your potential? There’s no single objective metric. It’s all about the difference between where you are now and where you know you can be.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to write this book—and what inspired you?
I’ve always been fascinated by what allows a small number of world class creators to act in the face of fear, uncertainty, and doubt and bring amazing things into the world. So, the nugget for the book has been there for a long time. But a few more recent experiences were pretty pivotal.
One was being in NYC during 9-11, a story I share in the trailer for Uncertainty. Another is my lifelong exploration of entrepreneurship and art. Becoming a dad and wanting to understand how to instill this mindset in my daughter is part of it. And, no doubt, my exploration of Eastern philosophy and Buddhism as the founder and a former senior teacher at the yoga studio I founded in NYC played a major role.
But it really started to take form after my last book. I spent a small bit of time talking about reframing fear. That grew into a TEDx talk at Carnegie Mellon and expanded eventually into what became this new book. Truth is, though, I didn’t really know what the book would be about until I started writing and surrendered myself to where it “needed to go.”
3. What are the top three experiences or practices that have increased your tolerance for uncertainty?
So, let’s talk about the word “tolerance.” The research on ambiguity, uncertainty, and creativity uses that word. But I’ve got to admit, I don’t dig it. I think it’s important to frame the experience differently. Tolerance implies it’s something that must be suffered, when, in truth, there are a number of things you can do to help experience it as a signpost of meaning and progress and even leverage is as creative fuel.
Okay, three things that have really helped me embrace the power of uncertainty are:
- Mindfulness – My daily sitting mindfulness practice is one key to my ability to constantly return to a place of uncertainty as an artist and an entrepreneur. Famed Silicon Valley VC, Randy Komisar, nailed it when he said to me, “equanimity is a powerful muscle to flex when you step out into the ambiguous void.” A mindfulness practice, it turns out, can grow into an extraordinary source of equanimity.
- Pulse & Refuel – We tend to work crazy hours without breaks, often because we think that’s how you do great work. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Not only are we more creative when we work in intelligently-timed bursts with refueling breaks, we also get more done in less time and experience the process as far more enjoyable, less stressful, anxious and fearful.
- Exercise – For decades, we’ve looked as exercise as something we do to look good, lose weight, and maybe even stave off disease and aging. Recent brain research, however, shows certain approaches to exercise can improve mood, problem-solving, critical-thinking and creativity, while reducing stress and anxiety.
Before I started working on Uncertainty, I committed half-heartedly to some of these practices (which is kind of funny considering I used to teach yoga and meditation, lol). But as I went deeper into the research, my eyes opened and I began to commit more fully, especially to the approaches laid out in the studies. The result has been nothing short of transformative, both to my creative process and to my life.
4. You’ve said that “Uncertainty is a signpost that what you’re doing matters.” Can you expand on this?
The only way we can have even a moderate level of certainty about an endeavor before we begin it is if either we’ve done it before or someone else has. At which point, we’re no longer creating something cool, we’re replicating something that’s already been done. And that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to do things that matter. To us, and to the world around us.
That means making choices and taking action when we don’t have perfect information, when we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. When we’re uncertain. In that sense, then, uncertainty, at least in the earlier stages of any great adventure, is a signpost that what you’re looking to bring to life matters. That it’s not derivative. That’s not a guarantee that it’ll work, but at least the quest will be fueled by meaning, rather than mimicry.
5. What is the main message you hope readers take from this book?
Kill the butterflies, you kill the dream. Uncertainty has to be present in the quest to create great art, businesses, and lives. That makes us feel uncomfortable. But the answer isn’t to back away until the feeling eases. Rather, it’s to learn how to experience the feeling differently. To train in the alchemy of fear and harness it as fuel for brilliance.
To learn more about Jonathan Fields, visit him at jonathanfields.com or follow him on Twitter @jonathanfields. You can purchase his book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance here.
FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site.
About Lori Deschene
Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal is available for pre-order now. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..
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