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Uncertainty

Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance

By Jonathan Fields
15-minute read
Audio available
Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

Uncertainty (2011) offers us the chance to tackle our fear of failure and the unknown, and discover the steps we can take to be focused, productive, confident and successful.

  • Creatives who want to make the most of their potential
  • Anyone who has to deal with uncertainty and stress in their profession
  • Anyone who wants to understand the secret of people who seem to have no fear

Jonathan Fields is an entrepreneur, author and business strategist. He is the author of Career Renegade and has been featured in the New York Times, Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal. Field blogs on his site JonathanFields.com and for GoodLifeProject.com, covering entrepreneurship and lifestyle.

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Uncertainty

Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance

By Jonathan Fields
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields
Synopsis

Uncertainty (2011) offers us the chance to tackle our fear of failure and the unknown, and discover the steps we can take to be focused, productive, confident and successful.

Key idea 1 of 9

Risk is always connected to anxiety, fear and criticism.

Think about the last time you had to make a decision which involved taking a gamble. How did you feel? Nervous and anxious, right?

Risk is always associated with the possibility of loss, which is what makes us so scared. When we create something, we need to give it some kind of input, such as effort or money. But if we fail, we run the risk of losing some or even all of this input.

If the possibility of loss – of money or our reputation, for example – is too high, we shy away from investing in new ideas and shut off our options in order to maintain the security and stability that already exists in our lives.

It follows, then, that those of us who have the most to lose, maybe because we have a mortgage to pay or a family to look after, are often the ones who are most wary of taking risks.

But why else do we curtail risk? Well, taking risks and thinking outside the box sometimes invites judgment, and we hate being criticized for our actions.

When we try something new, others are likely to observe us and judge us if we go against norms and traditions. This is often because others believe that following an unknown path with an unknown consequence could leave us unnecessarily exposed. This judgment may come from the people who support us, our investors or even from ourselves.

But judgment and fear of criticism can be toxic to our confidence and inhibit our creativity.

Take one experiment from Harvard, which found that painters are less creative when working on commission. This is because they are forced to deliver something that matches the purchaser’s expectations rather than experiment with new things.

The reality is that uncertainty makes us uncomfortable because we don’t want to fail in front of others. But you can take action to fight this fear.

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