Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields takes uncertainty by its throat and furiously knocks it down. This is no self-help book about overcoming your fear (of spiders). This is a research-driven exploration of the underlying mechanics of uncertainty. And, ok, maybe also a bit of a self-help book, but then one that is next on your list!

F.E.A.R.: False expectations appearing real, the best definition of fear I have heard in my lifetime. Uncertainty and fear of judgement go hand in hand. Jonathan Fields defines judgement as a three layer cake: 1) Judgement from those whose approval you seek (e.g. peers, mentors), 2) Judgement from people from whom you seek money for your creations, and 3) Judgement from yourself. People are always asking themselves two questions: 1) Is this good enough? and 2) Am I good enough?

Two of the many experiments described paint a clear picture of how crippling fear is. The one is an experiment in which people were asked to pick a ball from either a box with a certain (50/50) division of balls, and an uncertain box with a random division between both. The manipulation was the presence of an audience, and people were more likely to choose for the latter when there was no audience present. A natural experiment is that of artists from whom their work was being commissioned (asked to paint with a specific goal). Judges were asked to rate the creativity of two paintings by each artist, one that was commissioned and one that they made for no particular reason/goal. And you have probably already guessed it right that the latter was judged to be far more creative.

The book introduces the concept of uncertainty but then ventures much further. Fields debunks the myth that there are fearless creators, people who are not afraid of anything. He instead proposes that everyone has his or her fear and doubts, but that some have learned to effectively deal with them. One of the first techniques is to find your certainty anchors, to explore and evaluate your lifestyle ritual and alternate between bursts of work and recovery. Later chapters explore building your hive (find the spot where you are challenged just enough), socializing creation (create with others), and training your brain.

Overcoming uncertainty boils down to learning to live, even to embrace, your uncertainty. Field has three questions that you must ask to take control of your life again: 1) What if I fail, then recover? 2) What if I do nothing?, and 3) What if I succeed? Already by posing (and answering) these fundamental questions, you will mitigate a large amount of uncertainty. Real-life examples combined with research and tips make this book one of a kind. From big-time CEO to student, everyone has something to learn from Uncertainty.

More on Uncertainty:

http://www.theuncertaintybook.com/ – The Website of Uncertainty

http://www.accidentalcreative.com/creating/uncertainty-an-interview-with-jonathan-fields/ – Interview with Fields

http://lateralaction.com/articles/uncertainty-jonathan-fields/ – Interview with Fields