Are you flirting with uncertainty or is it a state you’ve not only embraced but engaged? Jonathon Fields wants you to lean into it. His new book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Brilliance is the action plan. If you’re the creative type, you’ve no doubt encountered a few flirtations. Acknowledged or not, if you’re alive you’ve entertained uncertainty. From the moment you pulled yourself up with those chubby, little fingers to stand upright, uncertainty has been a part of your life. It shadowed you through childhood, plagued you through the terrible teens, teased you forward into adulthood, and continues to dance with you today. The question is, who leads?
As a military brat I was born into uncertainty. I entered the world in Philadephia and two weeks later was in Buffalo. My childhood was full of uncertainty. Every move became a challenge. Not knowing is a scary proposition. Most of us would like to know that success greets us at the end of every tunnel, but we soon learn that failure, stops, gaps, and lengthy pursuits accompany most endeavors. At its worst uncertainty can paralyze and cause us to throw up barricades, but at its best uncertainty unleashes elation that blows the doors off a shielded heart.
Jonathon Fields has written what promises to be a blow-the-doors off fantastic book that brings the whole question of uncertainty out into the open for discussion. Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance will appeal to all creatives but the concepts in this book are well worth everyone’s attention. How do I know? Well, I’ve read the first two chapters and they are phenomenal. That’s a good indication of what is to come.
Will you accept a story contest challenge? Mine follows.
The book launch of Uncertainty is an interesting one. He’s combined what’s come to be accepted as traditional launch norms but added a few twists of his own. One pre-launch event he’s concocted is Ride the Butterflies: The Story Contest and the inspiration for this post. Fields wants a story from your real life:
I want you to share a time where you danced with uncertainty…and won. A story where you felt the butterflies, the anxiety and fear, where you thought about turning back, maybe you even did, but then turned back around and ended up creating or becoming or doing something amazing. It could be about art, business, love, health, life, whatever. It just has to be real, no fables here.
I want you to inspire people not only with what you’ve accomplished, overcome and moved through, but with your willingness to reveal your dreams, struggles and successes. To own the gremlins and the glory. (Jonathon Fields, Uncertainty)
He put out the call for story and I felt the pull to respond.
My story: Plunging into Uncertainty
I didn’t always want to be a writer or at least it wasn’t a desire expressed consciously. I began my teens with a lot of bright ambitions but life turned dark quickly when I was 17 after I entered into a relationship that turned abusive and ended with a life-threatening event fourteen years later. It’s not easy to find yourself after years of being dominated daily with your every move controlled and your emotions shattered. Worse, living in fear, walking on eggshells, fearing the day when the volcano that is your life will finally erupt takes a huge toll. That day came and left me psychologically splintered, gripped in fear and unable to be in the presence of someone who was someone I’d loved. In a rage he’d come after me, charged over furniture and, as he told me later, left me for dead. Best I figure I must have passed out. That was the end of the relationship.
In the pit darkness and uncertainty prevail
I was filled with dread. I was scared. In many ways I felt as though I’d suffered a mortal wound. I had no idea what I was going to do next or how I was going to live my life or even what life I wanted. I’d slid deep into the pit of the worst of uncertainty. Paralysis and confusion held sway. I had always kept a journal of some sorts and that became my path to a new life. I talked to the page and the page talked back. Eventually the glimmer of a dream formed but it seemed such a farfetched one. Me? Write? Who was I to stand next to the all those whose books I’d devoured during the course of my life? I had no real education, no idea what it meant to truly write and hadn’t a clue where to start. A friend encouraged me to take a creative writing class at the local college.
The rise of a very late-bloomer
Taking up the call to write eventually means putting yourself out there. Not something I eagerly do. It was hard. It took a long time for me to learn not only what was needed to write but also to publish. My goal was never to write a book but to master the art and craft of writing. After many workshops, courses, conferences, professional and critique groups, and non-stop writing, I landed my first traditional book contract thirteen years later. My learning had just begun. Dogged by uncertainty every inch of the way, I continued on my quest, one that continues today. I love that writing is a life-long act. No matter how far into the journey you venture, the call to perform high-wire acts continues and uncertainty remains your companion.
Creativity needs tension
Frankly, a healthy dose of the unknown is probably a good thing. Uncertainty provides a certain amount of tension that helps the creative process. I’m pretty sure the knowledge that Jonathon Fields has gained would have helped me take giant steps and leap-frog over many of the uncertain moments I had along the way. The good news is that I’m still engaged and still willing to take the plunge into unknown territories. The story I shared today is deeply personal and not often shared, so it’s a huge risk for me to put it out into the world like this. But I can’t help but be surprised daily at how far I’ve come from a time so dark and bleak, so directionless. Perhaps it will help someone. Today writing remains a lifelong passion and a craft that takes a lifetime to master. I’m good with that.
If you have a story you’d like to share, why not Ride the Butterflies with Jonathon? But you better hurry, because the deadline is September 28th at 5PM (Eastern). You’ll find all the details below.
I hope you’ll return, too. I plan to write more. What’s your experience with uncertainty?
Get inspired: More from Jonathon Fields
Want to know more? Watch the video, read the introduction and first chapter, share you “uncertainty” story, take the creative mindset audit, and, of course, buy the book.