September 29, 2011

New Releases: Uncertainty

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:24 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I remember taking swimming lessons when I was a kid. I hated them. They were early in the morning so the water was a bit colder than usual, and besides, it was swimming - something I couldn't really do, and worst case scenario, if I really screwed up, could drown from it. Not a fun way to start your day, in my book.

The worst was the day most people in the class feared: The High Dive. For some, it was a great opportunity to finally get to try it. But for the rest of us, it was the ultimate dread, the chance that something could really go wrong. I remember as I was waiting in line I could barely stand thinking about what would happen when I jumped off - that leap seemed contradictory to nearly everything I had learned up to that point, yet now I was expected to climb to a high platform and jump off into water I had barely learned to swim in. The risk seemed outrageous.

Jonathan Fields' new book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance, came out today, and it takes my high dive scenario and translates it to the adult world. What scares us? And how we react to that fear can determine what opportunities and successes we experience, and don't. For Jonathan, his high dive was much higher than mine. He quit a well-paid job as a NY attorney to open a Yoga studio. That's already a leap, but consider these other factors: he wasn't trained to be a yoga instructor, and the day after he signed the lease for the building he'd use as the studio was a profoundly bad day: September 11, 2001.

Check out the story in his own words:

For him, the risk was high, but the circumstances surrounding that risk brought an even greater focus on his passion and doing what really mattered for him and his interest in helping others. This book is his story, but not just that, it greatly encourages those who read it to not be so afraid of the unknown, and to take a chance on things that truly are important to you. Fear and uncertainty can be what holds you back, or what inspires you to think creatively. How we deal with it is our choice.

As for my choice? I climbed the high dive, stood on the edge, and looked down. I could faintly hear my instructor yell, "Don't look down. Look at the clock over on the wall, and then just take one step forward!" I was terrified. Time stood still.

I stared at the clock, and...

We all share these kinds of experiences, and without getting too hung up on what I did, ask yourself what fear and doubt you can confront. Uncertainty is a great guide if you need one.