Five “Key Myths” About a Comfort Zone

Some of the most valuable material in Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence is provided in the Chapter Nine when Andy Molinsky shares his thoughts about what he characterizes as “five key myths and realities about acting outside your comfort zone.” See if you agree.” Here they are:

Myth #1: All it takes to step outside your comfort zone is taking a leap.
Reality: “Very few people spontaneously ‘leap’ outside their comfort zones; rather, that leap is the result of considerable thinking and deliberation.”
COMMENT: I agree but it also true as lobsters soon learn: get out of a pot of water before it begins to boil. Steven Wright concedes that the early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Myth #2: The “magic” only happens outside your comfort zone.
Reality: ”The ‘magic’ can happen both inside and outside your comfort zone.”
COMMENT: Also, “magic” can be even more elusive — albeit more valuable — outside of the comfort zone.

Myth #3: I’m the only one who struggles with situations outside my comfort zone.
Reality: “Nearly everyone struggles with situations outside their comfort zones.”
COMMENT: Sometimes we need a new comfort zone. When in a hole, stop digging. Don’t feed a dead horse.

Myth #4: Getting out of your comfort zone is just about “sucking it up.”
Reality: “’Sucking it up’ is important, but so too are other strategies which, in fact, can ultimately make ‘sucking it up’ less necessary.”
COMMENT: When sky-diving, it is advisable to be strapped into a parachute.

Myth #5: With enough inspiration, anyone can stretch outside their comfort zone.
Reality: “Anyone can do it, but it takes more than inspiration; it takes effort, persistence, strategy, and a keen understanding of the challenges.”
COMMENT: If we have convinced someone to leave their comfort zone, we are then obligated to provide support if and when needed.

* * *

Reach was published by Avery (January 2017).

Andy Molinsky is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University’s International Business School, specializing in behavior change and cross-cultural interaction in business settings. He holds a B.A. in international relations, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Brown University; an M.A. in international business from Columbia University; and an M.A. in psychology and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Harvard University. Molinsky regularly writes for the Harvard Business Review and was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2016. His work has been featured in The Economist, Fast Company, Fortune, Financial Times, The Boston Globe, NPR, and the Voice of America. His first book, Global Dexterity (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013), received the Axiom Award (Silver Medal) for Best Business Book in International Business & Globalization and has been used widely in organizations around the world, including Boeing, AIG, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the Clinton Foundation, among others. He speaks regularly to a wide range of professional audiences.

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