Reach: A book review by Bob Morris

Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence
Andy Molinsky
Avery (January 2017)

Here’s a book written for those whose comfort zone is in danger of becoming a mausoleum

According to Andy Molinsky, “In an ideal world, no one would have to reach beyond their comfort zone to succeed at work, and all the tasks and responsibilities we need to perform would fit perfectly with our personalities…But unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Conflict-avoidant managers often need to embrace conflict — or at least learn to tolerate it. Timid entrepreneurs need to be able to pitch and promote themselves and their ideas…introverts need to network…self-conscious executives need to deliver speeches…and people pleasers need to deliver bad news. You get the idea.”

All this is especially important when competing in a global marketplace that seems more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember.

Throughout the first eight chapters, Molinsky explains why it can be so challenging to act outside one’s comfort zone, how so often people avoid doing it, and how, “through hard work, strategy and persistence, we can learn to grow and develop in ways we might never have thought possible.” He includes a number of stories that feature real people in real situations dealing with all manner of fears, anxieties, stress, frustrations, and self-doubts. My guess is that the lessons to be learned from these stories will vary from one reader to the next.

Some of the most valuable material is provided in the Chapter Nine when 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.”

Myth #2: The “magic” only happens outside your comfort zone.
Reality: ”The ‘magic’ can happen both inside and outside your 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.”

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.”

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.”

Molinsky covers all this in thorough detail in Pages 214-227. In Part IV, “Practical Tools: Apply Reach to Your Own Life,” presents questions, checklists, and self-assessments that will help readers to gain a greater understanding of their current situation by relocating outside of their comfort and (yes) discomfort zones to a more neutral, more objective perspective.

Centuries ago during his trial, Socrates asserted that “an unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Andy Kolinsky agrees.

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