Andy Molinsky | A Reach from Comfort (Episode 612)

Andy Molinsky (@andymolinsky) is a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Brandeis University’s International Business School and author of Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • You know it’s important to step outside your comfort zone for the sake of growth — but are you doing it regularly?
  • Understand why it’s hard to act outside your comfort zone, how you (perhaps unknowingly) act to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone, and what it takes to successfully act outside of your comfort zone.
  • Learn the five psychological roadblocks to exploring outside of your comfort zone.
  • Discover the three key tools for systematically attacking your limitations in order to grow: conviction, customization, and clarity.
  • Harness the power of props (or kangaroo costumes, as the case may be).
  • And so much more…

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You already know that stepping outside of your comfort zone is crucial for progress — but are you practicing it as an intentional process, or avoiding it at every step?

Brandeis University organizational behavior and psychology professor Andy Molinsky joins us to explain the science behind his new book,Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

More About This Show

Anyone who’s listened to The Art of Charm for more than an episode or two knows that we’re always encouraging you to step outside your comfort zone in order to grow and better realize your potential. It’s a sound concept, but also one that’s been so beaten into the ground by fly-by-night life coaches and Instagram meme pushers that it seems obvious enough to have lost all meaning.

Luckily, we have Brandeis University organizational behavior and psychology professor Andy Molinsky, author of Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence, on hand to reintroduce us to the concept on a scientific — rather than purely motivational — basis.

Trained as a researcher, Andy wanted to put it under a microscope to see what he could discover. He conducted research interviews and observations with managers, executives, entrepreneurs, pediatric physicians, police officers, actors, students, priests, rabbis, teachers — and even a goat farmer — and submitted his results to peer-reviewed journals.

In the course of this research, there were three questions Andy wanted to answer:

  • Why is it so hard to act outside of your comfort zone?
  • How do you avoid acting outside of your comfort zone?
  • What does it take to successfully act outside of your comfort zone?

“What was interesting about looking at people across these different professions was I found strikingly similar findings in very different contexts,” says Andy.

Five Psychological Roadblocks to Exploring Outside Our Comfort Zones

Andy’s findings fall under five categories of psychological roadblocks that keep us from stepping outside of our comfort zones.

Authenticity: “The idea that this doesn’t feel like me stepping outside my comfort zone,” says Andy. “Young entrepreneurs pretending to put on their grown-up voice when pitching to venture capitalists. Or I remember the very first time I stepped into a business school classroom to teach MBA students; I felt like a complete imposter.”

Likeability: “The idea that I’m afraid that people won’t like this new version of me — or this version of me acting outside my comfort zone,” Andy says. Someone might worry that they won’t be well-received if they act more assertively than what others consider within “normal” parameters.

Competence: “The idea that I’ll look like a fool doing this,” says Andy. Someone tasked with speaking in public might feel the audience will spot him or her as a fool who has no understanding of his or her own words — more fuel to the imposter syndrome fire that began with the authenticity roadblock.

Resentment: “I’ve heard this one so many times with introverts,” Andy says. “The work world is, I think, biased toward extroverts in a lot of ways. There are a lot of introverts out there who want to be able to get ahead.” It can be very frustrating for an introvert to see his or her more extroverted peers getting the plum assignments and recognition not so much for doing the best work, but in knowing how to network and build a “quick sense of camaraderie and trust” with others.

Morality: “This doesn’t come up always,” says Andy, “but there are plenty of cases where people feel that, in a certain situation, acting outside their comfort zone is the wrong thing to do.” For example, you might feel bad if you have to fire a friend from your company — it could be the right move for your business, but not necessarily for your friendship.

Defining these psychological roadblocks can go a long way toward helping someone overcome them.

“When you start to have a vocabulary like this to pinpoint the exact reasons why it’s uncomfortable, I think you start to get a bit more leverage around acting outside your comfort zone,” says Andy.

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about why we’re sometimes resentful toward the very idea of change, how being able to articulate why we’re not stepping out of our comfort zones makes us more likely to correct course, the three tools — conviction, customization, and clarity — for systematically attacking self-limitations in order to grow, how props and forcing mechanisms work, and lots more.

Also be sure to check out Andy’s free guide to getting outside your comfort zone here, and his free cheat sheet to the cultural codes of ten different cultures around the world here.

THANKS, ANDY MOLINSKY!

If you enjoyed this session with Andy Molinsky, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Andy Molinsky at Twitter!

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1050 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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