Home All The Climb Out of the Comfort Zone: A Review of Andy Molinsky’s Reach

The Climb Out of the Comfort Zone: A Review of Andy Molinsky’s Reach

written by Orin Davis 20 June 2017

Orin C. Davis is the first person to earn a doctorate in Positive Psychology. His research focuses on flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring, and it spans both the workplace and daily life. He runs the Quality of Life Laboratory and is a freelance consultant. Orin's Web site. Orin's articles are here.

According to Professor Andy Molinsky’s new book, these three C’s form the tripod of resources people need in order to Reach beyond their comfort zones:

Conviction, Customization, Clarity

The book begins with a bunch of vivid stories that make it easy to see our own challenges, followed by a list of understandable ways in which we inhibit our own success. Rather than coming at people from on high, as many advisory books do, Molinsky gets into the trenches with his readers, acknowledging the difficulty of both the problems and the solutions. Though focused primarily on the professional arena, the stories cover a wide range of experiences that are applicable in all walks of life.

From being afraid to speak up, to being too shy to sell ourselves, to dealing with our weaknesses, Molinsky has a parable for us. The attuned ear will find not just compassion and wisdom, but a path towards the future.

Throughout the book, Molinsky offers a detailed menu of pieces that can be customized and arranged into any number of intimately-fitting solutions. In the sixth chapter, for example, he shows the incredible power of risk and vulnerability, and how putting ourselves out there is not just empowering to us, but allows us to give of ourselves in personally meaningful ways.

The section that I reread and bookmarked, though, is Chapter 7, in which Molinsky not only describes the resources that build resilience and get us off our rears, but also shows how we can seek out the pushes and pulls we need to overcome our reservations, fears, and inertia. In so doing, the author is less about giving prescriptions to follow so much as guiding readers towards writing their own prescriptions.


Reach is one of the next-generation self-improvement books that is more about enabling people to find their own paths than prompting people to walk those laid out by the author. A professor at Brandeis University’s International Business School and an expert in his field, he has more than earned his stripes. Molinsky goes beyond the surface level. He enables readers to reverse engineer his advice into personally applicable solutions, just as I advised when I wrote about reverse engineering positive psychology to find a good fit.

It’s easy for people to take a stab at the problem of getting out of the comfort zone, but to lay out a comprehensive system of problems and corresponding solutions as clearly and smoothly as Molinsky does is a gift to any reader. The greater gift, though, is to the many people who will find in Reach the means to make the hard climb into a better, wider world.


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

Davis, O. C. (2010). Reverse engineering positive psychology. Positive Psychology News.

Davis, O. C. (2015). Making self-help effective. Positive Psychology News.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight with Creative Commons licenses
Climbing the puzzle courtesy of hnnbz

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