CM 075: Andy Molinsky on Overcoming Your Fears

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Blog Post - AndyDo successful people possess talents that we lack? Or do they just do things that scare the rest of us?

Andy Molinsky wants to help us embrace difficult challenges that can lead to growth. He is the author of the book, Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence, and a Professor of Psychology and Organizational Behavior at Brandeis International Business School.

Andy has spent his career studying how people learn to have difficult conversations, take on new roles, overcome shyness, and achieve the success they crave. He often writes on this topic for Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fast Company, The Economist and The Financial Times.

In this interview, we talk about:

  • Concrete steps you can take to step outside your comfort zone
  • The connections Andy made between what immigrants face and what we all face when we enter a new, challenging situation
  • How so much of learning new things and taking on new, stimulating challenges is about stepping outside our comfort zones
  • What we gain by stepping outside our comfort zones
  • Why it is about everyday acts of courage, like making smalltalk with supervisors, speaking up at meetings, connecting with someone who holds a different point of view
  • How reaching helps us grow and advance in our lives and jobs to take on new roles, achieve goals and dreams, and help others
  • The techniques we use to avoid reaching, like playing the avoidance game
  • The excuses we make when we try to avoid reaching and how they harm us
  • How perfectionists can avoid reaching
  • The important role scaffolding plays as we take on new challenges and opportunities
  • How we can customize or personalize aspects of a situation to feel more empowered
  • The props, behaviors, costumes, and poses we can employ when we reach
  • How fear is about trying to predict the future rather than living in the present
  • How reaching is so often a process of self discovery
  • The epiphanies we have when we reach — easier than we thought and better than we imagined we would be
  • How a friend or colleague can remind us of how well we did the last time we reached in this way
  • Why sticking with it when things get hard means all the difference
  • How we can build small wins into our plan to help us gain perspective and resilience
  • Why reaching is really about learning, not failure
  • Why it is all about adopting a learning orientation
  • How keeping a diary can help us track our learning journey
  • Why reaching is about much more than taking a leap — it includes planning, practicing, trying out tools and techniques
  • The fact that we are not alone when we feel uncomfortable reaching — most of us feel this way
  • How so many of us feel like imposters when we reach

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast


Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky

Emotional Agility by Susan David

Lev Vygotsky

Carol Dweck

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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