He was highly committed to Germany and was a military officer for many years, however, he ultimately decided and convinced a number of other high ranking Nazi officers to join the 20 July Plot to kill Adolf Hitler.
Von Stauffenberg had a very Limitless character quality of questioning the status quo of what was popular in his society. While German propaganda incessantly promised an Endsieg or ‘final victory’, Von Stauffenberg was plotting to kill his boss, one of the most powerful men alive at that time.
Von Stauffenberg’s story is excellently captured by the Hollywood blockbuster Valkyrie, which I highly recommend you watch.
Now, most, if not all of the people reading this will heartily claim that they share this character quality of questioning the status quo and thinking for yourself because present-day society really puts individuality on a pedestal, but do we really?
Ideologies: The WW2 chapter of history really illustrates the human weakness for ideologies. Humans instinctively seek ideologies to subscribe to and follow. In Nazi Germany, a single ideology was allowed, fascism, and it led hundreds of thousands of, what I assume started out as good people, to commit terrible acts that resulted in the deaths of millions. In today’s society, we have a long tail of ideologies and as much as we consider ourselves to be independent thinkers, we inevitably fall somewhere along the ideological spectrum.
So how can we truly be independent thinkers, like Von Stauffenberg? By constantly playing the devil’s advocate and being an intellectual contrarian. A contrarian is a person who takes up a position opposed to that of the majority, no matter how unpopular. Contrarian styles of argument and disagreement have historically been associated with radicalism and dissent.
After Von Stauffenberg was shot for high treason his wife had a very interesting thing to say about him:
“…one of his characteristics was that he really enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate. Conservatives were convinced that he was a ferocious Nazi, and ferocious Nazis were convinced he was an unreconstructed conservative. He was neither.”
My challenge to you: Next time you find yourself in a group with a clear ideologically leaning, be arbitrarily contrary. This certainly has the potential to make things awkward around the dinner table of a family reunion or a meeting at your church but so preface it be telling your group about Von Stauffenberg.
Why is this a Limitless character quality?
- First of all, like Von Stauffenberg, it leads you to truly become an independent thinker to rise above the popular ideologies of your society and be an intellectual individual. You are probably not going to attempt to assassinate any dictators, but this character quality will lead you to make a bigger positive impact on the world and your own life.
- Second, as regular followers of Limitless Mindset know, we are big advocates of arbitrary systems and tools (Like memory systems and the Socratic method) which force you to think more critically and engage your cognitive faculties more often which is essential to building and maintaining neuroplasticity.
- Finally, Von Stauffenberg’s story makes a great historical anecdote in any social setting and playing the devil’s advocate is a great way to liven up any social encounter.
Originally published on LimitlessMindset.com