A German soldier who jokingly called for a coup is now facing charges of incitement to commit a crime! The soldier said during a UN mission seminar on May 12th in Wildflecken, Bavaria: I’m fed up that 200,000 soldiers have been placed under general suspicion because of two crazy guys. The Defense Minister has lost all credibility for me – we need to address that or have a putsch. The Bundeswehr (German military) has since filed criminal charges against the soldier for incitement of a criminal offence.

The lieutenant-colonel had criticized Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen for making a blanket statement against the attitude problem of troops after it was revealed that two soldiers and one civilian were plotting a far-right terror attack.

The far-right plot began to unravel in April after investigators revealed that one of the soldiers, Franco Albrecht, had pretended to be a Syrian refugee and managed to gain asylum, despite speaking no Arabic. He and two others planned to blame their attack on his fake refugee identity.

Von der Leyen’s criticism of the Bundeswehr in the wake of the revelations outraged a number of military personnel at the time.

The lieutenant-colonel in Bavaria said his call for a coup was a satirical exaggeration and that when he made the statement, the whole room laughed.

Nevertheless, the lead inspector at the barracks reported him to the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD), and all seminar participants were questioned about the coup statement.

Public prosecutors in Bonn must now decide whether to open an investigation. If the lieutenant-colonel were to be convicted, he could be jailed, fined or be dismissed from the Bundeswehr.

The extraordinary variety of human personality can be broken down into the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits, namely neuroticism (how moody a person is), extraversion (how enthusiastic a person is), openness (how open-minded a person is), agreeableness (a measure of altruism), and conscientiousness (a measure of self-control).

Many people are hesitant to step out of their regular roles and routines. The idea of putting yourself in a position to potentially fail can be frightening or stressful. But sometimes what’s keeping you in one spot may not be your own self-interest. In fact, other people’s wishes and the feeling that you “should” stay put may be tamping down your own preferences. What’s holding you back may be compliance, not comfort.

We’ve seen this many times. People have pursued one path in life — influenced by their culture, parents, or sense of what they “should” pursue — that leads them to invest time, money, and skill development in a path that is very hard to escape from.

For example, consider the case of Carla. From a young age Carla had an interest in the arts. As a child, she loved to read and write, and as an adult she was a voracious reader and loved contemporary art, theater, and dance. However, her parents told her that she should be taking on a more conventional job, so she considered these interests merely a hobby, something she’d get to if she had the time. In the meantime, she pursued a career in law.

She didn’t hate law, but her heart and soul weren’t fully in it. At some point, despite her many years of schooling and practicing law, she decided to take the leap and try something else: becoming an underground arts entrepreneur.

Her transformation didn’t happen overnight, and it was accompanied by a cocktail of emotion. She felt relief, but also fear, dread, and a bit of guilt. She knew law — it was comfortable, predictable, and, frankly, she was good at it. But the arts were her passion, and over time, as she transitioned, tentatively at first and then head-on into the underground arts scene, her passion took off. Today she’s happy, fulfilled, deeply creative, and living the life she feels she was meant to lead. That feeling of liberation and self-actualization has only grown, six years later, as she continues to catalyze the underground arts scene.

This sense of freedom doesn’t restrict itself to career moves: I have found a similar phenomenon with people I’ve helped adapt to behaviors across cultures, especially those who felt that in their native culture they had to stifle their personality and behavior to conform to the local cultural norms. When they were free from these norms and in a different culture, they could finally be themselves. I see this with some MBA students who weren’t allowed to speak up in class in their native countries because no one wants to contradict the professor — and it’s simply not part of the culture. But in U.S. classrooms they can unleash that side of themselves. They can raise their hands, speak their minds, question authority, and, most of all, be themselves.

Every instance of stepping outside your comfort zone won’t lead to an incredible sense of discovery and liberation. But it may happen when you realize that what you thought was your comfort zone is, in actuality, your compliant zone — where you’ve learned to behave in ways that you were expected to behave, perhaps by your parents, or your extended family, or your culture. Over time, through repetition, and by dutifully fulfilling others’ expectations, you internalize these behaviors as your own, even if they don’t actually reflect who you are.

How can you tell when your comfort zone may actually be your compliant zone?

  • Pinpoint your area of focus. Identify one specific thing to question, whether it’s something you’re unhappy with or something you want to grow or develop.
  • Take a quick inventory of your personal values and passions. What are you passionate about? What drives you? What would you love to do, and what do you care about doing if there was nothing getting in your way?
  • Compare your passions to the activity you’re examining. Can you see your own values and driving passions in this activity somewhere? If you can, it’s probably not compliance — or at least not fully. But if you struggle to find yourself anywhere, you may be in the compliant zone, and it might be time to reassess and consider whether a change is in order.

Of course, there are certain tasks we simply have to do in our jobs and lives in order to fulfill our regular roles and responsibilities. We might not want to network or make company-wide presentations, but we know we have to. We might not want to work all weekend, but we’re compelled by the boss’s orders. On a granular level, compliance is a core element of the working world. But when compliance systematically overrides your personal passion, that’s when it’s critical to examine on a broader level whether you’re living the life you want to lead.

Our habits and routines are hard to break for a reason: They ground us and bring predictability to our lives. But avoiding new situations can hold you back. Stepping outside your comfort zone can help you build new skills and gain confidence. And by identifying and escaping your compliant zone, you can discover your “true” self — the part of you that reflects your authentic passions and interests and leads to a more fulfilling life.

Dealing effectively with emotions is a key leadership skill. And naming our emotions — what psychologists call labeling — is an important first step in dealing with them effectively. But it’s harder than it sounds; many of us struggle to identify what exactly we are feeling, and often times the most obvious label isn’t actually the most accurate.

There are a variety of reasons why this is so difficult: We’ve been trained to believe that strong emotions should be suppressed. We have certain societal and organizational rules against expressing them. Or we’ve never learned a language to accurately describe our emotions.

When people don’t acknowledge and address their emotions, they display lower wellbeing and more physical symptoms of stress, like headaches. There is a high cost to avoiding our feelings. On the flip side, having the right vocabulary allows us to see the real issue at hand–to take a messy experience, understand it more clearly, and build a roadmap to address the problem.

Broaden your emotional vocabulary. Words matter. If you’re experiencing a strong emotion, take a moment to consider what to call it. But don’t stop there: once you’ve identified it, try to come up with two more words that describe how you are feeling. You might be surprised at the breadth of your emotions — or that you’ve unearthed a deeper emotion buried beneath the more obvious one.

It’s equally important to do this with positive emotions as well as negative ones. Being able to say that you are excited about a new job, not just nervous, or trusting of a colleague, not just he’s nice, for example, will help you set your intentions for the role or the relationship in a way that is more likely to lead to success down the road.

Consider the intensity of the emotion. We’re apt to leap to basic descriptors like angry or stressed even when our feelings are far less extreme. A man was struggling in his marriage; he frequently described his wife as angry and got angry frequently in return. But every emotion comes in a variety of flavors. The man saw that there were times that she was perhaps just annoyed or impatient. This insight transformed their relationship because he could suddenly see that she wasn’t just angry all the time. This meant he could actually respond to her specific emotion and concern without getting angry himself. Similarly, it matters in your own self-assessment whether you are angry or just grumpy, mournful or just dismayed, elated or just pleased.

People who write about emotionally charged episodes experience a marked increase in their physical and mental well-being. Laid-off workers who delved into their feelings of humiliation, anger, anxiety, and relationship difficulties were three times more likely to have been reemployed.

Over time those who wrote about their feelings began to develop insights into what those feelings meant (or didn’t mean!), using phrases such as “I have learned,” “It struck me that,” “The reason that,” “I now realize,” and “I understand.” The process of writing allowed them to gain a new perspective on their emotions and to understand them and their implications more clearly. Once you understand what you are feeling, then you can better address and learn from those more accurately described emotions.

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