[M/s 365] Control vs. Authority – Learning new tricks

hand-hand-handAt Southwest Leather Conference this past January, we had the pleasure of attending a class by award-winning Master George and slave bren[1] – their class on “Control vs. Authority.” In a classic case of “teaching an old dog new tricks”, the class kicked over some circuit-breakers in my head and suddenly something made a whole lot more sense.

Let’s go back a couple of years when I was serving as president of the Chicago Leather Club and slave angie was the secretary. One of her duties was to prepare the minutes of the meetings. In my head, she would do them the way I wanted, present them to me, I’d give them a quick look-over and off they would go. Well, it didn’t turn out quite like that, much to both our dismay. At the time, I didn’t understand how to best show angie what I wanted, and so it became a failure-cycle of her doing it the way she imagined they should be done, and me trying to teach her by correction. You’d think I’d have known better, but no… So “the minutes” became a big pain point for both of us.

So flash forward to this class back in January and Master George is giving a consonant example of an area he struggled with micromanagement. I’m reviewing the “minutes” episodes in my head and suddenly the example that the current president of CLC handled the minutes issue came to mind. Daddy T simply gave the stand-in secretary a copy of a well-written set of minutes and said “Here, you can just follow this, as an example.”

Leadership. Give the example. Set the expectations. Give someone a measuring stick and let them do it on their own. And Daddy T trusted the stand-in, as an adult, to get it done.

In sitting in that class with Master George/slave bren, that thought tumbled into my head of how, ten years later, I had still struggled with some micromanagement and trust, especially in areas of high stress or high visibility or high expectations. I like my trains on time, I like my soldiers lined up, my puppies all sitting in a row, etc. However, to be successful in those situations, it’s not about control, it’s about leadership and shaping the world into the way I want those things to be.

So… the old dog learned yet another lesson of letting go of control and returning to authority. I think it was less a case of learning something new, and more of a case of connecting the dots. I’ve known how to set the examples through leadership at work, in other areas, and it applies in my M/s relationship too. It just took hearing another Master talk about it to give me the final thought of how to close the loop on leadership and how that translates to making the authority the driver of the relationship, even in those times of stress. Through that authority, through exercising leadership versus management, trust is built between both parties.  In the past three months since that class, authority and the trust that comes from having authority feels *very* natural.

An example of how that looks now? I’ve given slave angie a list of what’s to be packed today for our trip to Michigan. I know she’ll get it done. The situation is a bit stressful because we have had a whirlwind week and not much downtime to get a lot of things done, and now we’re packing to get back on the road. In the past, I would be pinging her a lot, checking in, ask questions, trying to exert control that IT WILL GET DONE. Now, I’ll come home, do a final look-over,  if something needs to be corrected, so be it. Correction is no big deal. This slave is far more capable than I am of getting us ready to go – so I trust her and I trust in her to come back if she has questions. A feedback loop has been established that I trust her, that I am there to lead by example, to have set up the situation for success, to have the expectation of her service and to require it.

One of our principles is “never stop growing and learning.” The journey of an authority/surrender relationship, for us, has been filled with small and large “a-ha” moments. These are the good moments, where the possibilities open up wider for us to walk on the edge of relationship dynamics. This was one of them for me.

[1] Master George and slave bren were awarded the MAsT: International “Presenter of the Year” 2014 award. They very much deserved it and kudos to them for having done a great job in 2013!

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Master Michael S

International Master 2014. Member of: Chicago Leather Club, Chicago Leathermen Group, MAsT: Greater Chicago. Longtime leatherman. One of the Four Horsemen.

2 thoughts on “[M/s 365] Control vs. Authority – Learning new tricks”

  1. This has always been such a hard concept to explain to people who don’t see ‘mastery’ in relationships that follow this path. There are many times people have said to me over the years, you aren’t really M/s because he doesn’t treat you like a slave. This right here is the crux of that – control vs authority. It’s not about control, it’s about authority. Very well written, Sir.


    1. Thank you for the kind words. M/s in general is largely misunderstood through myths and the bad stories that we read about. It’s the success stories that we hope to see more of. When people have examples of good M/s relationships, and it’s the kinky people at the dungeon or bar or event each time, that makes a different. Knowing you and your Master, I know you guys do a wonderful job of talking about your success story. 🙂


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