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Learning to Let Go

By August 11, 2013

Marcus Hopkins In RubberI am a control freak.  Anyone who's ever worked an event with me can attest to this.  As a event producer, every detail is of vital importance to me - I spend months preparing and filling in slots on shift sheets; each job has a description and a timeframe; every person has a role to play, and that role is explicitly defined (whether they like it, or not).

The problem with being a control freak is that I literally must be on top of everything and everyone at all times.  When it comes to events that I produce, I am the Leather version of the oft feared Bridezilla behind the scenes, but in front of the audience or when I'm circulating through the crowd, I put on a performance that would win me an Emmy in half the time it took Susan Lucci.

While this sort of meticulous attention to detail often leads to wonderful events, it just as often breeds hostility amongst those who do not fare well in that sort of environment.

I ended up a control freak largely as a result of growing up in the performance world - singing, dancing, acting, playing...in the world of performance arts, control freaks produce the best results.  For me, there is no room for failure.  When you're dealing with other types of people, particularly those who insist on "going with the flow," it's often difficult for both parties to understand where the other is coming from in terms of how they deal with one another.

As a performer, you are constantly analyzing your performance.  For me, that carries over into my event production.  After every event, I like to have a "debriefing session," wherein those in charge of various aspects of the event come together to discuss things that went right and those that went wrong.  Anyone in show business will tell you that this is an invaluable tool for self-assessment, growth, and forward momentum.  It can also be very hurtful to hear, particularly when the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

One of the hardest lessons I've stuggled, and still struggle, to learn is how to simply "Let go;" to let the chips fall where they may; to delegate important tasks to other people and, most importantly, to allow them the opportunity to fail.

Perhaps the most distressing trend in American society, in my not-so-humble opinion, is that we no longer see the benefit of failure.  Everyone has to be constantly praised; you can't criticize; no one can be the "loser."  "Self-esteem" has just blown the whole concept of "success vs. failure" to shit.

Without failure, we never learn; without defeat, we begin to accept mediocrity.  If you never know, understand, and admit what you've done wrong, how will you ever know how not to repeat the same mistake?

With the Leather Community, I feel we frequently make this mistake, particularly when it comes to our gatherings and events.  Because almost every Leather event is staffed by volunteers, it's very difficult to criticize the work of the unpaid.  This does not mean, however, that assessment should not be done.

Some of the worst fights I've gotten into within Leather organizations have had to do with post-event debriefing, largely because no one wants to be culpable for failures.  If money goes missing, we try to find someone else to blame; if we go over budget, we try to pin the blame on someone who had no control over it; if we're short on volunteers, we blame the......you get the picture.

This is why I am a control freak.  If I am completely in charge of virtually every aspect of an event, from gathering raffle prizes, to decorating, to staffing, I am the one who is responsible if something fails.  In my experience, giving in to the calls from the rest of the group and delegating major tasks to people has rarely worked out in my favor, and yet, even though I acquiesce and allow others to fail, the blame ultimately falls upon me because I didn't rip the task away from them and do their job for them.

Perhaps the most ironic part of my tendencies, for me, is the fact that my sexual proclivities range not simply on the submissive side of the spectrum, but the "completely immobilized and dominated" tip.  My favorite bondage activity has always been sensory depravation, not because I like the constriction or even the bondage, but because it's the one chance I have in my head to actually "let go," because I am in no way in control.  I've fallen asleep in more than one sleepsack, most hilariously during a demo at the 2010 Olympus Leather convention in Los Angeles.

I've passed out in slings (which isn't technically being a "sling lizard," as I was snoring and not actively involved); I've gone to sleep curled up in storage boxes; I've gone to sleep in suspension bondage.  For me, it's literally the ultimate catharsis.

However much I might enjoy this respite, I know that it does not extend into my professional life.  It's hard for me to "let go" when it comes to my reputation, and one of the other hard lessons I had to learn was that sometimes, in order to preserve friendships and, for lack of a better term, "unit cohesion," I have to let go of doing what I do best and let others do things their way.  Whether "their way" is better or worse is largely a qualitative matter...except when it comes to turnout and financial results.

I leave you with this parting thought:

We in the Leather Community often wax rhapsotic about the way things "used to be," but I wonder if much of that posturing isn't really more to do with whether or not we just need to "let go."  We hold on to doing things a certain way because "it's tradition" or because "we've always done it that way;" but is that really reason enough not to just "let go" and give someone else the chance to lead?