"Zero tolerance" was in the news a lot this week, and it's also a concept we are working through in our new reporting system. Originally, I envisioned an actual grading system similar to that used in thousands upon thousands of schools, with a graduated scale from A to F. Since some of the criteria I was going to be graded on were personal goals around work and fitness, I was going to be self-grading involved. And, that is where things always seemed to break down. On few days (probably none) was I absolutely perfect, and on some but not many the only truthful grade was an F. Averaging things out every day, except on those occasions when I clearly earned an F on a criteria, I usually found myself gravitating toward something in the C to B- range. Which, if you think about it is probably about where most of usually live our lives. In fact, before the educational establishment decreed that anything but an A for showing up would hurt a kid's self-esteem, a "C" grade was, by definition, average. But, I'm not aiming for C-level performance at work or on things like fitness and health. So, I decided that maybe the grade choice should be far more binary -- I either met the rule or I did not. So, the filled out form I submitted to her ultimately had only pluses and minuses. I think that is similar to the system ZM has been experimenting with. I asked which she preferred, and she agreed that a straight up or down is better than a more nuanced A to F.
So, that's what we're doing. And, I do think that over time, knowing that I have a binary choice to perform or not perform and that anything in the middle may get me spanked will lead to better outcomes. Yet, despite putting this great new system in place, this week I went on to have several instances of carousing too much, missing workouts, and blowing off my diet. How do you reconcile those two?
I also had a couple of conversations this week that touched, in very different ways, on where things may go as I go further down this road of experimenting with a more truly Wife Led relationship. I had another one of those work opportunities involving speaking truth to power and, once again, after feeling deep inside that gnawing resistance to giving offense or going against the crowd, I spoke my mind. I wasn't mean or aggressive, but I made sure my view (which was contrary to the majority of the other execs I was engaging with -- that happens a lot) was fully heard even if it was ultimately rejected. I've been trying really hard to get more comfortable with uncomfortable encounters, which when you think about it is what most of us are hoping for from our wives. It's the essence of the conversation we had a couple of weeks ago about being "not nice." It's about setting aside your personal squeamishness and insecurities around doing things that may result in someone taking offense or feeling they are being treated unfairly, and instead simply doing what needs to be done. We want our wives to step up to that kind of "taking care of business" approach, yet I know from personal experience that it is not always an easy thing to do.
As I've noted previously, I am fully "out" to only two other people (other than my wife); one a vanilla friend and another is someone in this lifestyle but on the other side of the paddle. I talked about my current work situation with the latter of those two recently, telling her that there seemed to be some irony in the fact that at the exact some time I am consciously stepping down in the pecking order at home, I've been rising in the chain of command in my career. She didn't see it as paradoxical at all, for a couple of reasons. First, she pointed out there is a natural human tendency toward compensation, and she found it not at all surprising that as I started taking on a more humble role at home it might manifest in becoming even more driven and assertive at work. Second, if being held to standards and becoming more personally disciplined works as planned, then it really should result in elevated performance at work, which at certain levels does come to demand increased levels of "straight talk" and also more comfort with operating among people with very strong opinions. Therefore, it should not be surprising that being subject to more discipline is yielding higher performance. Duh, that has kind of been the idea all along. But, it plays out in an interesting way at my level, because performing among my peers requires speaking up and advocating positions vigorously while respecting the contrary views of your peers.
Having thought about it more, I would add a third factor to her observations, namely that being subject to strong leadership actually provides the follower with a strong, positive example that they inevitably take with them to those instances in which they themselves are leading. She leads by example, and I end up emulating that behavior at work.
If done right, this could lead to a virtuous circle in which being subject to strong leadership at home actually helps me become a stronger leader at work and in which being disciplined by someone else helps me exercise more self-discipline over time.
I was thinking about this more this morning, in relation to a somewhat nasty exchange I had a few weeks ago with a commenter who was coming from a much more Femdom orientation with its usual fixation with "topping from the bottom." It occurred to me that one reason I am comfortable with Domestic Discipline but have a visceral, negative reaction to Femdom is that on some level the two really are mutually incompatible. The goal of most DD wives is not to have more submissive, servile weakling in their house, but a more competent, more responsible, more highly performing partner. When done right, Domestic Discipline and being "led" by one's spouse but not dominated by them, actually reinforces and helps build real manliness--which is or should be all about being a strong individual who displays everyday heroism and hard work and performs as a strong role model for his sons and daughters at home and his peers and superiors at work. Femdom, on the other hand, at least the strong versions of it (there are gradations in all these power sharing relationships) is or can be all about reinforcing weakness and servility and timidity, none of which are attractive to about 90% of the female population. When done right, Domestic Discipline is about making stronger men, while Femdom accepts male weakness as a given and creates a power structure to reinforce it.
Now, I recognize that what I just said may seem a bit incompatible with my current move toward a relationship that is more Wife Led, since it really does involve me stepping away from some of my "manly" tendencies to take a more secondary and, admittedly, more subservient role. But, it goes back to some themes I discussed with the Dominant Wife friend referenced above. Being in charge is such a hard-wired part of me, bringing some balance to my life requires a very conscious step in the opposite direction. Second, if my wife is to help me become a more successful and more disciplined partner, she has to have sufficient authority to check me when either my Alpha nature or my lack of personal discipline wreak havoc or keep me from my goals. But, the overarching goals are (a) better behavior and stronger performance; and (b) personal growth on her part in that she gets to develop her leadership skills and experience the joy that comes with personal power. But, at no point is it about making me less of a man. It reminds me of something our one-time prolific commenter Marisa (who I really miss, by the way, along with Holly and some of our other female commenters who have gone missing) said many posts ago:
Yes. That "humbling function" allows you to let go of that ego, accept authority and become the ( mostly) wonderful, charming and loving men you really are. It frees you to be yourself and that is what we are after. That is also why spanking without the mental and emotional parts of it doesn't really work. The message never gets through because you are not prepared to hear it before you have been humbled.
Very well said, and it illustrates why I am interested in the "mental and emotional parts" that I think being subject to my wife's direction and authority bring to the table but that spanking by itself does not seem to fulfill even when severe.
So, there may or may not be a topic in there, but I welcome others to respond. Particularly all of our Disciplinary Wives. I am curious whether you agree with me that what you are really looking for is a husband who is more, not less, manly but with the attributes that used to entail, i.e. taking responsibility, working hard to set a good example, etc.
Finally, one quick note on comment moderation. For current posts, I have left comment moderation off except for brief periods in which trolls seemed to be taking a particular interest in this blog. But, I have always left it on for comments left on posts that are more than 14 days old, mainly because commercial parties love inserting links to their websites in comments on older posts knowing those posts may not be monitored. I mention this only because I don't always check the "awaiting moderation" queue daily, so if you comment on an older post, it may be a few days before I see your comment and approve it for posting.
Have a great week.