I quietly open the door to the bedroom, only to find a grown-ass man hog tied with rope, on his hands and knees, subject to the mercy of her wrath.

amsterdams-red-light-district

Amsterdam’s Red Light District – November 2016

Left in shock as to what I just walked in to, I slowly close the door and back away, hoping not to be seen.

“Andrew!!!” Bara barks at me before I could slip away, “Get in here NOW!” she orders me as she whips the slave.

“Yes, ma’am!” I reply, instinctively following her every command, without question.

In this life, there are those who are leaders; and those who are followers.

You see, I was born into a people-pleasing and permission-seeking society.

  • Ask the teacher for permission before going to the bathroom.
  • Listen to your boss; or you might get fired.
  • Mommy knows best; always do what you were told.

This training carried over into adulthood, and like most people; I was conditioned to be a follower.

At least I used to be that way, until I found myself dab-smack in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District; living with a real-life dominatrix.

“What happens when you step out of line? You don’t hand in your homework on time, you don’t follow your boss’ orders?” she asks.

Bara slaps the slave with a whip.

“DON’T LOOK UP AT ME!” she snaps at him as the firm tug on leash buries his head back to the ground.

“If you don’t listen to others, you get punished.” She replied, “Time out. You’re fired. Detention.”

You see, this type of conditioning that you’ve been subject to as a child carries over to your adult life.

  • When you do what you’re told; you get rewarded.
  • When you don’t listen to others; you get punished.

It’s classic dog training.

But there comes in a time when you reach adulthood, and you are facing another fork in the road.

There are those that lead in this life, and those that follow; and society needs both types of people to function.

When you think of the ones who are getting ahead in this life, which ones are the ones that seem to rise to the top and thrive?

The leaders.

  • It’s the leaders who are the ones who make their own rules.
  • It’s the leaders who live their life on their own terms.

It’s the leaders who do what they want.

Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean to be working in management. Leadership carries over to all areas of your life.

In the past when a date asked me where I wanted to eat for dinner, the conversation went as follows, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” I said.

“I don’t know what do you want to do.”, she replied.

The conversation continued back and forth like an endless game of ping pong where nobody wins.

I must admit, up until this chapter of my life, I’ve been waiting for permission from others.

I was indecisive.

With my relationships, with my business, with my friends, with everything.

And do you know where it got me?

It led me down the path where I was being pulled in a million different directions.

“Should I do it this way or that way?” I ask anyone.

I get five different answers and I didn’t know what to do. So I was always left spinning around in place; never progressing and never moving forward in life.

Never doing what I wanted to do.

Never pulling the trigger on those big ideas and aspirations.

I’ve been told many times in my life to step up and be a leader, but it wasn’t until this experience couch surfing with a dominatrix until the lesson made sense.

“KISS THE GROUND THAT I WALK ON!” Bara orders the slave once again.

He followed without question.

“Andrew, do you know why he is listening to everything I say?” Bara continues before I reply, “Because he chooses to.”

He is choosing to be dragged and pulled around in life, and this is where it led him.

  • Hog tied,
  • On a leash,
  • Getting ordered to kiss the ground,

By a dominant Eastern-European Dominatrix.

Still uncomfortable and weirded out by what I walked into, I ask her “Can I go now?” as I proceed to close the door.

“No.” She says.

I laugh at her response, close the door, and I go.

…because that’s what I want to do.

A week later…

I’m stepping off the bus and as I’m grabbing my travel backpack from underneath, I look back and see Carina standing there waiting to say goodbye to me.

Carina is a PhD student from Italy who spent the weekend visiting Amsterdam. On the two hour bus ride to Eindhoven, we got to know each other.

“What time’s your flight?” I ask her knowing that regardless of what answer she gave me, I knew what was going to happen next.

“Oh, cool”, I replied to her answer, pretending to look at my watch. “You want to get a cup of coffee before it takes off? There’s a coffee shop in the airport.”

As she looks down at her watch, I point in the direction of the coffee shop, grab her by the hand and I lead her through the crowd.

She replies with a yes.

Carina follows me to the airport coffee shop and we spend the next half hour getting to know each other a little bit more, exchanging contact information, and parting ways.

I share this story because I used to be a follower.

When I went on dates, I wasn’t decisive. In business I wasn’t assertive. I used to let others lead me through life.

After this experience, I learned what it takes to do what I want to do, lead the way, and most importantly I learned that you can choose to be a leader, you can choose to be assertive, you can choose to be decisive.

Or you can choose to be dragged around by life, blindly following others.

So what’s it gonna be?

This is the kind of shit that happens, when a you spend three weeks in Amsterdam; living with a dominatrix.

You learn a valuable life lesson on the importance of being a leader.

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