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This will hurt me more than it hurts you.

February 2024

"This is what is hardest: 

To close the open hand, because one loves."

What is Nietzche talking about when he speaks of closing the hand because one loves?

Tough love. 

Many years ago, whilst in the army, I was sentenced to 28 days in military prison.

The guy who ran this establishment was a fearsome-looking Provost Sergeant by the name of Paddy O’Brien.

He was hard. 

Ferociously disciplined. 

He ran his guardroom, and the entire barracks, with a brooding authority.

This wasn’t my first stay at ‘Paddy’s Hotel’. Not by a long chalk.

There was a period during this visit where I was handcuffed to a 3-foot-long section of telegraph pole - 24 hours a day, for several days.

Yes, you read that right.

Paddy was teaching me a lesson. 

One that no one had ever been able to get through to me.

And boy, had they tried.

At the end of the third day carting this bloody lump around with me, I was detailed to wash dishes for a dinner at the Officers’ Mess that evening.

I was ecstatic. The log would be removed and, if I was lucky, I could drink the dregs from each glass as they came to be washed.

As I stood in the kitchen, up to my elbows in soapy water, I glanced over at the guards.

They couldn’t be less interested.

I drank one of the half-empty wine glasses. No reaction from the guards.

I swallowed the contents of every glass. Still no response.

Several hours later, I had to be carried back to the guardroom.

Next morning I awoke before the customary banging on my cell door arrived.

Unusually, I could hear parades outside. Men marching. 

It was mid-morning.

Paddy had not only instructed them to leave me to sleep but, it turned out, the entire previous evening had been sanctioned by him.

He never said a word about it. 

Over the course of my military career, I came to know him as a compassionate and intelligent man.

He genuinely wanted me to make something of myself, and was one of the few people I ever listened to in those chaotic days.

I will always be grateful for the effort he put in with me.

There are times when ‘tough love’ is just an excuse for cruelty.

But more often than not, it is as tough on the giver as the receiver.

It is, I believe, one of the most difficult expressions of love a person can demonstrate.

And often, the most necessary.


My name is Clark. I tell potential clients they'll know within 20 minutes whether we're a good fit.

And so will I.

For some, my matter-of-fact style doesn't work.

I'm cool with that.

Those I do work with prefer the straight-talking, pragmatic approach.

If you drop me a line and we decide to chat, in 20 minutes you'll know.

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