A Mask To Loyalty

Lori Holden had the same fears most children experience growing up (meeting other kids, speaking in front of her class, trying new things).

Her dad taught her that when she felt afraid, to assess whether it was a “healthy” fear or a “paralyzing” fear. 

Healthy fears keep us from being foolish. Driving too fast. Gambling money we can’t afford to lose. Hiking into the wilderness unprepared. 

Paralyzing fears keep us from living our best life. Not taking controversial positions because we fear being criticized. Failing to start a new company because we fear losing money. Avoiding public speaking because we fear messing up.

Lori’s dad taught her to recognize the difference, and when faced with a paralyzing fear, to overcome it and “draw a wider circle.”

Sometimes Lori came home from school complaining, “The other kids won’t play with me!” or “Nobody likes me!” Instead of sympathizing with her, Dad placed the burden back on her, encouraging Lori to “draw a wider circle.”

He reminded her that other kids were scared of making new friends too and constantly urged her to be fiercely proactive in meeting new people, participating in new activities, and to purposely put herself in situations in which she was uncomfortable.

When I interviewed Lori about her lifelong pursuit to “draw a wider circle,” she admitted that it has often been difficult, but always worth it, calling it “the greatest gift my dad gave me.”

Lori’s dad not only helped her…he helped me too, and maybe others. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s really true – life is short. I am writing this on my birthday. This last year seems like it went by in a month. I hate being this old, but I love looking back on a life of adventures and memories. I believe I have lived my life more as a player than a spectator. 

Forcing myself to be both active and proactive and drawing a wider  circle (as uncomfortable as it sometimes was) resulted in some of my best adventures, successes and memories.

Drawing a wider circle also resulted in me connecting with a wealth of fascinating people, many who I’ve grown to love as friends and partners in business. Love doesn’t always have to be romantic. 

Speaking of love, do you ever think about the difference between love and loyalty? Many believe they go hand in hand. I do not. 

My son, Brian, once asked if I knew the difference. When I hesitated, he gave me his opinion: “Love is an emotion you feel, but loyalty is an act you demonstrate. It’s the reason some people see loyalty as being stronger than love.”

That reminded me of a comment by a recently divorced friend: “I appreciate love, but I would rather have loyalty.”

On the humorous side, Ethel Watts Mumford once observed, “God gives us our relatives…thank God we can choose our friends.” 2500 years ago Greek playwright Euripides said, “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” 

The way I see it? Love is a gift. Loyalty is earned. They don’t necessarily go hand in hand. 

Drawing a wider circle may often test the boundary between love and loyalty. When that boundary gets blurry (as it often does), consider my variation of a quote by Minna Atrium: 


“Love is a mask we wear to test the loyalty we hope not to question.”