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Draw A Wider Circle

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Writing my book, How Fathers Change Lives, I interviewed a young lady named Lori Holden for one of the stories. It’s called, Draw a Wider Circle, and I believe it’s particularly relevant to today’s times. 

My book is about the lessons fathers taught their kids, the ones that made the biggest positive difference later in their life. Each dad’s wisdom was shared with me by their daughters and sons after they had a chance to look back and assess what helped them the most.  

Growing up, Lori, like most children, had typical fears. Fear of meeting new people. Fear of being injured falling off a bike. Fear of speaking in front of her class. 

Lori’s fears were in essence, fears my dad, Chubby, told me over and over again would hold me back in life… fear of embarrassment, failure, loss, pain, harm, and rejection. 

Lori’s dad taught her that whenever she felt afraid, to assess whether it was a healthy fear or a paralyzing fear. Healthy fears protect us from being foolish. Paralyzing fears prevent us from living life at a high level. 

Healthy fears keep us from driving 100mph, gambling all our money on a roll of the dice, or walking into a lion’s den. Those would be stupid moves by most any sane standard. 

On the other hand, paralyzing fears keep us from flying to Europe because it’s long, uncomfortable, and the plane might crash; or they keep us from taking a controversial position we believe in because we risk being criticized by others. 

Lori’s dad told her that whenever she felt a paralyzing fear she should immediately trigger the thought… Draw a Wider Circle. 

In Lori’s own words: 

“My name is Lori. I’d like to share what may be the greatest life lesson in the history of humankind — spoken through the words of my Dad.

Want to have a richer life? 

“Draw a wider circle.”

A bit anticlimactic, you say? Well, few words can speak great volumes. Let me explain.

I grew up with two sisters. Sometimes we came home whining, “The other kids won’t play with me!” or “They’re leaving me out!” or “Nobody likes me!”

Dad would always respond simply,

“Draw a wider circle.” 

He said it repeatedly, ad nauseam. Dad was big on aphorisms, but that’s another story.

He told us that we should not make assumptions about others. Dad constantly reminded us that other kids were scared of making new friends too, so we should be proactive in making friends and joining in on activities. Our father was determined to raise three confident and assertive young women.

As a kid, I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of impact this one phrase would have on my life. When I was the newbie at work gatherings, and everyone else knew each other, Dad’s voice would whisper,

“Draw a wider circle.”

And I would. Hand extended, I’d introduce myself and smile. At cocktail parties, when I’d rather hug the wall than interrupt a formed group, Dad’s voice echoed,

“Draw a wider circle.”

And I did. I made friends. I was included.

Ever seen the movie Field of Dreams — the voice quietly urging Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come”? This was my dad’s gift to us.

And true enough, my “field of dreams” was always within grasp, provided I listen to Dad’s voice,

“Draw a wider circle.”

I can’t remember it not working. I do remember it being hard each and every time — but always worth it. It applies to a much greater concept though, circling back to the “greatest life lesson” reference.

What happens when you draw a wider circle?

When you force yourself to draw a wider circle, as uncomfortable as it may be, you automatically enrich your own life with the only thing in life that really matters: other people and/or new experiences.

Drawing a wider circle means:

Making an effort to reach out to those you may not get along with.

Risking rejection to meet the one person who may sweep you off your feet.

Overcoming the fear of joining new groups, trying things you never thought you would or could do, and traveling to parts of the country and the world you never knew existed.

My dad grew up without a father. Maybe this forced him to “draw a wider circle” early in life. It certainly didn’t stop him from being the most incredible father three little girls could ask for.”

As we get back to work, start seeing others (in person, not Zoom), resume eating out, and maybe even consider boarding a plane and staying in a hotel, perhaps we should heed Lori’s dad’s advice… Draw a Wider Circle. 

We all must determine the initial comfort diameter of our  “return to normal” circle. Some will remain in their homes. Others will start partying en masse immediately. 

Personally, I’m going to remember advice from my dad, Chubby: It’s foolish to be foolish, but you’re not living if you don’t live. 

I will figure out my standard between being foolish and living, and then follow Lori’s dad’s advice… Draw a Wider Circle.

– Greg Hague
–Greg Hague, (a better way for home sellers) (a better way for Realtors)

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