Photo: Courtesy of Frank Thomas
Interview by Victoria Scott J.D.
RISE: Even Death Can’t Stop Me
Your past does not define your destiny. This is something Frank Thomas knows all too well. In his childhood, he was reared in poverty and drugs which almost altered the purposeful life he lives today. A life where he has authored his own journey to rise above challenging circumstances. Find out why this consultant, coach, trainer, and the speaker believes it is important to share one’s shame and how doing so allows a person to write the end of their story.
Please tell us about your experience as a young man which totally changed your destiny.
I grew up in poverty to teenage parents who had addictions. I ended up being impacted by those addictions because my mother became a drug dealer. I made bad decisions from what I saw people around me doing. At the age of nineteen I was facing 60 years in prison for a crime my mother committed. She got scared and turned her back on me and I was taken to jail for drugs that belonged to her. The experience taught me how to fight for my life which in turn became a critical turning point in my life.
While on this journey, what have you learned about pride and humility?
Two of the things I have learned is your past does not define your destiny unless you allow it to and people are greater than their circumstances. We all fall short, we all make mistakes, but we can all rise above them if we choose to. It requires a great deal of humility. No one is successful to overcome the challenges that life brings us without helping other people. Pride is something that can keep a lot of people from sharing their worst experiences and keep them from truly rising to fulfill their destiny. It’s important to make sure you don’t allow those things to define who you are and that you actually use those experiences as fuel or as a weapon to get to your ultimate destiny.
Why do you think it’s important for people to tell their own stories, particularly those involving personal shame?
I recently read a book by Dr. Brene Brown who is a licensed clinical social worker. She has a quote in her book that reads, “When you share your story you get to write the ending.” It is so important that people understand this. When you hide in shame from a story where you feel like people might judge you or would cause you to become disconnected, hiding it only allows them to write the end of the story for you. But when you own it and you say, “Hey, I made this mistake. I did this thing wrong. I own it. And now I’m going to write it. I’m going to make it better.” That is the ultimate in accepting the power that you have to overcome your obstacles.
You gained a heightened sense of freedom since telling your story to the world through a video. You did so without speaking, instead communicating with cue cards. What does that freedom feel like and how has your life changed since then?
The freedom really came before the video. The video was just validation of what I already knew to be true. I knew my story was powerful and that it would help people who are hiding in shame. People who have allowed fear to keep them playing small in life. What the video has done for me at this point is it has created speaking opportunities and book sales. Overnight I went from a relatively obscure unknown person to someone who instantly had a voice with thousands of people and I take that as an honor, privilege and responsibility.
Recently you wrote a book titled RISE: Even Death Can’t Stop Me. Tell us about the book and where we can purchase a copy?
The book is my journey. It is a journey to overcome one little boy’s struggle to walk into his destiny. While my story isn’t the same as everyone’s story, it resonates on a deeper level in how people deal with shame, fear, and mistakes. It’s where people feel like they have dreams that almost seem unrealistic or unachievable, but there is something burning on the inside of them to want to step out and make those things happen. This book is for anyone who knows there is something greater to achieve in life and who refuse to settle for anything less than God’s best. I am excited to release this book to the world and play my part in helping people to overcome things that would keep them from playing small.
You can purchase a copy of RISE: Even Death Can’t Stop Me on the official website for Frank Thomas at frankthomasstory.com
Frank and his wife, Erika, reside in Los Angeles, California with their two children.