I came across a new website today called Live on Purpose Radio, which is a weekly podcast series by Dr. Paul Jenkins, a psychologist. The particular podcast I found was an interview with Frank Abagnale, a famous American conman turned FBI-consultant. His life was the basis for Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Catch Me if You Can.” (Leonardo DiCaprio played Frank Abagnale.) If you haven’t seen the movie or read his memoir of the same title, definitely check those out. In the meantime, I highly recommend listening to this hour-long interview.
In the interview, Frank says he does not consider himself a genius, but rather an opportunist. I find that ridiculously modest, but maybe he really means it. He also reminded the listeners that although the movie made his life seem glamorous, there were plenty of nights where he cried himself to sleep because he was all alone and couldn’t go home because he was on the run from the law.
While these were fascinating peeks into his life, what struck me most were his commentaries on morals and ethics in our modern lives. Here are some of my favorite Frank Abagnale’s life lessons:
Children need to be taught right from wrong.
Frank says that one of the reasons he was able to reform his life after prison was because his parents instilled a deep moral compass in him. He admits that he always knew what he was doing was wrong, but he had ways of justifying it when he was young. After all, he was just 16 when he left home.
Children will make mistakes, and it’s the parents’ job to provide love and unconditional support even when the child goes astray so that he or she can find her way back.
We are all capable of turning our lives around if we have the desire.
Frank is living proof of this lesson. Our country is wonderful in that it allows us second chances. Changing habits is never easy, but it can be done.
One of the heartbreaking commentaries on this topic was when Frank talked about his time in different prison systems. In all his time in the American prison system, he never once heard someone talk about how he was going to change his life for the better when he got out. To the men Frank met, prison was all about networking the next big scam.
Frank also spent time in the French prison system and although he wasn’t physically tortured, he said it was such a truly horrifying and abysmal experience that he truly would do anything not to be sent back to a French prison.
In contrast, in America’s correctional institutions, inmates are guaranteed showers, hot meals, and medical care when they need it. It can become a much more comfortable life than getting out on the streets and struggling to find a job, pay bills, pay utilities, etc. This creates a system where criminals have a better quality of life than poverty-stricken, law-abiding citizens. How screwed up is that?
Real men cherish being a family man.
Frank says real men give the wives and children lots of hugs, kisses, and affection on a daily basis. Real men look forward to coming home to their family and supporting their children. Real men are faithful to their spouses. They take their commitments to family seriously. Real men are not afraid to be called “Daddy” indefinitely. If a man can help raise successful, independent, respectful, moral children, then he has achieved the greatest success there is.
Frank’s commentaries reminded me to put family first, know that I have the power to change my life at any time, and always rely on my inner moral compass.
I accomplished two of my three most important things:
Tomorrow’s 3 Most Important Things:
- Follow up on freelance work submissions.
- Write a thank-you note.