Season 1

DeVon Franklin

DeVon Franklin joins The Audacity to Fail to discuss balance, setting expectations, and his amazing new book, LIVE FREE.


DeVon Franklin: How to Live Life on Your Terms

Feb 27, 2021
DeVon Franklin

How to Live Life on Your Terms

Oprah calls him "A different kind of spiritual teacher for our times." DeVon Franklin is a force in the media and has become a leading authority on inspiration, spiritual wellness and personal development. He is the producer of multiple hit films including Breakthrough, The Star and Miracles From Heaven and the author of The Truth About Men, The Success Commandments, The Wait (co-authored with his wife Meagan Good), and Produced by Faith. He sits on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Meagan.


(Below is a transcript of the episode. Too maintain the authenticity and flow of the conversation, it has only been lightly edited to help with context and understanding; however, because it was an unscripted conversation, grammatical errors will exist in the text.)


JQ Sirls: We are back with The Audacity to Fail podcast, hosted by myself, JQ Sirls. The Audacity to Fail is a podcast about designing your life so that great things can happen in your career, in your business, in your family, and in your personal life despite failure. We have another special guest today and I’m super excited. So without further ado, let’s get started. 

All right. All right. We are back with The Audacity to Fail podcast, and we have a special guest today. This guest is… well, I consider him like a big brother from another mother, but this is… we're talking about New York Times Bestseller, movie producer, awesome person. How about this, DeVon Franklin, our guest, tell us everything you do. Because, you wear a lot of hats, man! So what are all of your hats, and let the audience just be proud for a minute to hear it all.

DeVon Franklin: Aww man. I don't know, man.  you said them all,  I produce and write and  I don't know. I’m just here to help.

JQ Sirls: About to be a personal trainer. If you see his Instagram, he’ll be a personal trainer soon.

DeVon Franklin: I'm just here to serve, man. I'm just here to serve and help the people, you know? Help the people stay inspired and motivated and all of that.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, man. Dude, I appreciate you for being on the podcast. I'm really excited about this.

DeVon Franklin: Of course. Thanks for having me.

JQ Sirls:  Today's episode, you guys, is going to be very special. Because DeVon has a book coming out that is incredibly powerful and really unlike all the other books that you've put out, man. I mean, all the other books, they have that teaching aspect, but this one is like an instructional almost.

I’m really excited about this one. Even when… cause I have a copy and I kind-of found myself reading from the beginning to end, but I'll see certain chapters like, “let me skip to that chapter. Okay. Let me go back to this one.” And it seems like the one that you can kind of… as you're reading it, or as you're going through it, you can go to that chapter and quickly get that blessing and then go back to where you were.

It’s a really cool book. It's called, LIVE FREE. We'll talk about that a little later, you guys are going to be excited about this. To get things started and just totally dive in, how are you doing? How are you?

DeVon Franklin: I'm doing well. I'm doing good, man. I'm alive. So I,  let's just start there. I'm not doing bad, man. It's like everybody is like, “Oh, how are you doing?” It's like, “Well, look, there are people that didn’t make it today. Make it ‘to’ today.” We put that in perspective and I'm doing great.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, man. Yeah, man. That's good to hear. I look at you, and if you guys could see him right now, he always has a sunny look. There’s always this glow about DeVon at all times. You're like, “Okay…” It's always a good presence to be in front of.

So when you’re like, “I'm doing fine.” I'm like, “I believe you, I'm looking at you. I believe you.”

DeVon Franklin: I Ian’t lying. I Ian’t lying. No, I’m not. I’m telling the truth.

JQ Sirls: All right. Yeah. I got some questions here in full interview style and we'll converse through that. The first question—I’m just diving right into it—the first question is: 

What do you enjoy doing daily that doesn't involve work?

DeVon Franklin: Oh man! Oh, I,  I'm not good at this. I got to get better at this particular category, because I don't really have enough… I don't have hobbies other than working out and working. I would just have to say working out. That's probably the thing I enjoy doing that doesn't involve work. But, I think I'm in need of definitely getting another hobby or something. Because, I’m in it every day and that's what I'm focused on. I know I need to find some balance there, but working out is probably the number one thing that I love to do that does not involve work.

JQ Sirls: Every morning or evening?

DeVon Franklin:  it's like I've been mixing it up lately. I mean, most of the time, I would say 80, 85% of the time I'm working out in the morning. This past week I've been kind of switching it up and doing some mornings, but predominantly evenings. We'll just see. I just try to keep my body guessing. Because the moment you stay on routine, you plateau. I try to keep it mixed up a little bit so that we can continue to grow and continue to build. But this week I've been working out at evening time.

JQ Sirls: Yeah. Well, it's good that if you're going to do anything, working out is probably the healthiest thing to do, because that resets your brain.

DeVon Franklin: Absolutely

JQ Sirls: It even gets rid of stresses and all that. If you’re going to have peace, if you're going to LIVE FREE, it probably starts with working out.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, it does. It helps a lot.

JQ Sirls:  My daily thing has always been… I’m a super nerd. I'm always visiting comic book websites and looking up WandaVision [rumors] and I find myself diving into being a kid.

DeVon Franklin: Wow. Have you been watching that?

JQ Sirls: Man, WandaVision is crazy!

DeVon Franklin:  I don't know all the Marvel stuff, so I don't understand all the Easter eggs, so to speak, but just watching the show… I mean, it's such an inventive show. It's very creative.

JQ Sirls: They used TV shows to tell a TV show.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, yeah! I'm like, “It's out of here!” I'm like, “I don't know who created and wrote it, but they did a brilliant job.”

JQ Sirls:  Thursday night was always my weekly ritual of reset where I would go to a theater by myself. I would just see anything. And that would be my way of being in someone else's world. I get so excited to see films that a whole group of people made together. There's something so artistic and freeing about that. I get to be in your world, right? As the producer, as the director, you let me be a member of that world and I could escape mine for an hour or two. Since the pandemic it’s definitely been me trying to figure out that with Netflix etc, but then you're still home. You're tempted to pull out a laptop. I'm trying to keep that balance. 

What keeps you motivated each day to work on your goals? 

DeVon Franklin: It was probably a feeling of there’s just so much more to do. I feel like I'm on my way. But, this is a strange term because it doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like. But it's like, I know that I'm not yet where I want to be, per se. That motivation is strong in continuing to pursue… to kind of achieve the vision that I have in my head of the life that I want. And then also, I’m motivated because I have partners that I feel responsible to. I have a deal with Paramount and Netflix and CBS; a book with Simon & Schuster and Audible. I want to be a good partner. I want to make sure that I'm delivering on their investment in me and my company.  That keeps me motivated. That keeps me motivated every day to just make sure that I'm doing the things that I need to do to deliver the movies that need to be delivered and work on the book the way it needs to be worked on and all these things. I don't take people's investment in me lightly at all. That's one of the things that keeps me motivated is I'm like, I want to make good on those promises.

JQ Sirls: Fulfill your promises.

DeVon Franklin: There it is. Yup. And be a great partner too.

JQ Sirls: Okay. I also want to recap, because you said it real coy. You’re like, “Yeah.  uh, Paramount, and Netflix…” PARAMOUNT you guys!? And Netflix?! if you heard him correctly. Man, I'm so proud of you, dude! The last time we talked, you were like, “Yeah.  I got Franklin Entertainment. It’s getting in, it’s going to now. And now it’s, “I gotta deal with, I gotta deal with Paramount and Netflix.” Paramount and Netflix etc!? That’s awesome.

DeVon Franklin: I'm just saying. It’s just… it is what it is. You got a long way to go. So, you know how it is.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, but just to be in the door the way that you're in the door is groundbreaking in and of itself. Because, for those that don't know, DeVon focuses mostly on faith-based content. I'm going to say mostly, but it’s exclusively, right?

DeVon Franklin: I would say exclusively inspirational. And then faith-based sometimes is a subset of inspirational.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, yeah. There we go. Inspirational. And if you guys pay attention to anything going on in Hollywood, even if you don't know personally, it’s just rare to have that kind of support. You're still putting out movies that hit theaters, and now a Netflix deal. This is insane, dude. I'm really proud of that, because I saw how you started. I remember the Oprah interview, how you wanted to stay faith-based [inspirational] and all that. The things you did to make sure that you could be at this level. If you guys haven't read Produced by Faith, I definitely recommend you read that, where he talks about sticking to his faith and letting that be the foundation to which he grew on. To see the fruit come from that is really inspirational. We're going to talk about expectations, but that's a big one. To set expectations for people that you work with so that they're not offended or upset because you decided to take off work on Sabbath.

DeVon Franklin: Right, right. That's true. That is true. You got to set the expectation.

JQ Sirls: Then they know what they got.

DeVon Franklin: They know it up-top. You know what to expect.

JQ Sirls:  I asked that question, what are all the hats that you wear? If you all have read, The Wait, he's definitely a husband; a friend. That's the one thing I like seeing with you and Megan. You two are friends. legit friends—and married—and that's cool.

But, movie producer, author, but legit…

Are there any other hats that you're wearing or you're looking to wear, or that you're inspiring to wear?

DeVon Franklin:  Ultimately the goal honestly is to get to a place where people hear my name, they know what that means. It doesn't require the producer or this or that, you know? When you look at singular people, whether it be an Oprah or a Tyler or an Ellen… When you hear their names, you're like, “Okay, got it. I totally understand. You don't need to give me anything else.” Ultimately, that's where I'm aspiring to get to. When I'm making such an impact in the world and it's so clear what that is that it doesn't need further explanation. At the moment, I'm doing a lot of different things. I wouldn't say “different things" because they're all related to inspiration. Because I'm not limited by these titles, it’s allowed me to do a lot of different things.

In the course of one week, I'll go from leading a conversation with the CEO of NAACP, operating in my capacity as a governor for the Academy, to coaching a married couple on GMA, to being in development meetings on my next film with Eva Longoria, to having meetings for the book. In the course of a day, I can wear all those different hats, so to speak. But to me they're not really different hats. I'm just operating in different areas of my gifting.

JQ Sirls:  It's so funny that you say that and maybe it's hearing it from someone like myself, because I have definitely considered you like an older brother. So I'll say as a younger brother, I'd say, you know what you aspire to, to me, you've been there. You know what I mean? I think it's getting better at it and doing more of it. But as far as the people that I know who find out about you, we say New York Times Bestselling author and movie producer because we're proud of those things. But I think when anybody thinks of DeVon Franklin, the very first thing that comes to everybody's mind is how much they know they're going to feel better in your presence. Like everyone knows that if you go to DeVon Franklin, if you hear him, you are going to come out feeling better. I feel like every movie you've done, every book you've done, all that stuff. A tweet. An Instagram post. It always, “I’m going to feel better after consuming this.”

DeVon Franklin: That's dope. That's good.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, man.

DeVon Franklin: That means it’s working!

JQ Sirls: It's like, you're going to get better at it, but man, you you've done a good job at that already. Before I get to the next question, to kind of educate those on understanding our relationship. I'm an Adventist as well. A Seventh-Day Adventist as well. And I moved to Los Angeles in 2012, but I I left and came back in 2014. I'm from Kansas city, Missouri, and a lot of people in Kansas City, they were like, “You're going to hell Hollywood!? Oh my goodness. You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah, and everything's going to go apart and you're going to,”  “Prodigal son, prodigal son, prodigal son.” What was so crazy was everyone was so afraid of me being in Los Angeles until your interview with Oprah. I kid you not, it was like overnight, I got all these messages saying, “Oh, Jaqwan, I get it. I get it!” and I'll go, “Oh?” and they’re like, “Have you seen DeVon?” And I'm like, “No, who's that?” And they’re like, “He's an adventist too. And he's a producer. He reminds me of you. You guys should meet!” and I'm going, “okay.” (Smiling). I got links for weeks of your interview with Oprah and everybody's saying, “Oh, okay. We understand now. We get it.” I remember when I saw that interview… it was immediately after seeing it, I was like, “I think I'm going to know him.” You It wasn't even only because we share the same faith, It was just… it was almost like you kinda know the people who you might have some type of relationship with.

It's so funny that I ended up working with Touré Roberts at One Church. I did the logo the early One Church visuals, and…

DeVon Franklin: How did you get connected with him?

JQ Sirls: I got connected with him while I was in Kansas city from Chief WaKiL. A friend of mine. He's a music producer and recording artist. And he went to One Church, and at the time they were rebranding. And so he was like, “I got a friend,” they linked me up and then PT [Pastor Touré] and I talked for weeks every day to figure out the branding structure. Like all the branding is different now, but if you guys check out how One Church and the Arc was, I did the branding for that.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, yeah. I remember it. It was dope.

JQ Sirls: I did that right before I moved. PT said he was going to link us up [after seeing the Oprah interview], because I was like, “Hey,  this DeVon Franklin… He preached at your church. Can you link us up? We share the same faith and he's the only person I know in LA who’s an Adventist.” I didn't know of any Adventist churches in the area. The main reason I wanted to talk to you is to find out a cool church, because everywhere I found was kind of corny. I just wanted to know about a cool church. Eventually, you preached at the old One Church building—the smaller one—and I’m get into the story mode and a little closer to the mic. 

You were preaching and at the time I was homeless. But at this time it was more like I was couch-surfing homeless. And I was at the point of… I kid you not, I was really at the point of chucking my laptop away in a trash, throwing my phone away and accepting being just homeless and shut everything out. It was one of those situations where you soo back-against-the-wall, the stress, the depression, and you're like, “forget it.” I was really close to that point, and I forget what your whole sermon was about, because you said something that stuck with me. I mentioned it on the very first episode of this podcast. You were talking about people's dreams cause that's One Church. A lot of dreamers go there. You said, “Maybe everyone should pick their dream based on the storm they can handle. Sometimes, you're so focused on the thing that you're good at, but you can't make it through the storm. So maybe you need to pick your dream based on the storm because you’ll know that can at least make it through it.” 

I talked to you about this early and you were like, “I don't remember it.” 

DeVon Franklin: I don't remember that at all. That's deep though.

JQ Sirls: I sat down and I thought about what I was going through. And then I thought about every other profession. How I'm not equipped for that. And I thought, you know what? I can make it through what I'm doing right now. It was right then that my first experience of talking to you was something that changed the trajectory of where I'm at right now to be at a place where I'm right now talking to you on my podcast to help others do the exact same thing.

Thank you for that. But that's also that's also how we met. Because it was that day that I sat down and I said, “Hey DeVon, I'm JQ.” That was the day we met. Yeah. I thank you for that.

DeVon Franklin: I had no idea what you were going through. No idea, man. It's amazing! look at God.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, man. That literally shifted everything. I ended up really sitting down and going, you know what, let me look at what I'm doing right now. Because I had a little entitlement too. It’s because you're in LA and you want everything to work your way. You came to LA, because you were the big dog in your city, so you’re gonna to be the big dog here and it's going to work out. Anybody that comes to LA… I think everybody deals with that for a couple of months, and then you hit a reality.

DeVon Franklin: This city will humble you. Yes, it will.

JQ Sirls: I'm going to go to the next question. And that is:

How do you have work-life balance in wearing so many hats?

DeVon Franklin: I don’t. I don’t. I don't even think about it, because it's impossible. I just try to prioritize. That's the number one thing is to prioritize. What are the things that have to get done? And then do those things. Anything that's not a super priority just gets pushed down the list.

That's something that has been more intuitive for me. I haven't really talked much about it. I talk about it a little bit in the in the new book, but that's what I do. Every day, I'm like, “Okay, what are the things I got to get done to move these different things forward?” I need to do that, that, that, that, and I just do that. But I don't treat all things equally.

JQ Sirls: Would you say that's having intention? Because I would consider that a way of balance in having a priority and being intentional about those priorities. Like, “I'm going to execute on this and that. If that means time with my wife, time to workout, time to eat, time to sleep, etc.”

DeVon Franklin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, definitely intention is important. There's absolutely no doubt, man. You gotta have intention. Without intention you will never aim in the right direction. Yet the intent is not to be balanced in that way. It's like I get the concept of it, but the practice of it, but I don't know how to do that. I don't know what that means. Maybe, the balance is just in terms of the response to different things. To be more, “Certain things that are going to happen” and it's about how I respond to them, you know? Maybe there’s room for balance in not getting too upset when things don't go a certain way, you know?

But in terms of work life, it's like a smoothie. I just put it in and blend it and we work it out.

JQ Sirls: Ah, there it is. That's a quote right there.

DeVon Franklin: I don't try to parse it out. I'm like, “All right, we’re gonna figure it out.” Some days I'll do better than others in terms of hitting those priorities. And the days when I miss it, I don't get down on myself, say, “All right, well, okay, well tomorrow is another day. We'll pick it up then.” 

JQ Sirls: Moving forward.

DeVon Franklin: Yup. Gotta to do that.

JQ Sirls: That’s perfect. 

Have you and/or do you experience burnout, and is there any time notable that you can talk about where there was like, “Okay, I hit my wall here. I'm burned out. I need to take a break or I need to move on?”

DeVon Franklin:  I would say that that burnout, when I've experienced, it really is more mentally. Because I don't think I've ever physically been burned out where I just couldn't move or function, so to speak. I've had times of burnout. When I did my book, The truth About Men. This was in the spring. No, it was the winter of February of 2019, the book came out, and in an April of 2019, my movie came out and that was difficult—to do back-to-back.

I was on the road, pretty much January almost through May. It was really, really intense. That was probably the closest that I've come to like, “Okay. I'm a little burnt out here because mentally I was just… it was just… it was a lot.”

I got through it all. I hit all my marks. But I definitely felt like after that run, I was like, “Okay, I got to figure out a different way to do this. I got to work smarter, not harder. I've got to change some things.”

Coming out of that I made some life changes. I got a life coach that I still work with today. We work every other week. Yeah. Cause it's like, if you look at athletes… you look at the best athletes in the world like Steph Curry and LeBron James, so on and so forth, they all have coaches. You can't be great without a coach.

And so I just, I'm like, “Yeah. I need to apply that to life.” And so I've been working with my coach and she's really been helping me mentally prepare and navigate and handle a lot of the things that are on my plate so that I don't get burnt out. That burnout processes is a real thing. But it always comes because I'm trying to do the things in my strength that can only be done with God's strength. I'm trying to do those things that he can only do. And whenever I'm taking that on, or I think anyone's taking it on, you're going to get burned out. We are a limited resource. No matter how much energy we have, we are a limited resource. There’s but so much we can do in a day.

God's an unlimited resource; I’m a limited resource. Anytime I try to act like I'm an unlimited resource, I'm gonna get burned out. I can't do it. That's where I do try to find some balance in understanding what I can control and what I can't.

JQ Sirls:

How do you define success and how do you define failure?

DeVon Franklin: I define success as peace. It’s like, “Okay. How much peace do I have? On a day-to-day basis, moment to moment.” Okay? That's really success. Because if I'm not practicing that, then there's no amount of external success that’s going to bring me what I don't have internally. So I really, really define success as peace.

In terms of failure, I think the only failure is when you don't operate in your truth and you don't do what's in your heart. That's the only failure. If you do what's in your heart, and something doesn't work out the way you wanted it, that’s not a failure. That's a lesson. You learn something from it. "Oh, okay, great. I learned this. I learned that. Okay. Maybe I need to try again or go a different way or maybe I didn't work with the right team” or whatever it may be. But if you did what was in your heart and you were true to yourself and you were doing what you believe God was calling you to do, there's no failure.

There's absolutely no failure because you may misjudge something as a failure, but it actually sets you up for the best lesson you needed to learn in order to go where you were already designed and created to go. I think the only failure is when we don't operate in truth and we don't operate based upon what's really in our heart. That is a failure, because we never actually position ourselves to learn, to live, and to love in the ways that we were created to when we aren't really being true, and we're not being authentic, and we're not living according to what we know is right in our spirit. We're trying to please others or we were afraid or we don't, we don't want to “fail” so we play it safe. All those things lead us to failure, which has never maximizing why we were created to begin with.

JQ Sirls: Success and failure are both professors. Right? And really, when you think about the traditional sense of failure, I guess it would be more so things didn't go like you expected or things didn't go as planned. And so you consider it a failure, but even then it's a teacher. That's where this podcast, the name Audacity to Fail, comes into that space of saying, “Most of the time, people are afraid to start because they are worried about future failures.”

If you’re scared about all the things that can go wrong, then accept that they're going to go wrong. Because usually everything that probably will go wrong, it will go wrong. It probably is going to go wrong. You're probably going to fall a bunch of times because you're doing something you've never done before.

I'm married and I don't plan on being remarried. This is my one and only wife. I've never been married before, so of course I'm going to screw up. 

DeVon Franklin: You got that right!

JQ Sirls: I have a son. I only have one. I screw up all the time because I've never been a father before. You just got to accept it and walk in ready.

DeVon Franklin: I'm gonna do my best.

JQ Sirls:  I learned a lot about it from your book, The Wait. We went through your journey, cause it was just like, look, “We're in this!”

DeVon Franklin: We’re going to try!

JQ Sirls: We're going to learn together.

DeVon Franklin: Yup. Yup. Yup.

JQ Sirls: And that's why I appreciate what The Wait is about, which… actually, can you recap what The Wait is about for everybody? I was going to talk about it, but it’s best from your perspective, because it's your life.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah. Yeah, The Wait is a book that my wife [Meagan Good] and I wrote a number of years ago. It's all about the power of delayed gratification, specifically in the area of waiting until marriage to have sex. And so we talked about our relationship and our different journeys with The Wait. And also how that spilled over into other areas of our life. 

We were really blessed that so many people around the world have found the book and it's blessed them. Cause I think, out there, we're in a time of instant gratification. Everybody wants everything right now.

Not even from a sex standpoint, just a life standpoint. As a result, it is very challenging to understand the power of patience. To understand that everything that you could have or should have doesn't mean you should have it now. When it comes to sex, it's like, “Okay, well maybe not doing the things that I'm being pressured to do from culture, society, or whatever” and really trying to say, “Okay, well, I need to heal from my last relationship, and what mistakes have I made that I need to learn from and how do I set myself up for success in the future?” And so much of that has to do with the decisions made today. So The Wait is all about that. It's all about how to really put your health and your wholeness and your heart first. Those things are critical. In my experience, if you don't prioritize those things, no one else is going to prioritize them more than you prioritize them for yourself. A lot of times people will do to you what you allow them to do and what you allow them to get away with. The Wait is really a powerful way to take your power back and to live and love on your terms.

JQ Sirls: If you're part of the newsletter, The Audacity to Fail newsletter or the visit the website, you'll see all the DeVon’s books there to purchase.

DeVon Franklin: Dope. Thank you bro.

JQ Sirls: Oh. Man, come on, those [your books] are naturally a part of the podcast—everything you talk about. 

Now we're going to go into… I wanted to talk about The Wait first because we had to talk about The Wait. By the way, I designed the cover of The Wait. Just wanted everybody to know, haha!

DeVon Franklin: Yes, you did! You've done it all. You did that one, you did The Hollywood Commandments and the Success Commandments, and…  

JQ Sirls: Not the last two.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, not the last two, because those were pretty much… well, no, you did help out on The Truth About Men

JQ Sirls: Yeah.

DeVon Franklin: And then the publisher just mimic’d what you did.

JQ Sirls: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And that one, I love that one. I love that the stairs. It had that magazine cover vibe.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, it was dope.

JQ Sirls: Yeah.

DeVon Franklin: It was dope. It was dope, man. Yeah, man.

JQ Sirls: We're going to go into LIVE FREE now. I got some questions about LIVE FREE. There are parts in LIVE FREE that I wouldn't say they're chapters, but sections I guess. What would you call them? You got the chapters and you got little sections.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah. Sections. Yeah, those are sections.

JQ Sirls: I have section titles that I selected for you to give a quick recap on, because I think those are really strong and listeners would like, definitely want to check out the book, and especially read those sections.

DeVon Franklin: Nice. Love it.

JQ Sirls: Okay. Diving into LIVE FREE. Every time I get closer to the mic, you guys can hear me better because I'm excited. All right. 

What led you to write LIVE FREE and how does it differ from the Success Commandments?

DeVon Franklin:  The journey to writing LIVE FREE has been happening for years. It's been something that I've been observing about expectations and how expectations really run our life. In thinking about my disappointments and my own discontent with certain things that were happening in my life and certain circumstances and situations, I just said, “Okay, what's really happening? Why am I feeling this way?” And so much of it had to do with not the reality. It was the expectation of the reality that was distorting my emotions about reality. A lot of times we aren't actually reacting to what happened, we’re reacting to our expectation of what we thought was going to happen. And if something happens and it exceeds our expectation, we're over the moon. If something happens and it doesn't meet our expectation, we’re devastated. We ended up on this emotional roller coaster or playing emotional yo-yo.

A lot of it has to just do with not managing our expectations. We haven't set them. We haven't gotten control of them. This book is wildly different than the Success Commandments. The Success Commandments was really about, “If you’re a spiritual person, how do you find success in the secular world without compromising your values?”

That book specifically, was really a faith-based book geared towards professionals of faith, and giving them the tools that they need to go into the marketplace and be successful without compromising their morality and their integrity and their foundation. LIVE FREE is really more about a lifestyle.

LIVE FREE basically means that when we live free, we are not under the emotional, mental or physical control of anyone or anything. So when I'm living free, I am living based upon the expectations that I've set, and I don't allow anything or anyone to dictate how I feel. I am the only one that gets to dictate how I feel, what I do, and I get a chance to control my expectations and set those expectations. So often we give ourselves over… even the statement, “Oh man, that person made me mad,” or, “That situation made me mad,” okay. We don't even realize that inherent in the statement, we have given up our power to that person or that situation. You've allowed that situation to make you mad.

The only way that you can be mad is because anger is in you. That person did not bring you something that wasn't already in you. That person just revealed what was already there. Period. 

I heard Wayne Dyer—rest in peace—he’s obviously a giant in the self-help space. He talked about this idea that if you squeeze an orange, what are you going to get? You're going to get orange juice. Why? Cause it's in it. If you squeeze an orange and you want lemon juice, you're not gonna get lemon juice. Cause that's not in it. So anytime life squeezes us, whatever comes out is a reflection of what's there. If we find ourselves perpetually frustrated or angry, it means we got to resolve that anger and frustration internally. 

In my experience, a lot of times that anger and frustration is coming because there's an expectation that has not been managed. There's a disappointment because of something that didn't happen in the past. There’s a person we're trying to control, and they will not do what we want. And now we're mad. It's usually our happiness or frustration or anger ir anxiety is, I believe, directly related to an unmanaged or an unset expectation. And so the whole idea of the book is to understand what the expectations are in every main area of your life, and then giving the reader the tools on how to set those expectations for yourself so that you can live free.

JQ Sirls: I had only had three other questions, and I was like, “He answered them all.” So I'm just going to go into the LIVE FREE sections.

DeVon Franklin: Haha. Do you thing bro. I’m with you. I'm with you.

JQ Sirls:  I'm going to hit on all these sections, and then you recap, like you just did, that section.

Chapter 2. (Section) We Are How We Think.

DeVon Franklin: We Are How We Think is all about controlling our thoughts and getting control. So much of how we think dictates how we live. Going back to expectations, most expectations, start with a thought, right? “I think this is the way it's supposed to be. So then I live in that way.” But then here's the reality, if you haven't identified if your expectation is realistic or unrealistic, you could have thought an unrealistic expectation, and as a result, live in unrealistic life. Right? We are how we think. It's really about understanding our thoughts and getting control of what we're thinking in order to get control of how we're being.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, that's powerful. The second one: 

Chapter four: (section) The Pressure to Live Up to What Isn't Real

DeVon Franklin: In order to set your expectations, you have to do two things. One, you have to determine if it's a realistic expectation or an unrealistic expectation. Okay. “What is an unrealistic expectation? How do you know if it's realistic or not?” It comes down to one word: control. Whatever is within your control, I argue, is realistic for you to expect. Whatever's outside of your control, is unrealistic to expect. And when an expectation involves another party, you have to then say, “Is this an unspoken expectation or is it a communicated expectation?” If you have an unrealistic expectation and you have a non-communicated expectation, you have not set the expectation. As a result, when your expectation is not set, then you have these unrealistic ideas of what should happen, and then you feel the pressure to live up to it. The only reason why there's the pressure is because you created that pressure or you've allowed others to impose on you their expectations that you don't actually believe in or buy into, but don't have the strength yet to say, “Mom, Dad, Husband, Wife, I don't want to do that. That's not who I am.” Then you feel the pressure of living up to something that was never real to begin with. Why? Because it it never originated from your authentic self. That's what I mean. When you talk about something that's not real. It's crazy how many people feel the pressure to live up to something that's not real. It doesn't originate from their spirit—their soul. It doesn't originate from their authentic self. They feel the pressure to live up to this facade of who people want them to be and who they think they're supposed to be instead of really identifying who they really are.

JQ Sirls:  The next one:

Chapter 4: (section) The Cost of Striving Too High

DeVon Franklin:  The subtitle of the book is called Exceed Your Highest Expectations. I have every intent to motivate and empower the reader to live a life that goes even beyond what they expect. However, in my experience, that “striving energy” is the energy that depletes us and wears us out. Earlier in the conversation we talked about burnout. Truth be told, a lot of burnout comes from striving. “I want to be something so badly. I want to achieve this so badly that I am trying to take everything in my control. If it doesn't happen how I want it to happen went and how I've said it should happen, then I'm devastated. I'm depressed. I'm demoralized.” That striving energy is the energy that we have to combat.  

A good friend of mine, he's a very popular pastor, Pastor Mike Todd. He wrote a major book called, Relationship Goals. It came out last year. It's a huge bestseller. The first time we met, he said something that stuck with me. He aid, “There's a difference between striving and striding.” And I said, “Okay!” And he said, “When you look at Jesus, he never strived at all. He was never in a rush to get anywhere. He had a stride. He [Pastor Mike Todd] talks about the pace of grace. I said, “Man, I love it.” I said, “Man, you have helped me out tremendously, because I am a striver in recovery.” I was like, “Man, I got to get in that pace of grace because it's so good. That's what this chapter [The Cost of Striving Too High] is really about. We gotta get rid of the striving energy. It's depleting us and we got to get more into the peace and the confidence of where we are and appreciating where we need to go.

JQ Sirls: That's great. That's great. Uh, I have two more.  The next one is: 

Chapter seven: (section) Seeing With Godly Vision

DeVon Franklin: Yes. Yes. Seeing With Godly Vision is all about trying to see a circumstance the way God sees it. Years ago, I taught a message and I said, “We limit our vision based upon what we see naturally. Which is, “How far can I look horizontally?” And then,” How high can I look vertically?” Physically, right? And I say, “Look at it how God sees it. How is God seeing this situation? Is anything that's happening to you, a surprise to God? Is God taken aback by what's happening? No? Okay. Got it.”

When we look at things with a godly vision, we then allow ourselves to see like, “Okay, wait. Let me not get so anxious. Let me not get so frustrated. Let me not get so mad.” I'm allowing myself to have a better perspective. When we look at things with godly vision, it gives us a broader perspective on the situation.

And also the part about godly vision is to ask the question, “If I buy into the idea ideology that nothing is happening to me, but everything is happening for me, what is the lesson In this situation that I'm dealing with? What can I learn from it? What is it revealing? Why has God allowed this to happen, and what am I supposed to get from it?” Because a lot of times we are reacting to, “Ooh, I'm frustrated, I'm mad. This this person is not right. Or this job is this. Or I don't have the money!” Instead, say, “That may be a fact, but how can I grow from this? Why has God allowed it, and what am I supposed to get from it—instead of just reacting?”

I look at it with godly vision I say, “Okay, God. Tell me what I need to know. What do I get from this so that I can take this lesson, apply it, and move to the next level of my life?”

JQ Sirls: That's great, man. That's great. 

Chapter nine: (section) Expectationships. 

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, yeah. Expectationship is not really being in a friendship. You're in an expectationship. Meaning: the friends are there as long as you behave, according to what they expect. As long as you text them how they want to be texted, as long as you respond how they want you to respond, and as long as you hang how they want you to hang.

That can go for family too. You're not really in a family-ship, you’re an expectationship. It's a performance-based relationship. It’s a performance-based dynamic. That's what an expectationship is all about. I put that set section in the book so when someone reads it, they can start to identify and evaluate the people that are close to them.

“Am I really my true self or am I performing in order to keep this relationship, this friendship, or this family-ship, so to speak.” And if it is performance-based and it is an expectationship, I challenge the reader to change it, because it's draining you. It's draining you.

Whenever we aren’t our true self, we pay for it. We are the only ones that pay for it. We create this artificial life based upon people that don't really care about us. They're connected to what we do.

JQ Sirls: Yeah, man.

DeVon Franklin: If you want to see how strong your relationship, your family-ship is, and your friendship is, don't do something that they want you to do that’s not in your heart. And then see what goes up [what happens].

JQ Sirls: That's true.

DeVon Franklin:  “Hey, I love you, but I can't loan you that money.” “I love you, but I just, I can't do it. I don't have it or I'm not called to do it.” You know? “I love you, but I don't feel like doing that. I don't feel like coming. Now, you really see what’s up.

JQ Sirls: Last year from August to November, I made it a point—and I hadn't even read that part of the book—I made it a point to say “No” to everybody asking me for something.

DeVon Franklin: Nice.

JQ Sirls: literally just said “No.” I realized that to a lot of people, I'm just a designer where I thought that I was their friend. I thought was their brother. I'm saying [texting] “Hi,” or “How are you?” And then there's no response. But then later, they'd be like, “Oh yeah, I'm doing just fine. But by the way, can you do X, Y, and Z for me?” Mind you, even when you talk about expectationships, some of them are and you accept them. My grandmother always says, “You can't change anyone but yourself and how you respond to them.”

DeVon Franklin: That’s right! That’s right. And it's okay to know that what it is as long you’re okay with it.

JQ Sirls: I said no to everyone so that I could figure out which relationships were actually relationships and which one were transactions to understand the difference. And so literally I said “No.” And when I said, “No”… Some people I haven't even talked to since then. They probably won't ever call me again. I'm I go, “Okay.” Just, “Okay.”  There are some people I did hear back from him, and they were like, “Hey, just checking on you to see how you’re doing.” Oh, cool. I'm not mad at anyone. I just needed to know because you want to give the right energy to the right people for the right reasons.

DeVon Franklin: Totally! Again, we talk about reality. A lot of us are not living in reality, because we had not taken the time to really do this, which is like, “Okay, who's really, for me? Okay, I can make the choice to allow people in my airspace that aren't for me as long as I understand that. There's nothing more devastating than when you think someone's your friend, then you have a friendship, but it's really an expectationship.

JQ Sirls: Oh, my goodness. And it'll destroy you when you give too much and you find that out at the last minute.

DeVon Franklin: You're like, “Oh, wow. That's what this is. And I thought this person was really my friend, you know? I went through this when I left Sony to start my own company. People who I thought, “This is my friend.” There's some people I haven't heard from since the day they found out that I was no longer an executive that I talked to every day. Every day, man. And you're like, “Okay, that was a harsh lesson, but it was a good one. I learned a lot.”

JQ Sirls: In your head, you're like, I'd have dinner with this person. I would go to their house and have dinner. You easily, with no effort say, “Yes, of course. I'll go." And then you find out that, to them, you were just a status symbol.

DeVon Franklin: Man…

JQ Sirls:  I have two questions left. We're done with the chapter sections. 

What challenges do you still face that make you a little nervous to start, continue, or launch? 

I guess launch and start would be the same, but when I think of start, it’s something minor. And when I think of launch, it’s something big.

DeVon Franklin:  I don't have a lot of nervousness. I would say, sometimes, Hesitancy. It comes from… it's like, I'm very pragmatic, which sometimes is not a good thing, because then I think too much. And instead of sometimes just doing it and going, I'll think about it and think about it and think about it and I'll be like, “Hmm, maybe I should do this and wait?” Sometimes I think that being analytical and being very pragmatic serves me well, but sometimes it actually is a barrier, because I just don't operate in the flow and I don't operate according to what God may be telling me to do. I'm thinking it through and second guessing myself versus just going for it, you know?

And that's something that I really want to continue to work for, cause work on. There are some things that I want to do and I think they probably would happen if I was out of my head a little bit more, if that makes sense.

JQ Sirls: Do you start off just going, “You know what I'm about to attack this thing? I got it.” or, “I'm gonna attack this thing, whatever we'll be. God’s got my back. If it goes all the way or if it dies out, I'm still going to try?”

DeVon Franklin: I try not to limit myself. So, yeah. I kind of have that opinion. I'm like, “All right, let me prepare for whatever.” A couple of years ago, for example, I co-hosted this show on TLC called, This is Life Live, and it was addressing different real life scenarios. And then it was live.

I had never done live TV before. What happened was they hired me because I was authentic and real, and then they paired me with somebody who was a little more of kind of like a newscaster. Long story short, we're doing our run-throughs and they want me to be more newscastery—not be myself with the energy and all that.

I went through the reads with the teleprompter, trying to get it how they wanted it. I was like, “Ehh, this doesn't quite feel right.” But I had never done it before, so I was like, “Let me just allow myself to be uncomfortable and try it.” Long story short, I also learned that when you're live, your whole performance hangs in the balance with whoever's running the teleprompter. If they aren't up to speed with your cadence, it can be a disaster.

I didn't know that. There were three nights. The first night was fine. But the second night was a disaster, because the teleprompter person was slower. Again, I haven't done live TV, so I'm not entirely sure how to manage that. Between takes, I'm saying to the teleprompter person in the ear, I'm like, “Yo, I need you to speed up.”

They were pushing back and the director and producers didn't step in to help. So I'm like, “Okay, so here I am. Y'all want me to be live on this show and I have no support. None.” 

JQ Sirls: The idea of you being a newscaster and being like, “Hello, this is DeVon Franklin” is hilarious.

DeVon Franklin: Totally man. That's not me. That's not what you hired. Long story short, the second night was a disaster. It was so bad that they were like, “Look, we’re going to flip it.” I was supposed to handle a more complicated story on third night, and the other newscaster was going to handle a more simple story back in LA. Instead, they sent her to handle the more complicated story and sent me back to LA to handle the simple story. 

Long story short, we got it right. The third night was great and the ratings were fine. But going back to that, even back to your early question about failure, I certainly didn't fail. I learned. I said, “Oh, got it.” if someone's asking you to be something that you're not, just say “No.” Say, “You know what, I’d rather not take the job. This is who I am. It is. I'm gonna do it this way, or I’m not going to do it.” Don't want it so badly, that you compromise yourself, and I felt compromised. 

And then two, going from that moment, I said, “Oh, okay. Now what I need to do the next time I'm ever doing something live… first of all, if you ever make it through live television, there's nothing you can't do. I felt like it was trial by fire, and I learned. I'm certainly way better on TV because of that.

But also it's like, next time I have that opportunity, I know how to prepare. Now I know the questions to ask. Now I know that I need to get with that teleprompter person and read this through. Let us get our rhythm so we're good. 

I didn't know that. I didn't know anything about it. I was like, “All right, bet. I'll go out there and read.” Long answer to your question, but that was a situation where I was like, “All right, I'm gonna just throw myself out. I'm gonna see what happens and be open to it.” And I try to live that way. Never put myself in a box and be open to new opportunities. Be open to discover who I really am and what I can really do.

JQ Sirls: That's perfect. Last question, and I'm a going to preface it with this. Last year, there was a something going all over social media. It was a quote. And we talked about it in private earlier, and that was, “If it's in 2020, and you didn't figure out a hustle, then the hustle wasn't in you." Everybody from major celebrities were sharing this idea that if in 2020 through your struggle, you didn't come up with the hustle, the hustle wasn't in you.

And I saw that break a bunch of people. And it was just… you got people that were dealing with just trying to survive their loved ones dying,  dealing with COVID-19, and dealing with Black Lives Matter to turn around and have the person who inspires you the most, tell you the hustle's not in you.

That's a preface to the question. And the question goes:

For those who are dealing with that hustle fatigue, who are facing the fear to start, the fear to continue, or the fear to let go, what would you say to them right now? To help them get back on track to their inner peace. To have the confidence again in knowing that everything's okay. Go at your own pace.

DeVon Franklin: You got to live free. You can't let anyone or anything control you. Social media is a major area of emotional and mental control—physical too, in some instances. People see things on social media and physically feel inadequate. “I’ve got to go look like this or do this” or whatever it may be.

You've got to live free. You've got to live according to what's in your heart and according to how God is leading you, according to your expectations, period. End of story. Because if you are not secure in yourself, If you are not secure in your current success, then a meme on social media can completely disrupt you.

Why? Was it the meme? No. It was the revelation of your own insecurity. This is exposing that, “I’m not locked down. I'm actually not living free, because I haven't reconciled where I am made peace with it.” “Okay, maybe I want to be further along. I'm not. Let me just make peace with that.” Say, “Okay. All right. Got it. Well, why aren't I? Okay. Here's some areas that I think I can improve on. Got it. And I'm going to do that in a healthy way. I'm not going to do that because I feel shamed or I feel guilt or I feel like I'm not good enough.”

Any time we are operating out of those energies, we are always going to make the wrong decisions.

JQ Sirls: The good enough one is what broke me. All the 2020 just beat me up, but not being good enough is what got me, man.

DeVon Franklin: Does God ever think we're not enough? Never. God has never looking on us saying, “Oh man, they're just not enough. My son, my daughter. They're not enough. Oh, man. I wish. I wish… No! That’s never it. It's like, “No, I want you to know how enough you are. I want you to know how great I created you to be. I want you to know what I put within you. Don't let anybody make you feel differently. Don't let anybody tell you differently.

Don't let anything you watch or see, tell you differently. Because again, here's what happens. This is the matrix that so many people live in. This idea of, “Okay, I'm not enough. I have to do more." If you don't feel enough, you can never do enough to be enough—period. If I do not feel that I am enough and I'm trying to feel enough by doing more, It’s like I'm perpetually eating, but I can never get full. I'm just eating, eating, eating, eating, eating, but I can never get full.

Why? I can never get full because I have not actually decided I'm enough. And it doesn't matter what I do, because at the end of the day, if I don't believe it, there's nothing I can do that’s going to make me believe something I don't believe. 

Think about the most successful people in the world who have had some of the most public struggles. Why? It's not about the height that they reached, it’s that reaching those heights exposed, “Oh, wait a minute. I'm not enough. I thought that becoming more successful was going to fill the hole.” It doesn't, “I thought having more money was going to fill the hole.” It doesn’t. I thought that having more women or more men or more houses or… whatever it may be. Or more followers! Whatever you thought was going to fill the hole, it doesn’t. Because you don't feel enough, you say, “Oh man, if I just had more followers, you get more followers.” You're like, “I need more followers. I need more likes. I need more comments, more, more, more” to what end?! That's the matrix. That's the matrix people are plugged into. Hustle, hustle, hustle, grind, grind, grind, grind. Okay. “I'm more and more and more” Okay. Until what? Until when? Anyone listening right now, you got to live free.

You got to live life on your terms. You gotta unplug from the matrix. You gotta set your own expectations and you gotta be okay with your pace, because your pace is the only pace that matters. Period. End of story. You're not running against anybody else. You are in a race with yourself and God is your coach, and he absolutely wants you to be victorious. Period. End of story. And everything that comes in this race for you is to coach you on how to run, how to win, how to succeed. No lesson is to punish you or to make you feel less than. They're all lessons to make you become who you were created to be on this track of life.

JQ Sirls: That was the best ending to this episode. I hope you guys are blessed from this. I hope you guys get the encouragement to start, continue, or stop. Whatever is best for you.  You guys, check out LIVE FREE. They comes out May 4th, right? May 4th?

DeVon Franklin: Yes,

JQ Sirls: Yep. Okay. So May 4th live free. You can pre-order it now at DeVonFranklin.com or Amazon. Even the website for this podcast, theaudacitytofail.com. You'll see a link to pre-order it as well. Check it out. I've already started reading through a lot of it from the early copy I got, and It's definitely worth it. This is definitely one that you're going to continue going back to. It's not like a one-and-done. Get your highlighters ready, get a physical copy. I think you're gonna do an audio book soon?

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Record that in March.

JQ Sirls: Get an audio book and get the hard cover, because you're going to hear the audio book and hear some bars, go back to that hardcover book and highlight that section. It's definitely a double.

DeVon. Thank you so much for being on this podcast. I appreciate it.

DeVon Franklin: Thanks for having me,

JQ Sirls: I'm almost positive that somebody listening to this is feeling blessed. So this was a perfect day. Thank you so much.

DeVon Franklin: My pleasure.

JQ Sirls: Talk to you next time.

DeVon Franklin: Yeah, man, I can't wait.

JQ Sirls: Awesome.

DeVon Franklin: All right. 

JQ Sirls: Later.

DeVon's Books

Produced by Faith

The Wait

The Success Commandments

The Truth About Men

Live Free

Recommended Books

Relationship Goals

Related Episodes

For Context. Written by JQ Sirls.


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