Are you happy and content with the way your life and career is going? Most of us are not. We have dreams and what we think are our goals, but is this really our soul destiny?
In his book, The Hollywood Commandment, DeVon Franklin, now a successful producer, gives guideline rules for achieving what you want. I was always told the Lord helps those who help themselves. Therefore it makes sense that one of Mr. Franklin’s first commandments is that Prayer Alone Is Not Enough. Sometimes we think we want one thing and head down that road. Nothing happens. Or if something is happening, it feels too slow. Today’s society wants everything NOW. Frustrated and unhappy we want to give up.
Too many of us, especially in the creative fields, perceive that our successes are at the mercy of others, but this happens for almost all of us no matter what we are seeking- a better job, our soul-mate, a pregnancy or even that beach house in Malibu.
Often we pray to God to create what we want and what we feel entitled to what we believe we should have. Sometimes desperation overcomes us and we become hopeless. We lose our faith. “It’s crucial that we continue to pray and praise God even when we are depressed, angry, frustrated or feel hopeless. Maybe what you want isn’t right path you’re supposed to take. Or maybe you need to do something more to assist the process forward.” The Biblical story of Job is an excellent example.
So if you want to be an action star than sitting on the sofa watching TV won’t achieve that goal no matter how hard you pray. You need to go to the gym and be ready for when the call comes. We have to have faith and prepare and work for what we want. We have to be silent and listen to our hearts to be sure that this is the correct path for us to take.”
Sometimes we head one way, as in the case with DeVon’s actress wife, Meagan Good. She had felt she should be good in sports and wasn’t so she turned to drama only to discover that her real mission in life was to bring joy through her acting. The Lord had given her a talent for acting that she hadn’t realized until she was willing to make adjustments in her path.
Inspiration to write this book came to DeVon because he saw so many unhappy people ignoring their souls while wallowing in fear and frustration. Stuck in submission they did things that did not feel right for them but conformed because they believed self-preservation meant they had to.
Growing up in a ministry family, DeVon began to preach at the age of 15. It was what his family wanted him to do. And while he enjoyed that role, his heart yearned for something else. He believed his mission was to entertain people. One of his commandments is to get rid of the negative people around you.
Often – as in the movie Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith – people (especially family) feel that if they did not succeed at something than you won’t either. Either they’re jealous of your passion and your drive or maybe they think they are protecting you from failure. The fact is there no such thing as failure. It is a merely a learning experience but it’s something hard for many to accept. “Don’t let anyone take your dream away even if it means you have to go it alone. When you have a dream you have to protect it and work at it. You have to put effort behind what you believe in.” (Again prayer alone is not enough.)
So at the age of 18, DeVon Franklin pushed forward toward his goal in one of the most secular (and some religious people consider evil) places – Hollywood. All the while he kept his faith and tried to listen to God’s voice. Accepted to the UCLA film school, he instead had a sense that it was not the right place for him and attended USC’s business school instead. As it turned out it was here that the door opened for him to intern with Will Smith’s company – something that might not have happened if he had gone elsewhere.
Another of his rules is Your Difference Is Your Destiny. DeVon Franklin insisted on keeping his religious values and traditions while working the business. As he interviewed for the internship at Will Smith’s company he knew that he would not be happy if he had to compromise his faith. He told the human resource person that while he knew he could be an excellent intern, but he as a Seventh Day Adventist he would not take the position unless he could take the Sabbath (Friday night through to Saturday night) off. Not only did he get the job but he excelled. DeVon set about learning what their unmet needs were and how he could help meet them. His uniqueness helped him to stand out in people’s mind.
Progress toward his desired dream didn’t happen all at once. It took persistence. He had to learn the business, he had to take opportunities where they came and absorb the knowledge even though some might have thought the opportunity not worthy of him. He found ways to absorb knowledge from everyone and everything. Many famous religious figures – Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, etc., have stressed that every individual you encounter has something to offer and should not be overlooked by your own prejudices.
His plan had been to be a producer by the age of 22 but he had to have patience. His journey to success took many years of hard work and preparations as he learned the rules of the business. Nevertheless, the trailer of what he saw as his future life remained on the screen of his mind as he evaluated each opportunity, respected the knowledge of everyone around him, and refused to let his work compromise his faith.
He also knew that even though he was scared of the future, he wasn’t going to let fear run his life. “Too many people let fear run their lives. If the Lord had the plan for me to do what I thought I would be doing, I just had to trust.” It was for this reason that he left Sony when he felt he wasn’t participating at the level he wanted to. Without knowing what was to come next in his life, he gave his notice. Everything turned out as it was supposed to and within weeks he was offered another job.
Balancing his commitment to his unwavering faith with his Hollywood career made him unique and helped him to cut through the path to his destiny. He entertained only stories that were uplifting and positive as The Pursuit of Happyness, Heaven Is For Real, Miracle From Heaven, and The Karate Kid. “I’ve discovered you can be wildly successful without losing your faith.”
Now at 37 he is considered by Variety as one of the top ten producers and runs his own company at 20th Century Fox producing inspirational films that educate and uplift people.
Probably my favorite commandments is You Must Master The Walk Of Fame. The spotlight shines, but it also burns. Many of us set ourselves up for failure by believing our own hype. Not only do we need to know how to handle fame when it comes and not be arrogant but to know how to praise others and give back what we have received.
Praise is about encouraging others, he says, and helping people overcome their fears. The more we lift each other up and assist other, the more good returns to us. Of course, we also have to praise the source of our goodness as well. As my rabbi Jonathan Bernhard said at the Rosh Hashanah service last week most of us have GDD – Gratitude Deficiency Disorder. That is we do not appreciate what we have or thank the originator of the seemingly small miracles around us. We are so immune to the goodness around us that we become demanding, negative and feel entitled without doing work for what we want and without realizing that we must give back. So instead of praising we complain and believe we have done our job. It is thoughts like these that attracts negativity to us.
The Hebrew sage Hillel said “If I’m only for myself, who am I? If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” We have to balance our lives as The Hollywood Commandments suggests.
There are so many more great rules in the book as how to be of value to others, how to keep fear from holding you back, how to negotiate for what you want and need, to understand your value and give value to others, and what is required of you for success.
While DeVon Franklin’s book talks about being a Christian, the fact is all his rules apply to everyone and any religion. All of these can be found in the Torah (the Jewish rule book) as well as other religions, too. The fact is we must all listen to our hearts and what our higher power tells us. We must appreciate what the Lord has given us and know how to give back.
We all have missions in life but most of us are only vaguely aware of what that mission is. Do you know what your mission in life is? My own is to entertain while educating. So what is your soul required to do today? And what is it that you regret not doing?
Don’t sit and wait. Do something positive toward your dream. Overcome your fears. If one path isn’t working than listen to where you are being led. Take courage and pursue new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to walk out if something is not right. Keep your hope and preserve your dreams even when circumstances seem difficult. Failure is only another learning experience to improve you or redirect you.
DeVon has successfully integrated his spiritual and professional life — and so can you. You don’t have to be in Hollywood. The principals in the book can apply to any goal you might have.
For more information about DeVon Franklin check out his website where he gives inspirational lectures and tips. You do not have to be Christian to enjoy this book or learn from it, you just have to be human and listen to your higher power.
Be blessed and go forward.