In December 2014, I was invited to be a guest speaker at TedxUChicago.
To think that in a span of a decade, I had gone from competing in a stadium full of people to delivering keynote speeches for audiences at a university.
Being my first public speaking experience and all, I was pretty nervous, yet the process of research and preparation for my script was surprisingly gratifying.
Process has been a mainstay in my mental routine since my days as an athlete, and it served me well plenty of times during moments of anxiety.
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The world is a very different place now than it was in 2014. And yet, the same anxiety I faced back then is perhaps the same uncertainty we are all dealing with today.
Normally, I’d be talking to athletes and filming in three different countries with the ONE Warrior Series crew.
However, since a fast-spreading global health crisis has taken hold, air travel has ground to a halt and self-isolation is in effect.
Now that we find ourselves greeted with a silence of a situation that might last indefinitely, I’d like to lend my voice in a different capacity.
Jonathan Fong and I recently debuted a video podcast that we are calling Franklin Speaking – an intellectual discussion which aims to draw on the expert opinions from select guests of diverse backgrounds.
This project has been in the works for some time, but my hope is that launching it during the pandemic will enrich your life and help you leverage a contemplative mindset while we have the time now to think deeply.
With the COVID-19 mandated separation that could possibly wear on for months, the team and I are embracing this abrupt process of improvisation.
We have always explored the idea of alternative content verticals, but found ourselves frequently limited by time and resources due to a tight schedule.
This disruption has provided us with an opportunity to refocus our efforts into perfecting this video podcast. Still, there were some challenges involved.
In light of the impending lockdown, we had to make some creative arrangements to keep things up and running.
All of our camera, lighting, sound, and video equipment was moved into my apartment, which is now retrofitted into a makeshift studio.
These inconveniences are far from ideal, but nothing in our current circumstances is ideal. It is a small aggravation compared with the real devastation this pandemic has caused globally.
Our first guest on Franklin Speaking was my former mental performance coach, Brian Cain. Brian is the foremost authority on mental performance mastery and helped shaped the process-oriented mindset behind much of my success in mixed martial arts.
The idea was for Brian to give listeners an insight into what he refers to as the ten pillars of mental mastery – foundational blocks for high-level performance.
One key block that really stuck with me was the concept of signal lights.
Brian used to emphasize how your specific emotions and physical responses are like signal lights, which can be contagious to the people around you – like cornermen in-between rounds of a match.
I preside over the OWS team, a full roster of athletes, and staff. As their leader, I recognize that my response and actions in these times of uncertainty can either communicate the right or wrong signals.
Following in my stead, we have redirected ourselves and have become so focused on this process that it has turned into one of the most productive periods for our team.
Each of us constantly striving for a higher standard of excellence has been foundational to delivering a quality podcast.
Amid the bleak headlines and dour sentiment bred these days, we hope that Franklin Speaking evolves into a forum to make sense of trying times and challenges – even when there might not always be a direct answer.
Until a sense of normalcy is re-established, let this be a time for introspection, education, and reinvention. Stay safe, everyone.