Trauma & Bad Decisions: What Happened to the Old Franklin?


Re-Entry, Weight, All the Way Down, and Expansion. Season 4 is off to an eventful start for the show’s protagonist Franklin Saint.

While times elapsed, the effects of Season 3 still linger. Love, life’s battlefield, has left its two participants in despair. Mel, now in Atlanta with her Aunt, still mourns the loss of her father. And Franklin, who’s making strides in his physical recovery. Has yet to heal from the emotional turmoil that accompanies a near-death experience.

The trauma of almost being killed by the woman he loves remains. The once self-assured leader is no more. Instead, the timid boy who found himself in a prison cell during Season 2 has reemerged.

Trauma, when unaddressed, isn’t stored away in our memories file cabinet. Instead, a lens that shapes the decisions we make. And as an entrepreneur, the danger of unhealed trauma is that our decisions not only shape the essence of our life but those around us.

The past four weeks, Twitter comments like “Franklin needs to tighten up” and “Get your stuff together, Franklin!” are the dominant narrative, highlighting his poor decision-making. But with every failure comes a lesson, so as entrepreneurs, we can learn much from Franklin’s journey so far. Now let’s unpack some of my entrepreneurial takeaways.


For this article, we hold these three truths to be self-evident:

  1. Leaders with high emotional intelligence get better results.
  2. Trauma has profound and lasting effects on our emotional intelligence.
  3. Emotional intelligence = Self-Awareness and Control + Empathy + Social Expertness + Personal Influence + Mastery of Vision.

Self-Awareness and Control

Adele B. Lynn defines self-awareness as demanding intimate and accurate knowledge of yourself and your emotions. Self-aware people are fully aware of their values and core beliefs and know the impact and effect of compromising. And self-control requires full mastery of your emotions, both positive and negative emotions are channeled productively.

Trauma impacts our self-awareness and self-control, which influences our decision-making as leaders and entrepreneurs.

Franklins always respected Aunty Louie’s council. She knows how to push him to make a decision when he tries to delay. And when faced with adversity, she shares a perspective rooted in reasoning.

When Franklin said, “We have to pick a side.”

Uncle Jerome reacted emotionally, “We can’t trust Skully with his crucifixion self!”

On the other hand, Aunt Louie did not. She said, “I get that Skully is crazy, but he always stays in his lane. Manboy is always trying to test us. Take a territory. Find a better deal. He’s smart and ambitious as anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Yet to deal with the trauma of being shot, Skully’s personality was a threat to Franklin’s mental stability. While Manboy was the bigger threat to their operation over the long run, Franklin’s desire for “peace of mind” led him to neglect the business’s best interest.

The irony is that Franklin stood up to his former supplier Avi just a season ago, and now he’s afraid of one of his distributors. As an entrepreneur, always remember that people’s lives hang in the balance of your decisions. In Franklin’s case, his loved ones’ well-being is at stake because of his poor decision-making. So healing is not optional. It’s a requirement.


Empathy requires the ability to understand how others perceive situations. This perception includes knowing how others feel about a particular set of events or circumstances.

“Trauma affects our social awareness. If I can’t feel what I am thinking and feeling, it is much harder for me to empathically feel what you are thinking and feeling. I am apt to misread or minimize your emotions or project my experience onto yours.” — Gretchen Schmelzer

Like a good coach, a good entrepreneur knows when to push harder and pull back. At every moment, you have to know your team’s pulse, take the time to check in with your people, and find out how they are doing. Have empathy.

Franklin has lost the pulse of his team, and thanks to trauma, he no longer cares to find it. His only concern is his own needs. The two examples of this are Uncle Jerome and his bodyguard Lurp.

Since Season 3, Uncle Jerome’s wanted to get out of the business and run his shop. In the past, Franklin found ways to keep him on board, but it’s unclear for how long because every episode he adds to his burden. This season, he’s had to kill someone and is now being ordered to Little Rock to set up shop.

Uncle Jerome’s clock is ticking, and guilt, shame, and money can’t slow it down. Only empathy can.


During challenging times, entrepreneurs must be proactive and show strength, or you risk employees quitting. If your team sees you panicking, they’ll panic, but if they see strength, they’ll feel confident in your ability to make the right decisions for both them and the company.

Lurp has no confidence in Franklin. Although he said his reason for leaving is the excessive bloodshed, it’s really the lack of trust. As a military vet, Lurp knows submitting to a leader means placing your life in their hands. And Franklin has been timid, anxious, and scatterbrained throughout the past four episodes. In other words, he’s not worth dying for.

And contrary to what many believe, an honorable man’s submission can’t be bought or begged for. It’s earned.

As we anticipate the coming events in Franklin’s journey, I look forward to seeing how he overcomes his trauma and how many of his family members, friends, and allies he’s alienated before he does.

Built In Africa | Boss Your Life Up Campaign | Capo Agency | Black Millennial sharing his journey.

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