A Conversation with Dmitriy Kozlov, Serial Entrepreneur, Artist, and Poet
This is their conversation…
Dusty: Thank you so much for talking with me today Dmitriy. Could you tell our readers a bit about you, your work, and service in the world?
Dmitriy: I am a serial entrepreneurial-artist. Creating new companies and doing it as an artist in both what and how I do it. What I actually do at the moment is a creative design business that generates the back end for many growing companies. We also build personal brand sites to drive an entrepreneur’s business while also expressing who they are in the world.
In addition to this I cofounded a group called Maverick X. It is an organization helping those who have accomplished something already, created a business, to step up to a higher level of contribution in the world. Finally, but not last, I am a poet creating most of it on FB or on my personal website.
Dusty: What is your relationship with Courage and why does it matter in your life and work?
Dmitriy: Your book, The 7 Acts of Courage really inspired me when I was 20. In fact, as we are talking I am looking at a beautiful piece of art in front of me. It appears to be a dragon at first glance, but as you look closer you see that the dragon is all made out of Monarch butterflies.
This is a powerful image and insight. All of my biggest, darkest fears are made out of butterflies, like those in my stomach when I am facing my fear. Seeing the fear not as a dragon but a collection of butterflies helps me to step into greater grace and power in life.
In my life and work I like to explore the greatest depths of what is needed in order to be in alignment with my Purpose in living.
That means having the Courage to Learn and Grow, of being willing to step into the unknown. I believe it takes courage for any of us to really claim, discover and share our gifts with the world. The fuel to take those steps is courage.
Whether in relationships to tell the uncomfortable but authentic truth or in business to take a strategic risk, courage becomes the fuel, the key to all gifts that lay on the other side of that apparent dragon blocking the path.
Dusty: Where have you most needed to develop Courage in your life and in your work?
Dmitriy: There is a distinction between the two, and yet as my life is integrated, one flows into the other in many ways. I mostly needed to develop courage in using my voice–speaking my truth when it doesn’t feel comfortable or I know it is the right thing to do even when it does not match the pulse of the environment.
It goes into my business: challenging the status quo, the business frame, stepping up and out. Another major area where I have most needed to develop courage has been in the journey of decision-making. Many times choices have been made from my head (logical process short term, weighing pros and cons).
Those do not require courage as it is just the game of the mind making choices. When it comes to stepping into what my heart wants me to do, then it doesn’t always match what my head has come up with. Making those choices has required the most courage in my life and my work.
An example of this: This past year I went to Burning Man for the first time. This was right after launching a new major product and service. I was also moving from one place to another. My mind was saying, “You need to stay home and handle everything.”
Normally I would do that, be grounded and responsible. But this time my heart was very clear that I needed to go–to step away from my habitual way of responding. I walked away from the most logical, responsible thing to do. In the process my head learned to serve my heart.
“OK, even if I don’t know why, I need to go to Burning Man.”
My head then went to work to make it happen. I think this is the right way forward, the mind being in service to our deeper heart. That takes courage.
It turns out it was an incredibly rich experience: I met the love of my life, opened my way of being to a greater sense of joy, it inspired me artistically and has, paradoxically, fed my business with some new key contacts. These are things I could not have predicted before going. This has led to some significant transformation in my life. My heart was so completely on track and wise that it has amazed me and shown a different pathway forward.
Dusty: Where do you feel that Courage is most needed in this world: for your clients, for society, for millennials?
Dmitriy: For millennials I think accessing the courage to follow your heart is a big thing. You know when you are doing it, following your heart, and you know when you are not. That is where it takes courage to notice you are out of alignment and then to take action to get into alignment with your heart. This requires courage.
Life has no guarantees. Yet our society has sold a certain story line that says there are guarantees. This is false and can lead to great pain and serious mistakes. You need to trust a life-unfolding process versus a formula handed out as social blueprint.
Courage is needed more and more in order to not buy into that story and to go after the life you truly wish to live. Young people need courage even more now since the pathway that society has lain out is a broken one. Following your heart may not lead to the success you want, yet whatever it leads to you can know you did your best and were true to your heart, to yourself.
The other path can lead you to a sense of being empty, unengaged. It takes courage to break the pattern, to let go of the familiar and to step into the unfamiliar. This is essential, otherwise it is too easy to go into numbing behaviors and medications such as drugs, alcohol, sugar, workaholic patterns, excessive eating and so forth in attempts to deal with the disappointment and pain.
For my clients, dealing with successful entrepreneurs, success can become like golden handcuffs that limit and trap the soul. I encourage these “successful” people to step beyond that into true significance in order to be true to themselves, to stay authentic and experience a greater sense of aliveness and fulfillment.
Dusty: From your millennial perspective, what do you see as the key things organizations need to be aware of if they are to get the best from the younger work force?
Dmitriy: Do something that matters! That is what matters the most to young people versus just the day- to-day work. The primary thing in our generation is feeling that we are working for something – towards something that matters.
The more organizations can tap into that and express it, then you will get far more engagement from the millennial generation. The things that are most relevant are a sense of purpose and a way to connect that purpose to what team members do – also a sense of identifying unique talent so there is a fair exchange of energy, of which part is only financial, the rest is an exchange of life-force.
The thing to be aware of there is bringing out the unique abilities and gifts of the individuals around you that are in alignment with the needs and interests of the organization. This will produce high-level engagement and also amplify the value being created. More engagement and more longevity means you create higher value where you can get more done with less people while you build capacity and strengths that help you run your business more effectively.
This is a long term ROI! It means really listening to the team members around you, continuously coaching and helping others learn. This way is going to pay handsomely for an enterprise.
Dusty: Where do you feel older executives and leaders need to develop Courage (which Acts specifically) and why?
Dmitriy: I believe it is three primary Acts of Courage. The first is the Courage to Let Go of a particular identity that is tied to past and/or current success or of anything that prevents you from stepping into the new. After all, if you are not in alignment with the world’s momentum you will die–either your career or physical health.
You cannot just hold on to what is as there is no standstill in business or life.
The Courage to be Confronted is also a critical Act of Courage for older generations in order to learn how to listen and realize you can learn from everyone. The biggest limitation for an executive, for anyone, is what you are not willing or unable to see in yourself. Confrontation will challenge thinking, ways of perceiving and old patterns so you can discover more of who you are becoming or need to become.
I would also add that you need the Courage to be Vulnerable. This Act of Courage is much deeper, requiring you to go into a more open way of being in the world and thus to learn at a deeper level and to really connect, to admit you don’t know it all. Real strength is found in the Courage to be Vulnerable–not being open is a sign of weakness.
Dusty: What is the best advice you would give to fellow millennials and to any older senior executives?
Dmitriy: Best advice to millennials is to continue to be in relationship with your highest desires and what you feel you are meant to do in the world. This can open the portals to purpose and power in the world. It takes courage to stay open, to keep learning and to stay in relationship to your inner life and highest desires. Cultivate your life in a deep conversation with that part of yourself.
For Senior Executives, the words that come up are to “pursue healing.” The path to get where you are has probably led to some damage to some significant relationships or key parts of your being. Being willing to heal any damage to self and to others is key. This will lead to a greater authenticity, grace, power and even a sense of ease in life.
Dusty: What is the most important insight or guidance you could share to help people to play at their best in all aspects of their lives?
Dmitriy: The most powerful one is to stay in relationship and awareness of death. You are going to die at some point. You don’t know when, but you will end in this current expression of life.
Keeping that in mind really helps then to choose how you show up. Letting that guide all your decisions, actions and the contributions you make to the world in the world helps keep your focus on what really matters. After all, the most brilliant mind is a maze of contradictions and twists of logic and it needs the heart, the spirit, to guide it through that maze. Your heart is the most powerful way to create and to understand your “why” in living.
For more information about Dmitriy and his work, please visit DmitriyKozlov.com.