A Kodak Moment

Eastman was the first to create a box camera that we all know as the Kodak. This company not only made photography accessible for the average person, they made their camera synonymous with all things sentimental: childhood memories, sweetheart communication, and youth ambition. One ad says, “Let the children Kodak.” Others use terms, such as “Kodak simplicity,” “Kodak letters,” and “Kodak stories.” People must have audibly sighed when they saw Eastman’s ads as their ads encouraged folks to “Kodak as you go,” and in one, a little boy even tugs on Santa’s coat imploing, “Give ‘em all Kodaks.” Eastman sold a life that was not only worth living, it was worth capturing on film and saving forever.

In the ads, life was a series of Kodak moments, and with a Kodak, preserving those moments was so easy: “You press the button—we do the rest.” Americans believed them when they said, “Kodak means photography with the bother left out.” Don’t we all want the bother left out?

Develop YOUR Image

In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill encourages the reader to “develop an image within yourself. We think in pictures.” Hill is imploring us to create a picture of ourselves and to refer to it often. As simple as it is to snap a Kodak, it’s just as simple to create a picture of yourself.

Award-winning actor, Will Smith, says that visualizing helps him achieve happiness. He reflected, “In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet,” What do you know about yourself that the world does not yet know?

Gold medalist ski racer Lindsey Vonn said, “I always visualize the run before I do it. By the time I get to the start gate, I’ve run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.” She not only replays the images in her mind, she also physically simulates the path by literally shifting her weight back and forth as if she were on skis and practices the specific breathing patterns she’ll use during the race. “Once I visualize a course, I never forget it. So I get on those lines and go through exactly the run that I want to have.” What will success feel like as you work your way up?

Oprah created vision boards to help her reach success, and she encourages us all to “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe. ” This woman who was fired six months after her first co-anchor job because she wasn’t made for television rose to become the queen of television. What diminishing words has someone said to you that you need to stop believing?

Jim Carrey suggests “You have to believe you already have it.” In fact, he wrote himself a 5 million dollar check and gave himself five years to earn that money. One month before the date on that check, he earned 10 million dollars for his part in the hit movie Dumb and Dumber. He believed that the money was just waiting on him, and it was. In fact, twice that amount was waiting on him. What’s waiting for you?

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Other people can seem so certain about who we can and cannot be, but we have to be so certain about who we are that other people’s versions of ourselves don’t cause our own image to fade. You’ll hear negative people ask questions, such as, “Just who do you think you are?” Prepare an answer before someone has the chance to ask this question. When I’ve been asked that, my mind flashes a visual answer. I see a picture of myself teaching. Sometimes I am in a group of two or four; other times, I’m in a classroom or on a stage. Words that I associate with this self-image are teacher, coach, guide, collaborator, difference-maker, inspirer, and leader. My image is stronger than anybody else’s.

When I think back to the first time I had the chance to live this image, I travel back to third grade at St. Mary Star of the Sea School, a Catholic school where my essay about why I love school was chosen as the first place winner by my school’s PTA. My prize was that I was invited to read the essay at the next PTA meeting. I don’t remember much about that meeting except that my whole family was there, and I’m one of five children. That means, including my mom and dad, I had six smiling faces looking back at me. Next to my family sat my beloved 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Bragg, who I remember as someone who waved away other kids’ sneezes from my face, saying, “Don’t sneeze on my Katy.” (I’m sure she said that to everyone, but I just recall her fondness for me.) St. Mary’s principal, Sister Camille, sat there too along with all the other nuns, sitting in the soft folds of their habits, cozy blankets that always made me feel safe. This was my first audience, and I was talking about why I loved what made their own hearts go pitter-pat—school.

Unless aliens landed or the building caught on fire, this presentation had zero chance of failure. The decks were stacked in my favor, and that’s what began my love affair with teaching and coaching. I believe that I produced so much endorphins during that PTA meeting that they still sustain me these forty years later. I go into every consulting meeting or presentation with the same attitude–that I have zero chance of failure.

Of course, I do fail. I don’t always get the contract, and I don’t always meet all of the needs that people have. However, because of that positive image in my mind set before each meeting, I win much more than I fail. How can you stack the deck in your favor and create an image of yourself that makes you feel invincible? Start somewhere safe. Churches, civic groups, and PTA’s are great places to start. You can try out whatever skill you need in these places and make it even stronger with low chances of criticism. With experience, your image of yourself will get clearer and clearer.

Flash Photography

What memories do you hold onto? When someone asks you, “Just who do you think you are?” what flashes into your head? Recognize this question for what it is–the speaker is seeking confirmation of the negative, not the positive. If you answer, “I’m Joanna, and I’m on the planet to keep our air clean,” your words are probably going to rub this person the wrong way. Just smile and move on. There is no good to come from that conversation.

Instead, focus on creating that Kodak moment, that flash photography that will serve you well. Create an image that will remind you and guide you as you work to develop yourself and accomplish your dreams. You know that image where you are your true self doing what you love, what you were put on the planet to pursue? Take a minute and clarify that image. Remove the should’s, the would’s, and the could’s. Make the image clear for yourself. What is putting the smile on your face. Not your mom’s or your dad’s face. Your face. What makes you smile?

With photo editing tools we have the ability to polish photos to perfection, but that’s not time well spent. Instead, take ten minutes and do some self-editing by answering these questions:

  • How do I describe my best self?
  • What is it that I am doing exactly?

Finally, ask yourself, What can I do right now to become that person? Where is a place that you can take your first step. For me, it was becoming a teacher where I had students to learn along with everyday; then my church gave me speaking opportunities. I was surrounded by people who loved me and supported me–even when I failed. Where is your safe spot? Is there a class or an organized civic group you can join? Do you have friends with common interests who would want to meet regularly, or do you need a coach to think this through?

Figure out what you need; then do it. Leaders Building Leaders is here to help. Let us be your coach, accountability partner, or co-strategist. We live to serve.  

This blog was written by Katy Ridnouer, Leadership Coach, Speaker and Trainer with Leaders Building Leaders, and she is the author of two education books, Managing Your Classroom with Heart and Everyday Engagement. If you found this content valuable, please share it.

If you need help becoming that image you see, then reach out to her at Katy@Leaders-Building-Leaders.com for a complimentary discovery session. You create the agenda; you bring the challenges. Allow her to be your thought partner.

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