Making a Mark – Rediscovery Of Power Using Visual Thinking

Change how you take notes in meetings and get organized with your own alphabet using visual thinking.
(with Sunni’s permission you can download her visual alphabet here).


Can you remember the first time you made a mark? I’m literally talking about your first memory of drawing in the dirt with a stick or using chalk on the pavement, a marker on paper or coloring with a crayon.

Even if you don’t remember, can you imagine how you might have felt when you realized you had the power to leave your mark on something?

Of course, as an adult you still have that power. However, by now it may not feel as exhilarating. You may even undervalue your mark-making prowess, and who wouldn’t with all the signatures, initials, math equations and words you’ve formed since then.

So let me reintroduce you to this magnificently human mark-making talent by discussing visual thinking.

Wikipedia defines visual thinking or visual literacy as “the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, extending the meaning of literacy, which commonly signifies interpretation of a written or printed text.

I care to share this information with you because I recently learned I am visually literate. You might be using visual thinking too if you doodle, think in pictures and images, if you problem solve with diagrams and drawings, or use “chicken scratch” to increase your retention of information.

So why is this important?

First, let me speak from experience. My native language is visual language. I am a better thinker, speaker, relator, coach, mentor, parent, explainer of concepts when I use my native tongue. I can connect with an audience and make what I see in my mind and heart understood when I use visual language. Visual language and visual thinking helps me legitimize my thoughts into words. That is to say, I’m more satisfied, successful, and strong when I stay true to myself and speak my native tongue.

I’m not the only one who feels this way, take it from Sunni Brown, the wonder kid who teaches visual literacy. In her book, The Doodle Revolution (find on amazon here), Sunni outlines why mark making is important with visual thinking.

She feels visual thinking is an asset in our economy—you know the Knowledge and Experience Economy that emerged as we left the Industrial Economy. She goes on to explain that it increases our problem-solving capacity and can increase efficiencies in such endeavors. It can support us to move from misaligned communication to aligned and attuned communication. It increases our retention of relevant information. It can increase our capacity to access insight, inspiration and innovation. It expands and honors far more types of intelligence than just using words can.

visual thinkingSo now what?

You decide what happens next. However, I’d suggest if anything you’ve just read helped you think differently or sparked a need to learn more, try one or more of the following activities:

Purchase the book The Doodle Revolution (from amazon here), and use it as a primer to teach the basics of visual language and visual thinking.

Consider taking Sunni’s online course on visual thinking, Visual Note-taking 101.

Pull out the markers or crayons and revisit your power to make marks.

Change how you take notes in meetings and get organized with your own alphabet (with Sunni’s permission you can download her visual alphabet PDF here).

I promise you . . .

If you take your mark making seriously, you will unlock your power to think differently! That is no small lock to open. You’ve heard, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But did you know, “A doodle can be worth more than a billion bucks!”

Think about it:

How big is the industry inspired by Da Vinci’s sketches?

How much market value is there in Nike’s logo? Such a simple yet powerful image, representing an arc of movement, a swoosh, a sound, an association with the goddess of victory and speed.

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