How to Make a Mark (and Make It Matter)

Make a Mark

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” —Maya Angelou

September 15th is International Dot Day! I had NO IDEA this day existed until a few weeks ago when my co-worker told me all about it (S/O to Lynsey). I WAS IMMEDIATELY OBSESSED. According to the website,

International Dot Day is named for the classic Peter H. Reynolds storybook The Dot. Available in English and many other languages, the book shares the story of a girl who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to “make her mark.”

First of all, I LOVE CHILDREN’S BOOKS. I love the simplicity and power held within their pages. They literally change your life. Don’t believe me? Go read:

  • Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
  • The Tale of Three Trees 
  • You’re Here for a Reason 
  • The Oak Inside the Acorn

I can vividly remember EXACTLY WHERE I WAS when I read each of these books for the first time. That’s how much they impacted me! I’m pretty sure I’ve learned more from a single children’s book than I have from a handful of grownup books combined. There’s just something about taking a concept and breaking it down into childlike terms that can turn a person’s world and perception of it inside out and upside down.

In The Dot, Vashti is discouraged because she can’t draw. Instead of making an attempt, she leaves her paper blank.

Vashti’s teacher leaned over the blank paper.


“Ahhh, a polar bear in a snowstorm!” she said.


“Very funny” said Vashti, “I just can’t draw!”


Her teacher smiled.


“Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”


Vashti grabbed a marker and gave the paper a good, strong jab.




Her teacher picked up the paper and studied it carefully.




She pushed the paper towards Vashti and quietly said, “Now sign it.”

When Vashti came to class the next week, she saw her picture of the little dot had been framed and was now hanging on the wall above her teacher’s desk.

Vashti thinks to herself, “I can make a better dot than that!” and begins painting all sorts of dots…big dots, small dots, yellow dots, blue dots, green dots, etc.

At the school art show a few weeks later, Vashti’s many dots made quite a splash.


Vashti noticed a little boy gazing up at her.


“You’re a really great artist! I wish I could draw.”


“I bet you can” said Vashti.


“Me? No. Not me! I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.”


Vashti smiled. She handed the boy a blank sheet of paper.


“Show me.”


The boy’s pencil shook as he drew his line. Vashti stared at the boy’s squiggle and then she said…


“Please…sign it!”


Make a mark

Here are the two main takeaways I acquired reading The Dot and why I’m now fired up about International Dot Day. It’s definitely worth celebrating!

1. Start small.

The largeness and grandness of what’s to come begins with the smallest, tiniest, most insignificant-seeming moments.

Give yourself a chance. Don’t count yourself out before you even get in the game. Find ways to express yourself. It may be uncomfortable at first. You may feel like your work isn’t worthy of anyone’s attention.

And, at first, it may not be.

However, if you continue exploring different paths and get creative with your efforts, you’re sure to come up with something more fitting to you. 

We’re not going to be the world’s best at anything when we first begin. It’s very likely we’ll have no earthly idea what we’re doing which is why the journey is so important…we learn along the way.

We don’t have to have it all figured out and planned out.

We just have to start small and start somewhere and then see where it takes us.

We’ll go from sarcastically jabbing something on paper to seeing it framed and thinking, “I can do better than that.”

Then, one thing will lead to another and, before we know it, that small mark will have snowballed into something we never would have thought possible.

There is something notable about having tried and exerted effort.

Don’t overthink it.

Don’t overanalyze it.

Just get out there, “make a mark and see where it takes you.”

Starting small is more important than we realize, as there can be no finish line without there having first been a starting line. Embrace small beginnings and watch them tumble and roll into your own beautiful, creative masterpiece. 

2. Look for the potential in others.

I love how it’s a teacher who inspires Vashti and challenges her to make an attempt. Teachers are wonderful influencers and the reason why so many children become anything at all.

A lot of times, it takes another person pointing out the potential we can’t see in ourselves and vice versa.

Do you ever wonder who needs to hear us say, “Please…sign it!”

Those three simple words changed Vashti’s entire perspective. She felt special and as if she really did have something to offer.

One of the things I love most about life is the ability we have to encourage one another and cheer each other on. There are people around us struggling to see what they bring to the table. They don’t think they’re good at much and feel incapable of achieving anything.

But we can change that, you and me.

We can look deeper than what’s on the surface and see what others overlook. We can call out their potential all the while challenging them and rooting for them.

International Dot Day encourages people all across the world to “make a mark [and] make it matter.” We can (and should!) do the same!

If you make a mark over there and I make mine over here, together, we can change the world. 

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