Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next


DSC_0654-2_ppWhat Is Values Storying?

I use the term values storying quite often here on this blog. Once in a while, I like to go back and capture what values storying is and what I am trying to accomplish through my writing, speaking, and consulting. Some of you may be here for the first time. I’m Al Ainsworth, your host. Welcome to the Values Storying blog!

I could write what I feel is the most instructive, entertaining, and challenging post on the topic of values storying–only to leave many of you at the starting gate asking, “Uh, what is values storying?” That’s the point of this post, to be a foundational post on the topic.

Values Storying with Al Ainsworth from Al Ainsworth on Vimeo.


3 Important Elements of  Values Storying

  1. Values storying, by my own definition, is “the passing of values from one generation to the next through the stories we tell and re-tell.”

    • By one generation to the next, I mean the passing down of values in a family, community, school, sports team or organization, business, civic group, or any other type of organization in which values are important. (Here’s an example of values storying about a local business with which I have consulted.)
    • Especially significant in the definition are the words and re-tell. Stories that are told so often that anybody in our structure could tell them become part of our DNA. I recently met a man who teaches a high school television production class. One of his extremely hardworking, overachieving students died in a car wreck a few years ago. His spirit of determination lives on, however, as this man regularly and intentionally shares his student’s story. (This young man was also an organ donor. His spirit lives on through the production students, and his body lives on in 17 different people who received his organs!)
  2. Values storying is the platform from which I write, speak, and consult with many different types of individuals and organizations who want the world to know their stories.

    • My first book, Lines in the Gravel, is a look back at the stories that shaped me in the family of six in which I grew up. These are stories I want my kids (and one day, their kids) to know in order to perpetuate the positive values that have been shaped over the course of many generation, in some cases. I followed up with Stories from the Roller Coaster that records many of the life events that have challenged and strengthened my family’s faith. Coach Dave: Season One is a fictitious account of a youth baseball coach who creates quite a tension between the way baseball has always been played in Southburg and the way he coaches many life lessons through the game.
    • I teach and train according to how my audiences might best take advantage of values storying. The core message is always that our experiences and the stories that emanate from them contain our values, the best of which could, and should, be invested in the next generation.
  3. Values storying is the foundation for future projects that aim to encourage, inspire, and challenge you to pass along your values through the vehicle of your stories.


Values Storying: A Summary

Values storying is passing values from one generation to the next through the stories we tell…and re-tell. It is a message I am compelled to share with the world.

Values storying, a message I am compelled to share with the world.

Please let me know if I can help you tell your story. And won’t you join the conversation whenever you have something to add? The values storying community will be richer for the addition of your voice to the conversation.

Al Ainsworth

P.S.: Why the term values storying? I admit that it was a risk to “create” a new term. I did not discover narrative, and I certainly haven’t cornered the market on telling stories. It’s simple, really, why I chose to go the route of a new term.

When I was a kid growing up in rural Mississippi, I was taught to be a young man of integrity. Essential to that code of ethics was to always be truthful. It was a big deal to be called a liar or to call someone else a liar. So…when my sisters and brothers would disagree with one another’s versions of conflict, we wouldn’t outright call each other a liar. But we might tread awfully close by calling one of our siblings a storyteller.

So, you see, having grown up with that background, to call myself a values storyteller would have been to label myself an oxymoron. Now you know the rest of the story.