Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

What Is Values Storying?

Values StoryingWhat 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 (coming August 1) podcasting. Some of you may be here for the first time. Let me be the first to welcome you!

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. (I’ll be adding it to my About page soon so that it will always be available to folks just dropping by to check out the site.)

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 consulted this past year.)
    • 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 live 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 and speak.

    • Values StoryingMy 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. Three more books on the schedule for this year will be a youth sports manifesto told as a narrative, a “gospel tract in book form,” and a family Advent guide. All three will connect to the values storying theme.
    • 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 have value. Value that 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.

    • Since my desire is encourage, inspire, and challenge you to engage in values storying, I will be regularly seeking your input for future projects. Next month, I am rolling out a process by which even busy people can write a book to tell their stories. This is a process I’ve developed to confront the top two reasons people have told me they haven’t written the book that they’ve always wanted to write: (1) they don’t know where to start, and (2) they just don’t have the time. Is that you or someone you know? Stay tuned.
    • Currently, the values storying community is weighing in on some logo designs that best speak to values storying. For a few more days, you can add your two cents in the survey at the end of this post. You’ll get something free in exchange for your honest opinion!)

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.


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

What do you think?