Storytelling – Why Do It?

Have you ever heard "I never knew that" when you've shared a story?

By Kurt Rump

As the co-founder of a company that deeply appreciates the basic idea of connecting families through their stories, I tend to notice what others have to say about the value of sharing stories. And while their motivation for storytelling is drawn from differing objectives, they universally endorse the idea.

What is it that makes those stories so important? I’m going to share a little bit of what others have to say. Maybe you can relate.

Perhaps you are familiar with StoryCorps. Collecting stories since 2003, their mission is bold and sweeping: “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world” (taken directly from their website).

That’s a big goal.

According to their website, more than half a million people have recorded their stories. Those conversations reside in the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress, available for countless millions of people to listen to and learn from.

But why?

As it turns out, when you read about StoryCorps and listen to their founder, their motivation to capture and preserve stories of national, cultural, and societal interest closely parallel the reason we’ve created a way to do it within families:

  • To pass wisdom from one generation to the next.
  • To help people feel more connected and less alone.
  • To whisper truths in people’s ears about who we are and what’s important.

As I was exploring content about StoryCorps, there was a particular phrase that caught my attention. It was their commitment to “continue to sew stitch after stitch in the national tapestry of hope until we are whole…”

Interesting metaphor.

Have you ever wondered why we chose to name our business “TightKnit”? Do you think that maybe, as we outlined our vision for the company, we could see the possibilities for families to weave tapestries of their own?


I look at StoryCorps and what they are doing for the nation… capturing societal and cultural shifts that are sometimes slow and subtle, and other times fast and furious… and I wonder about the families that are recording those stories. As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, there is more to those stories than what was captured for the national archive.

What about the stories behind the stories? Wouldn’t it be beneficial for a family to have a place where they could take a deeper dive? Plunge further into the people, places, and events that shaped their past to see what more they can learn by simply having ongoing conversations with each other? Does the family have a personal archive for those?

We think they should. That’s why we do what we do.

Let’s look at another group that values shared stories: Legacy Coalition. Their motivation is faith-based. Recognizing that grandparents have an important spiritual role to play, Legacy Coalition is helping thousands of grandparents find purpose and have a greater spiritual impact on their grandchildren’s lives.

Though they offer a variety of resources to assist grandparents in this role, it should come as no surprise that I was drawn to a blog post titled, “Family Stories: A Priceless Heirloom.”

I couldn’t agree more. And heirlooms are worth holding on to.

The author, Deborah Haddix, reflects on the stories her dad told and how important they were to her. Stories about relatives who have long since passed. Stories of life back in the day. Stories that chronicle points of interest along the path that brought him to where he was.

But why are those stories important?

The author devotes much of the post to the value of family stories. It’s beautifully written. She outlines what grandchildren need to know, and how they benefit by knowing it. I found myself wanting to copy multiple paragraphs into this post (but that would be plagiarism, so best to resist that urge).

It’s the kind of stuff that we talk about at TightKnit all the time. That’s why we do what we do.

The post also included the following call-to-action, and I quote: The fact that your family history doesn’t include any famous names or significant historical events may have you feeling that your story is a bit lackluster and not worth telling. May I say right here, “Tell it anyway!”

And may I add, “Yea verily!” Tell it anyway!

So, regardless of the motivation, your stories have value.

If you want your story to be part of the national narrative so that others may learn from your experiences, there’s a place for that.

If your stories will contribute to the spiritual health and wellbeing of your grandchildren, there are resources to help with that.

Sometimes, however, the problem isn’t recognizing that your stories have value. The problem is to find a sustainable solution for capturing, preserving, and sharing those stories.

We’d love to help you with that.

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