Speechless – Tell Stories that Change the World

Chapter 04: Maryam's creeping realisation

June 19, 2023 Maryam Pasha & Simon Bucknall Season 1 Episode 7
Chapter 04: Maryam's creeping realisation
Speechless – Tell Stories that Change the World
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Speechless – Tell Stories that Change the World
Chapter 04: Maryam's creeping realisation
Jun 19, 2023 Season 1 Episode 7
Maryam Pasha & Simon Bucknall

Sometimes the story you set out to tell isn’t the one you end up telling... that's certainly what happened when Maryam chose to take a step back from her so called, "Imposter Syndrome".  Tune into this episode of Speechless to go on Maryam Pasha’s a-ha moment through the medium of storytelling, with a little help from co-host, Simon Bucknall. You’ll learn why storytelling can help you reclaim your truth, how to convey a long-tail narrative arc concisely, and how turning points can help you overcome chronological order fatigue.

Show Notes Transcript

Sometimes the story you set out to tell isn’t the one you end up telling... that's certainly what happened when Maryam chose to take a step back from her so called, "Imposter Syndrome".  Tune into this episode of Speechless to go on Maryam Pasha’s a-ha moment through the medium of storytelling, with a little help from co-host, Simon Bucknall. You’ll learn why storytelling can help you reclaim your truth, how to convey a long-tail narrative arc concisely, and how turning points can help you overcome chronological order fatigue.

[00:00:00] Maryam Pasha: You are listening to Speechless, the new podcast from storytelling experts, Maryam Pasha and Simon Bucknall. Hit follow now to learn how to tell stories that change the world.

[00:00:18] Maryam Pasha: If you'd asked me 10 years ago to tell you about my career, my education, kind of what I'd done in my life up until that point, you would've heard a story that focused very much on other people [00:00:30] that I. Had been in the right place at the right time, that other people had taken a chance on me. Maybe I had been lucky that you would've heard a story that was very much known about me and more about the people, institutions, or companies where I'd somehow conned my way in to being there.

[00:00:51] Maryam Pasha: From getting into a top university in Canada and feeling like I better quickly say yes in case they realize they've made the mistake of letting me in [00:01:00] to genuinely feeling like my first job after university was because they just wanted someone less talented than the other people on the team. For this one time, right?

[00:01:10] Maryam Pasha: It didn't even occur to me how ridiculous that sounds as it does to me right now, but I really felt that way. It's why coming across the idea of imposter syndrome felt like a light bulb moment. All of a sudden. All of these things that I had never really seen, but there were absolutely there, tripping me up, were [00:01:30] illuminated by the idea of imposter syndrome.

[00:01:32] Maryam Pasha: Now, if you don't know what imposter syndrome is, it's a feeling that somehow you have fooled everyone into it. Around you into thinking that you know, stuff that you have some kind of expertise, but actually you're a fraud. Now there's loads of research done on imposter syndrome and I started to read more and more about it, and I started to realize that this might be the answer.

[00:01:53] Maryam Pasha: Imposter syndrome might be the thing that was holding me back, making me feel like my accomplishes accomplishments were on my own [00:02:00] like that I was gonna be found out at any moment. Imposter syndrome felt so much like the answer that about 10 years ago when I was asked to give a 10 x talk, I wanted to give a talk on imposter syndrome.

[00:02:12] Maryam Pasha: And I did, and it was a great talk. And at the end of that talk I boldly declared, I'm gonna write a book on this. Tell me your stories. And so for the next few years, that's what I did. I gathered stories, I talked to people I knew and that I didn't, [00:02:30] people sent me their stories online. I talked to friends and patterns started to emerge.

[00:02:36] Maryam Pasha: I try desperately to try and fit these patterns and these ideas into different structures. Try to understand why some people feel this way or some people don't. Why Some people act on it and some people don't. I read as much as I could. There was out there, and I also spoke about imposter syndrome a lot, and people would come up to me all the time saying, I feel just like this.

[00:02:59] Maryam Pasha: So I [00:03:00] really felt like I'd hit on something until it started to dawn on me. And I don't know quite when this happened. You know, sometimes you, something sneaks up on you, like a realization and it feels like it's overnight, but actually it's probably been brewing for quite a long time. But one day I sat down to think, all right, I'm writing this book now.

[00:03:20] Maryam Pasha: And I realized I had nothing to say about imposter syndrome because I realized that it wasn't real. Now, how could that be? Because if all of these people had told [00:03:30] me that it felt like it spoke to them and I had felt so much like it gave me answers and all of these academic research had been done on it, how could I have come to the conclusion that imposter syndrome wasn't real?

[00:03:41] Maryam Pasha: What I figured out was that when people were telling me that they were stepping into boardrooms and feeling like they didn't belong when they were in the workplace and they were feeling like people thought they were maybe a fraud or they were gonna get found out, um, all of those emotions that people were [00:04:00] feeling on the inside that they had been made to think because of things like imposter syndrome, were all in their head were actually completely true.

[00:04:09] Maryam Pasha: Now, I'm not saying that people were not good at their jobs or that they were frauds or they weren't actually talented. What I'm saying is that if you are a woman of color walking in to an all male, all white boardroom, yeah. Some of those people are gonna be thinking. This person doesn't belong here. [00:04:30] If you exist in the world in some kind of marginalized way, whether that's because of how much education you've had, how much money you've made, uh, your, whether you have a disability, your sexuality, your gender, your race, the fact that you're a refugee, you have an accent, whatever it might be, that takes you to feel other when you walk into various spaces.

[00:04:51] Maryam Pasha: Whether we wanna admit it or not, society is telling us that we shouldn't be there. And so to make people feel like this is something that's [00:05:00] going on in their head is so insidious to make people feel that this is something that they need to fix internally, doesn't. So all of a sudden didn't make sense to me anymore.

[00:05:13] Maryam Pasha: Cuz the truth is, is that. If you walk into a room and think everyone here might think I'm an imposter, they probably do. The answer though, isn't to fix something in your head or to see the room differently. The answer is to ask yourself, [00:05:30] is that gonna stop me from doing what I wanna do? Because the only thing in your control is what you do with that information.

[00:05:38] Maryam Pasha: So whether you feel like an imposter or not, whether people are really thinking that or not, whatever the feelings you have, they're only feelings. What you do with them and how you let it influence your behavior, that's the really important thing. So now when you ask me about my career, you'll hear a lot more about me.[00:06:00] 

[00:06:00] Maryam Pasha: And when you hear about other people, it won't be because I feel like they took a chance on someone without skill. You'll hear me talking about people who held me up even when I didn't always feel like I could do it.

[00:06:17] Simon Bucknall: Wow. Wow, wow. So that's, there's a lot to take in there. So immediately what strikes me about this is of course, that this is not a singular anecdote. This is a more [00:06:30] overarching narrative, which of course is, is a different form of story. People sometimes think, oh, the only way to tell a story is it has to be a literal anecdote.

[00:06:37] Simon Bucknall: And of course there's important moments there in the story that you've told, but it's, it spans a, a number of years. It's, it spans a whole segment of your life. Yeah. And. That's, uh, yeah, and therefore it's on a, it's on a grand scale in a way, as a, as a listener, and, and I'm, I'm struck also. The second thing that really strikes me about that is that there are real twists and turns.[00:07:00] 

[00:07:00] Simon Bucknall: In the journey that you go through, which of course is also is always engaging to a, to a listener. Of course there needs to be some kind of curiosity, some kind of, ah, some moments of, well, I say crisis, not as in problem, but crisis as in a point at which things change. There's a moment of realization, there's a shift in understanding or perception.

[00:07:17] Simon Bucknall: W So here's my first question, which is, What would you say is one of the most important turning points, if that's the right phrase, uh, in, in that [00:07:30] narrative? 

[00:07:30] Maryam Pasha: Yes. I think this is very true and you know, it's interesting you highlight that because it felt like that experiencing it, it felt like being pushed in it.

[00:07:39] Maryam Pasha: Like in, when I think back on how I felt in those moments, I felt like I was being turned around a corner like, like I felt like I was going in one direction, then all of a sudden, Life pulled me in another direction. So I really wanted to recreate that feeling. Mm. There's really two and they're very different.

[00:07:54] Maryam Pasha: Mm-hmm. One is like this real light bulb, this instant moment of un like hearing about [00:08:00] imposter syndrome and everything, all of a sudden feeling like it made sense. Yes. And the second feeling is more of like this creeping feeling. The second turning point is this more creeping, developing feeling where I'm like, everyone is saying yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

[00:08:14] Maryam Pasha: But something isn't adding up here. Something isn't making sense. Um, maybe I've got it wrong all this whole time. 

[00:08:22] Simon Bucknall: And if I understood it right, the, the realization that the something that's not adding up is n is about more than just [00:08:30] your own sense of self-esteem. Self-worth, yes, exactly. I think. We have this, we do this.

[00:08:37] Simon Bucknall: I mean, with imposter syndrome, the thing I realized is we, um, always think every, all the answers are located inside us. Mm-hmm. And all the fault is located inside us. Yes. When actually, sometimes what you're doing is picking up on signals from the wide society that are completely there. And yet we make people feel like, oh, it's just all in your head.

[00:08:57] Simon Bucknall: Maybe it's not all in their head. And that is a thing that [00:09:00] I realized and that's why it felt so all like, like although it was creeping all of a sudden felt so problematic because I felt like what I was doing was reinforcing the same kind of really problematic. I. Way that the world makes us think about ourselves, which is that, oh, you feel like you don't belong.

[00:09:17] Simon Bucknall: You need to feel better about yourself. You more confident, or maybe you don't feel like 

[00:09:20] Simon Bucknall: sought yourself esteem out love, eh. 

[00:09:22] Maryam Pasha: Right. And, and like, what are all the things I can do? Well, maybe you are swimming. What is that? It's a great analogy about it. Like a fish is in water. [00:09:30] Like you can't be like, oh, if you're wet, what have you done to be wet? It's like it's in water. 

[00:09:34] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. You, yeah. Yeah. 

[00:09:35] Simon Bucknall: You can't pull a towel out. Dry yourself off. Whilst you're in the water. Exactly. At least, at least I, I've tried that. It's very difficult. It's very bad. Yeah, it's very difficult. 

[00:09:42] Maryam Pasha: Um, so I think that was it. And so for me, I wanted to capture those two turning points, um, that were really important to me, that felt as significant in my own journey of it.

[00:09:53] Simon Bucknall: Yeah, so, so the risk of getting all Stephen Covey, o o on on you, right. I who, right now with the, but it says, yeah, seven habits of Highly Effective People. Yeah. [00:10:00] So he, he, he speaks about the idea of the circle of control and the circle of influence, and needing to be clear on what, what's in each of those two domains.

[00:10:07] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. And, and this is, this is this course. What happens with storytelling when you're engaged in a story, or in this case, a, a narrative is that we. As a listener, we, we can't help but relate to that in our own way. Yeah, of course. Whether we are actually in the moment, in the situation with this, with the speaker, the storyteller, and or observing it, nevertheless, we, we process it, of course, through our own lens.

[00:10:28] Simon Bucknall: And so something that [00:10:30] I, that came into my mind as you were talking it through and actually telling it, relating the story earlier and, and again, it's in my mind now is there's something here interesting about the, the distinction that if I've understood it right, that. Your early stages of understanding were everything here that's relevant is in my circle of.

[00:10:46] Simon Bucknall: Is and should be in my circle of control, which is all wrapped up with my self-esteem. Yeah. And, and actually that there is, there's way more that is actually outside of your circle of control. Yeah. Which is other people's perception of you mentioning woman of color in certain situations. Yeah. [00:11:00] And whether you like it or not, there's gonna be certain views which you subconsciously or maybe sometimes.

[00:11:05] Simon Bucknall: Consciously pick up on Yeah. But which influence then of course how you might feel? 

[00:11:08] Maryam Pasha: Oh yeah, absolutely. That's exactly it. I mean, in psychology it's called like locus of control, internal, external. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. You know, if you have too much of an internal focus, you feel like everything's your fault. If you have too much of an external, you take no responsibility for anything.

[00:11:21] Maryam Pasha: And the idea is you have to have balance. Yeah. And I think it's important to identify that. And I think, you know, just to give you an example, right, of what I. Mean here, and this is [00:11:30] sometimes if I speak, if I tell the, if I tell the story longer, I'm, I will sometimes bring in some details of like this. In one of my first jobs, I went to my boss and said, I feel like I'm experiencing racism from these senior members of staff.

[00:11:46] Maryam Pasha: And that person turned around to me and said, oh, Maryam, you are always, you are always looking for it. You've just been taught to look for racism, and you just see it everywhere, even when it doesn't exist. Now, nowadays you think, like, I'm sure people are, think what, but like, you know, 15 years [00:12:00] ago in this job, that was like a very fine thing for someone to say to me.

[00:12:03] Maryam Pasha: Mm-hmm. And if you think about experiences like that, that are, it is not unusual for lots of people listening, you know? Mm-hmm. Of course you feel like an imposter. Like of course you're gonna feel like a fraud in circumstances where that's the soup that you're swimming in. You know, I, I think sometimes about the students that I'm teaching in Oxford, they will tell me about some of the stuff they hear at the university.

[00:12:26] Maryam Pasha: They'll hear things from classmates around how colonialism was a good idea [00:12:30] or how slavery wasn't that bad. And you know, these are Skoll scholars coming over from India, from Africa, from all around the world. That is not in their head, that they feel like, oh, maybe I don't belong in this kind of institution.

[00:12:41] Maryam Pasha: It's that the history of it, the conversations they're having with classmates, you know, it's coming to the surface. Of course, not everyone, but enough that it influences their opinion, their their experience. Mm-hmm. The question then is, What do you do about it? Do you agree? Do you say, yeah, you're right.

[00:12:56] Maryam Pasha: Actually, I am an imposter. I am a fraud. I don't shouldn't be here. [00:13:00] It's my fault. I couldn't just get it together. I better leave. And some people listen to that voice and they just diminish themselves and diminish themselves. 

[00:13:07] Simon Bucknall: So that's is one choice that people make, right? Yeah. 

[00:13:10] Simon Bucknall: And 

[00:13:10] Maryam Pasha: I think that the more you make it feel like it's inside the person, the more likely they are to feel like they have to battle themselves.

[00:13:17] Simon Bucknall: Yes. 

[00:13:18] Maryam Pasha: When actually this is all of our problem to fix. Not that one person's. 

[00:13:21] Simon Bucknall: Whereas your realization is that there's a second choice. Second path. Yeah. Which, which is, how would you characterize that? That's 

[00:13:27] a 

[00:13:27] Maryam Pasha: it for me. It's to say [00:13:30] it doesn't matter whether this is real or not, I choose to do. Something different.

[00:13:35] Maryam Pasha: Like, I choose not to listen to this feeling. Yeah, yeah. You know, because in, you know, you, you can be in a context and it can be very sub unconscious. Like you, like when you think about systemic problems, right? Like systemic problems are, the way that they're phrase is that it's not like someone's coming up to you every day and saying something homophobic, racist, sexist, ageist, classist.

[00:13:56] Maryam Pasha: That's not what systemic problems are. It's. [00:14:00] Embedded in the systems and the places that we exist. So it's not like you can just avoid them. They're, they're there. So the question is, what do you do now? Mm-hmm. Right? Mm-hmm. Like, do you say, okay, well this, this may or may not be real, but I have different choices that I can make.

[00:14:17] Maryam Pasha: Mm-hmm. Or do you say, actually, yeah, I, these voices are real, these thoughts are real. They're based in fact. Mm-hmm. I think it's that choice, and I think if you choose to say, it doesn't matter. That I feel this way. This isn't the [00:14:30] truth. Mm-hmm. This is just a set of feelings and they only have so much power as I choose to give them.

[00:14:36] Maryam Pasha: Yes. Then you have other decisions you can make. 

[00:14:38] Simon Bucknall: Same. It's true of managing symptoms of nerves. Of course. 

[00:14:40] Maryam Pasha: Absolutely. 

[00:14:40] Simon Bucknall: Which is a separate episode, isn't it?

[00:14:41] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. 

[00:14:42] Maryam Pasha: I'm 

[00:14:42] Simon Bucknall: experiencing this, this, and this, and you've got a choice of how you interpret it. Yeah. Either you say, Ooh, and that's a problem, and therefore, or I'm experiencing this, this, and this.

[00:14:50] Simon Bucknall: Which I can remember experiencing backstage at Royal Festival Hall for TEDx London. Yeah. Yeah. Those years ago. And the hell are they gonna go anyway. Yeah, I 

[00:14:58] Maryam Pasha: Nerves is a great, a great analogy. [00:15:00] So, you know, one of my favorite things when I'm working with speakers who are nervous is to say, how do, why are you nervous?

[00:15:06] Maryam Pasha: You're nervous because you care. Mm-hmm. So, That's what you just need to say to yourself, not, don't be nervous. Stop being nervous. What's wrong with you? Why can't you get it together? Blah, blah, blah. Mm-hmm. Which is often what I feel when I say, you're beating yourself internally. Like, there's something wrong with you.

[00:15:21] Maryam Pasha: And just accept, I'm nervous because I care and I'm still gonna do this thing. Yeah. And I think that that reframing of it is the same kind of reframing we're talking about here. Yes. [00:15:30] As a 

[00:15:30] Simon Bucknall: line that you, you said in the, in the narrative, which I wrote down here, is that going to stop me? Yeah. Was the voice in your head?

[00:15:36] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Which of course also is dialogue, isn't it? I mean, that, that was the voice in your head thinking, right? Duh, duh. Is that gonna stop me? Which is a much better question than is, is this real? Am I right to be feeling like this? Yeah. Is it them or is it me? Is it both? Is it duh, duh? You're saying, well, all of that stuff actually is not relevant.

[00:15:51] Simon Bucknall: What's relevant is. Uh, is that gonna stop me to do whatever I'm gonna do? Yeah. And I, there's something very, very empowering about that because of course, for a listener, for me, for, for, for people [00:16:00] listening to this on the podcast, of course there's a, yeah. Thinking about my word, my circumstances, my situation where I'm feeling this, this, and this.

[00:16:07] Simon Bucknall: Is that gonna stop me? Yeah. And of course, yeah, you just switch that pronoun. Of course. Is that gonna stop me? Is that gonna stop you? Yeah. It's the kind of thing that stands out. It's lovely when that happens. I think for, in any kind of story or, or, or narrative where there is a voice, there is a moment, there is a phrase which, which leaps out and which is the heart of the.

[00:16:26] Simon Bucknall: Essence of the center of them. 

[00:16:28] Simon Bucknall: And I think, I think, I mean, of what the story's about, 

[00:16:29] Maryam Pasha: [00:16:30] maybe it's good for listeners to know, like, this is not a story I've told very often. Mm. So this is one that's very much in development for me. And so when I just think about that kind of feedback, I think I would then go in and edit it and think my last line should be, is that gonna stop me?

[00:16:44] Maryam Pasha: Is that gonna stop you? Mm. That wouldn't, you know, and I think that's one of the great things about actually talking to people about this and like hearing it. Yeah. Um, for me, actually, one of the, you mentioned this earlier about this being like a sweet, like instead of it being at one moment in time, it's kinda like 10, 20 [00:17:00] years was like deciding those moments.

[00:17:02] Maryam Pasha: And I think, um, Picking where I wanna jump, like where do I wanna like actually say something over this period of time. Yes. Was part of the work for me was to pick these key moments. 

[00:17:13] Simon Bucknall: Yes. Yes. I'm reminded of experience working with somebody that, again, you and I know, in fact, it was, I think the very first time that we collaborated back in 2009.

[00:17:22] Simon Bucknall: Okay. We were in Stockport. I seem to remember, and at the time you were running a program. For social entrepreneurs, each and every one of whom was, [00:17:30] is a refugee. Mm-hmm. Here in the uk. Yeah. And I can still remember, uh, a lady, uh, originally I think from Zimbabwe, I think mm-hmm. Living here, and I forget the exact words, but the essence of it was her saying, yeah, I've got this idea for a project, but I, I've got a challenge, which is every time I walk into council offices or meeting with business leaders or potential donors or supporters or whatever, and I remember her exact words of saying, I know that some of them are thinking or feeling, isn't it nice little black girl trying to do her bit for the community?

[00:17:59] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. And it pisses me [00:18:00] off. Yeah, I remember that distinctly. Yeah. She put it much more politely, more in more sophisticated way than me, but than I did just then. But, and it was fascinating to, as she talked it through that the, of course for her, in the end, what she was about was the key was for her to find a way to.

[00:18:14] Simon Bucknall: To focus on what's most important, which is maybe to acknowledge and say, look, thank you so much for agreeing to see me today. I really appreciate, cuz let's face it, there'd be some people that would see someone like me and think, isn't it nice little back girl trying to do her bit for the community? But that's not why I'm here.

[00:18:25] Simon Bucknall: Yeah, yeah. I don't want your pity, I don't want your calling it out in a way and [00:18:30] saying, I'm here because I believe I can make a difference to your community by doing this, this, and this. And if you're with me, then great. And if not, then that's fine. And actually focusing on. This is not gonna stop me. This is what I'm really about.

[00:18:39] Simon Bucknall: And it, and you could see that in her eyes. That's what the real purpose was. And of course when you start to reframe the language of that in something like a pitch as she was doing, yeah. Then the kind of impact you can achieve in that first minute or two goes through the roof as a result. But it, it was an immediate power that struck you then.

[00:18:54] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Given what you've been saying, 

[00:18:56] Maryam Pasha: I mean, that. Idea of voicing something and [00:19:00] getting it out of the way. Mm. In the beginning is something that I saw you do many, many years ago and has still stuck with me, is, is I think it's a, it's a skill to be able to read the room and it, you know, you wanna do it, right?

[00:19:11] Maryam Pasha: Mm. But the idea of saying, I remember you were talking about it in the context of working in schools where you might look very different than the people in the school. Yeah. Yeah. And just say, what was the phrase? You have this great phrase, like, you might be wondering what. You, 

[00:19:25] Simon Bucknall: Harry Potter's dad's doing in your classroom.

[00:19:26] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Yeah. But be honest, if, if you don't want to be here, just put your hand up. [00:19:30] That was a line I actually stole from, from, from, uh, one of the other, uh, trainers in the program who said, I always asked them, just put their hands up, but they don't wanna be here. I thought, that's brilliant. I love that idea.

[00:19:38] Simon Bucknall: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think, I still think that's, just acknowledge it, put it, 

[00:19:40] Maryam Pasha: that's absolutely, that's absolutely great. And I think. There's a power sometimes to saying, you know, to just speaking what's, what's maybe in people's minds what you may be feeling. You know, I do think a lot of times people do think that public speaking is a lot of like cloak and dagger.

[00:19:58] Maryam Pasha: You know, like you can't tell people [00:20:00] what your core message is. You can't say, this is, you know what I want you to take away, blah, blah, blah. You can absolutely say those things and you can also say, you might be wondering, What someone like me is doing here. Well, let me tell you. Well, you might be, you know, I might be the 10th person you heard from today and you know, you're getting a bit tired, but there's something, you know, whatever it might be, you, you can voice that.

[00:20:19] Maryam Pasha: You have to do your work though. Make sure you're not voicing something that isn't true. Yeah, yeah. Because yeah, you can't tell people, oh, you might be thinking, you might always be sitting here super bored and unengaged and, and people are like, no, [00:20:30] I'm paying attention, but thanks so much. 

[00:20:31] Simon Bucknall: Brene Brown does a fabulous job of that in her.

[00:20:34] Simon Bucknall: Fabled taught the power of vulnerability. It's about two thirds of the way in where she makes a comment about people's lives and the audience laughs and she says, where's the effect of now I know that laugh. That was like, don't forget, I hack into your life for a living. And she like catches the audience on that.

[00:20:49] Simon Bucknall: It's one of, yeah,

[00:20:49] Maryam Pasha: it's brilliant.

[00:20:50] Maryam Pasha: It's so transparent. It's just a, it gets a very, very powerful connection with, uh, with an audience, I think. Yeah. And I think, you know, For people who are building, uh, a story like [00:21:00] this, you know, because I can imagine that if you're working on something that is for social impacts or change or purpose, whether that's like change within a company or because you have a project or whatever it might be, you're gonna be asked sometimes to tell these stories that span like a long period of time.

[00:21:14] Maryam Pasha: Mm-hmm. Um, and. I think what's really important is to give it that kind of structure. So for me, I use this like six sentence structure. I use the Pixar pitch. You will have heard us talk about this in other episodes. It helps me do a couple of things. It helps me decide like what [00:21:30] the key turning points are.

[00:21:31] Maryam Pasha: So like what is that like aha moment? It helps me decide like if that's my aha moment, then when do I start? It helps me decide. Where do I wanna end up? And it also helps me sort through a lot of different things to figure out like what are the one or two most important points of information. Mm-hmm. So I think actually when you do have a story you wanna tell, that is just, could be like an hour.

[00:21:55] Maryam Pasha: Um, you can use these kinds of structures to help, help you do that narrowing [00:22:00] down. And then you can like expand and contract as you need to. Yes, yes. I love the idea that you view that as a story that is in, in development, I think you said, or your story. Yeah, I do. I feel like it's, it's not fully honed in your mind yet.

[00:22:12] Maryam Pasha: If I, yes, absolutely. I feel like I haven't told it enough. Yeah, that's probably why is, is I've probably thought that story or thought that narrative arc. Yes. A lot. And I've told bits of it before. Yes. You know, um, In fact, I think the opening of it is very similar to what I use in the TEDx talk about imposter syndrome.[00:22:30] 

[00:22:30] Maryam Pasha: But for me, I haven't told it in that format and I haven't got enough feedback on it.

[00:22:34] Simon Bucknall: How, remind us of how you open it. How do you decide where to start with the story? Cuz this is one of the real catches. Yeah. I think with story storytelling that people often face is what language do I use to. Get into the story in the first place.

[00:22:46] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. And avoid just a rational summary of events. So, so I actually start with the middle, so Right. I, I start with the turning point. Yeah. Uhhuh and then I work back logically and I think Okay. If that's the turning point, what do they need to know for that turning point to make sense? Yes. [00:23:00] And then what's the beginning of that?

[00:23:01] Maryam Pasha: So I first do that kind of middle to beginning little exercise in my head. And then for me, I try to cut out any of the preamble stuff. Let me tell you, or I'm here today too. Or I want, you know, any of that kind of, you know how they tell you. I'll tell you a story. I'll tell you a story. He's like email writing.

[00:23:19] Maryam Pasha: I had to work very hard to stop writing in my emails. I'm writing to you today to tell you, like, just tell them, yeah, went to the email. But it's the same thing. And so for me, I wanted to start by [00:23:30] this. Recurrence. Like that's what I thought for myself is what is this? Before I heard, so I asked myself this question before you heard about imposter syndrome, how would you characterize the way that you spoke about yourself and thought about yourself and thought about your achievements?

[00:23:44] Maryam Pasha: Yes, and it really then became evident to me that. The, the underlying thing of that was that I would, it was always attributable to something outside of myself, other people, luck except being in the right place at the right time. It was never about my skills and talent and hard [00:24:00] work. Mm. And so I felt like that was something that I realized when I found out about imposter syndrome.

[00:24:05] Maryam Pasha: So that was when I had that light bulb moment. And so I felt like it was really important to, to have that as the context in the lead up. So that was for me, working back from there. Cause I, I agree. I think. If you sit down and you try to tell a story and you just start from the beginning, it's very hard.

[00:24:22] Maryam Pasha: Yes, yes. I actually think it's easier. That's why structures help me, but also it's easier to kind of think, is there a key turning point or is [00:24:30] there a place I wanna end up? Or is there some kind of anchor within the story? Yeah, yeah. And then work outwardly from that. 

[00:24:35] Simon Bucknall: Yes. So I love that. So the, and we sometimes see this in filmmaking of course.

[00:24:39] Simon Bucknall: Where we go straight to an incident or a moment. Yes, exactly. And then there will be a, they'll then the, the, the context, you know, six months early. Oh yeah. It really comes in later. So, so in order to open a story, you're saying you don't have to start literally at the chronological beginning. Yeah. But you do need to have a star point of some kind and to paint that picture or show, show the listener something.

[00:24:59] Simon Bucknall: Exactly. [00:25:00] Um, and. Depending on the kind of story you're telling, I guess that that will be painting a picture of a situation or a point in time and time. Phrases can be great, can't they? We're telling a story and may, may, may not be once upon a time. It could be six months ago, I remember earlier in my career.

[00:25:15] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Something that actually anchors the, the story and a particular time and therefore place. 

[00:25:20] Simon Bucknall: I 

[00:25:20] Maryam Pasha: always ask myself, especially the first 30 seconds, right? What does the audience need to be thinking for everything else to make sense? Mm-hmm. Like whatever they've come to, [00:25:30] whatever. Like, oh, I have to pick up my kids from school.

[00:25:32] Maryam Pasha: Oh, I got this really annoying email. Oh, I'm really excited about my holiday next week, or whatever it might be. Whatever they're coming to. When you start speaking, how do you very quickly get them in the mindset that you need to get them in that, and, and getting them interested or curiosity, but it's, you're battling both those things.

[00:25:48] Maryam Pasha: First, focusing their mind and second, getting them to keep listening. Yes. Yes. And you said something earlier about, about your taking your mind back to how it felt and what it was like. Yeah. 

[00:25:59] Simon Bucknall: Which, [00:26:00] which I think is a fascinating area there about what it feels like emotionally, mentally, too. Go back to some of these experiences, which I think is probably a whole other topic when it comes to difficult storytelling.

[00:26:08] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Cuz there's a difference between reliving and if you like, revisiting.

[00:26:15] Simon Bucknall: You've been listening to 

[00:26:16] Maryam Pasha: Speechless, the podcast from storytelling experts, Maryam Pasha and Simon Bucknall. Hit follow now to keep learning how to tell stories that changed the world. And if you enjoyed it, please leave us a rating and review. Until next time, speak less, say more.[00:26:30]