imposter, Monica El Gamal

The Imposter Phenomenon

Do you feel that you’re not qualified enough to implement your project, even though everyone else views you as a capable and successful individual? Have you ever had the thought that your success was the result of mysterious fluke? Do you sometimes feel that you’re faking and bluffing your way through? And have you ever had a fear of being “found out”?

If you have ever experienced any of these thoughts and feelings, you’re not alone. Many successful people in our society experience this “imposter phenomenon”. It is especially common among high achievers: CEOs, entrepreneurs, university professors, managers, and top students. You can take the Imposter Phenomenon Test to evaluate the extent to which you experience this effect.

According to Diane Zorn, who is one of the leading researchers on the imposter phenomenon, you shouldn’t take this problem too personally. The imposter phenomenon is more of a cultural problem than a personality problem. It appears to be more common in highly competitive cultures. Usually, there is no clear measurement stick against which we can evaluate our performance objectively and see how we stand compared to other people.

Whenever you catch yourself ruminating over an imposter within, try to critique these thoughts rationally. Surrounding yourself with a mentor or a peer support network can be a great help. Individuals who know and care about you can help you in evaluating yourself with a less biased lens and in affirming your competencies and successes.

Never make a decision when you are in the imposter mind state. In this mind state, you will most likely be unable to make sound decisions, and you may not act in the best interest of your project. At extreme cases, some people may reject opportunities because of their fear of being found out. So, make sure that these feelings do not hinder you from achieving your goals, and turning your ideas to reality!

Written by Monica El Gamal

  • “Impostor Phenomenon” By Dr. Pauline Rose Clance.
  • “Feeling like a Fraud: A York researcher documents the imposter phenomenon”.
  • “The Imposter Syndrome: Why do so many successful entrepreneurs feel like fakes?” By Leigh Buchanan.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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