Is This Why You Feel Like An Imposter?

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Have you ever felt like an Imposter?

That is, something inside of you has led you to believe that you’re not everything you say you are and that you’re just fooling others and yourself.

Have you heard this quote from Malcolm Forbes?

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

As an author of two books, I’ve encountered this first hand.

While attending a Toastmasters meeting, someone told me how impressed he was that I had written two books.

I reminded him that he is a surgeon and that I’m impressed by him. I then went on to share how his belief personified what Malcolm Forbes said.

More recently, the host of the small group that we attend at our church, was so impressed that I had written two books that she asked me to speak about them at the small group.

After thinking about it, I decided that while I appreciate the recognition, I’m just as much if not more impressed by her husband starting his own business, another small group member’s martial arts prowess as well as my own wife’s ability to simply listen to our kids for hours on end.

It’s not hard to understand why we downplay our abilities.

After all, everything that we do often seems commonplace and unimportant. It seems this way because it is not special to us.

My wife is an excellent example of this phenomenon. She has a tremendous ability to whip up beautiful things in a matter of minutes.

She created the covers for both of my books which you can see below…

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Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there)

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LinkedIn Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level

…Yet when I tell her how talented she is, she minimizes it.

Back in the 90’s Dunning and Kruger studied human behavior and found a similar pattern.

While you may have heard how,

“Students who scored the lowest in these cognitive tasks always overestimated how well they did—by a lot.” (1)

You may not have heard how,

“Dunning and Kruger found that high-performing students, whose cognitive scores were in the top quartile, underestimated their relative competence.” (2)

And how,

“These students presumed that if these cognitive tasks were easy for them, then they must be just as easy or even easier for everyone else.” (3)

This finding explains my wife’s behavior.

I’d go on to say that it may also explain why you underestimate yourself.


Clark Finnical is a Career Expert and author. Clark’s first book, Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there), was published in 2017. LinkedIn Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level was published last year.


Article originally appeared on


Featured Image by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash


(1) Studies find high achievers underestimate their talents, while underachievers overestimate theirs. By Kate Fehlhaber. June 9, 2017.

(2) Fehlhaber.

(3) Fehlhaber.

The actual study which Fehlhaber refers to is entitled,

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. 

It was published inJournal of Personality and Social Psychology 77(6):1121-34 ·on  January 2000.