How to Adapt Without Losing Yourself

I gotta be me!

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The first thing Jim Parker, former CEO Southwest Airlines, said when I asked him to share the advice he most frequently gives leaders was, “Be yourself.”

“I’m just being me,” can, however, mask stubbornness, resistance, and justify mediocrity. On the other hand, adapting is essential to long-term success.

How can you adapt without losing yourself?

Adapt so others can see the real you
but don’t lose yourself in the process.


What’s more frustrating than positive intentions taken the wrong way? You want to be helpful but others see you as pushy or meddlesome, for example.


  1. Declare your positive intention. “I want to be helpful.” When my wife and I bump heads, I like to say, “I want us to be close.” It helps.
  2. Ask, “What did I do that caused your response?” Search for specific behaviors to avoid. Believe the feedback you receive; don’t resist it.
  3. Ask, “What can I do that helps you see my intent to help?” Search for specific behaviors to employ.

Help others find the inner-you by adapting the external-you.

How many times have you been shocked by strong negative responses to your message? You thought it was a no brainer. Yet, they immediately pushed back. You didn’t give them what they needed.

Adapt communication techniques but don’t lose the message.

Some need more time than others, for example. (Don’t forget you could be wrong. But that’s another post.)


Adapting opens windows; refusing to adapt slams doors.

Someone else controls you when you aren’t yourself; you become defensive and belligerent or easily manipulated. Don’t cling to self-defeating behaviors in the name of authenticity. Personal stability and deep influence includes being seen and understood for who you are.

How can leaders adapt without losing themselves?