I was going through my book library recently and I pulled out a favourite old classic book of change – ‘Who Moved my Cheese?’ An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life”, author Spencer Johnson, M.D. makes understanding Change an enjoyable and impactful read.
I love fables, and metaphors really teach us things that standard textbooks often cannot replicate. So, I picked up the book again to read, and thought I’d share an overview of the book with you.
Who Moved My Cheese is a simple story about four characters who live in a maze. Their very purpose for being is the pursuit and enjoyment of “Cheese”. Early on in their lives, all four characters discover “Cheese Station C”; a great wealth of cheese that they enjoy for a very long time. Eventually however, the cheese disappears. It is here that the story begins.
Scurry and Sniff, (two mice) are simple creatures. When the cheese “disappears”, they head back out into the maze to find New Cheese.
Hem and Haw (Littlepeople) on the other hand, respond to the lack of cheese with a sense of betrayal and loss. “It’s not fair!” yells Hem, “Who moved my cheese?!?!”
Hem and Haw waste many days thinking about the situation and wondering when the Old Cheese might return. Finally, as hunger sets in along with the stark reality that the Old Cheese is not going to return, Haw sets out into the maze in pursuit of New Cheese.
As he looks for his “New Cheese”, he writes his learning on the maze walls, hoping that Hem will one day follow him and he can use these learnings.
Haw, eventually finds “Cheese Station N”, which has many different types of cheese, enough to last a life time. Scurry and Sniff, it turns out, arrived at Cheese Station N long before.
Who moved My Cheese? is full of brilliant simplistic insights into our hopes, dreams, fear and actions. The story acts as a gentle yet imaginative reminder of some key facts that we would all benefit from acknowledging:
“Noticing small changes early help you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”
“It’s a lot better to initiate change while you can than it is to try and react and adjust to it. Maybe we should move our own Cheese.”
No matter how content you are, heading out into the maze every now and then to see what other options exist is an important part of growth. Not only will you stay abreast to new potential opportunities, it helps maintain focus and stops the maze from becoming scary.
Whether you initiate it or let it drag you along, change happens. How it affects you is directly related to the attitude you take. Will your foray into the maze be a terrifying one, or exciting? Do you know what it is you’re looking for? As Haw discovered, the more clearly you can picture your Cheese, the more exciting the pursuit is and the more likely you are to find it.
In his intro, Kenneth Blanchard reminds us we all have doubt, uncertainty and fear of the unknown, and yet – change happens. The question becomes “Which part of yourself are you going to embrace?” Are you going to be Hem, stuck at Cheese Station C, wishing the Old Cheese would come back and blaming the Universe for your misfortune? Or are you Haw, charging back out into the maze in pursuit of greater accomplishments and gains? See you at Cheese Station N.
A great read no matter how many times you’ve read this book, pick it up occasionally as the simplicity of the message is incredible.
Another simple ‘Change Happens’ insight can be found below