Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is a short (under 100 pages) self-help book that touts itself as “An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life.” The author depicts life in a very simple manner where two mice and two “littlepeople” have to deal with unexpected change.
My Cheese Story
I read this book at a time of my life when I felt things weren’t changing. I felt like I was doing everything right and nothing seemed to be going the way I wanted anymore. I finished my time in the military, went back to school, and worked full-time so I could save money to get married and buy a house. When I graduated college, I assumed that I could start a new career and help people in a new and different way.
My timing couldn’t have been worse. Graduating with a degree in finance at the bottom of the economy was something spectacular. Applying for jobs was the equivalent of talking to a brick wall. There was simply no response.
The problem? Lack of “experience.”
I was told to seek out internships so I could get a job at the bottom rung of the finance ladder making less than half of the salary at my current job. OK, sure! What’s does a married guy with a mortgage who spends most of his free time taking care of his elderly parents need with a paying job anyway? I’ll drop everything so I can fetch coffee and deliver mail for free. I don’t mind adding my home to the long list of foreclosures at all.
I felt stuck. I started feeling upset and resenting how I led my life. I felt I deserved more.
The four characters in the book represent different types of personalities that can be observed when change occurs.
- The mouse Sniff is someone who detects change happening early on.
- The mouse Scurry is someone who takes action when change happens.
- The littleperson Hem is someone who denies and resists change. This type of person believes change is terrible.
- The littleperson Haw is someone who eventually adapts to change because they believe it will lead to something better.
The mice didn’t over analyze things. They used their instincts and changed their behavior when changes occurred and moved around in the maze to find new cheese as needed. The littlepeople didn’t notice the changes happening around them. They became comfortable and felt like they worked hard to achieve success. They deserved it! When they finally noticed things were moving around them, they felt great injustice.
My Cheese Got Old
I assumed a new job would be waiting for me when I finished school. I failed to read the writing on the wall. Most importantly, I did nothing to change my situation. I held on to my beliefs of how things should get done and I was afraid to deviate from “the plan.” I became extinct.
For the first time in my life, I was going nowhere. People all around me seemed to be improving their lives. All I could do was put my head down and keep working and complaining.
The Handwriting On The Wall
- Change happens.
- Anticipate change.
- Monitor change.
- Adapt to change quickly.
- Enjoy change.
- Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again.
After reading Who Moved My Cheese? it was easy to get the message of the book: Change happens – adapt or die. Although the book is written very simply, and you can easily criticize it for stating the obvious, it was quite insightful to me.
How obvious was change to people who work hard day in and day out, only to be laid-off during these past few years? If this happened to you, you might not have seen it coming. Looking back, do you now see all the signs you missed?
Finding New Cheese In Unusual Places
In my case, I had plenty of cheese. It just wasn’t the type of cheese I wanted. But, I had cheese and it felt safe. Going out to find the cheese I really wanted was scary. It took a book about a rat race to put things in perspective again. I realized that things weren’t going to change for me if I didn’t let go of my fears.
I slowly started to look for new cheese and imagined what I wanted my life to be like. I ended up reinventing my goals. I still have my old cheese, but I’m starting to taste what the new cheese is like. It’s been challenging, but I am enjoying new endeavors and am doing things I never would have imagined. The best part? I’m fulfilling my need to help people in a new and different way.
Do You Need To Look For New Cheese?
I think everyone can benefit from Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It will be time well spent reading and pondering how you can apply the story to your personal situation.
Everyone faces change at some point in their life. If you are able to bring the ideas of the story to the forefront of your mind, it can help you deal with the stress of change and how you adjust your attitude to benefit from it.
Have you had any big changes to your life recently? How did you handle it? Are there any changes you’d like to make in your life?