Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who Moved the Cheese

I guess this week I am resting on discussing change.  A great little book I read is Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson.  It is a parable revealing certain truths about change.  It features four characters: two mice, "Sniff" and "Scurry," and two little beings, "Hem" and "Haw." They live in a maze and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life and the maze is where you look for what you want.  The mice and little beings pair off and travel the corridors searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon cheese. Content with their find, the little beings establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at the cheese station to find no cheese left, but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the task of finding more cheese. Leaving the cheese station behind, they begin to immediately hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at the cheese station only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands, "Who moved my cheese?" The little beings  have counted on the cheese supply to be constant, and so are unprepared for this eventuality. After deciding that the cheese is indeed gone they get angry at the unfairness of the situation and both go home starved. Returning the next day, Hem and Haw find the same cheeseless place. Starting to realize the situation at hand, Haw thinks of a search for new cheese. But Hem is dead set in his victimized mindset and nixes the proposal.

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found a new cheese station with cheese. Back at the old cheese station, Hem and Haw are affected by their lack of cheese and blame each other for their problem (Sounds like our congress, doesn’t it?). Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. However, Hem is comforted by his old routine and is frightened about the unknown. He knocks the idea again. After a while of being in denial, the little beings remain without cheese. One day, Haw begins to chuckle at the situation and stops taking himself so seriously. Realizing he should simply move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before writing "If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct" on the wall of cheese station for his friend to ponder.

Still fearful of his trek, Haw jots "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" on the wall and, after thinking about that, he begins his venture. Still plagued with worry (perhaps he has waited too long to begin his search...), Haw finds some bits of cheese that nourishes him and he is able to continue his search. Haw realizes that the cheese has not suddenly vanished, but has dwindled from continual eating. After a stop at an empty cheese station, Haw begins worrying about the unknown again. Brushing aside his fears, Haw's new mindset allows him to again enjoy life. He has even begun to smile again! He is realizing that "When you move beyond your fear, you feel free." After another empty cheese station, Haw decides to go back for Hem with the few bits of new cheese he has managed to find.

Uncompromising, Hem refuses the new cheese, to his friend's disappointment. With knowledge learned along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Getting deeper into the maze, inspired by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall ("The Handwriting is on the Wall"). These clarify his own thinking and give him hope that his friend will find aid in them during his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across a new cheese station, abundant with cheese, including some varieties that are strange to him, and he realizes he has found what he is looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. He ponders a return to see his old friend. But Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the new largest wall cheese station, he writes: Cautious from past experience, Haw now inspects the cheese station  daily and explores different parts of the maze regularly to prevent any complacency from setting in. After hearing movement in the maze one day, Haw realizes someone is approaching the station. Unsure, Haw hopes that it is his friend Hem who has found the way.

I highly recommend the book if you have not read it.  I benefitted by reading it.  If you have to deal with change and we all do, give it a read.  I think you will enjoy it.  It really gives you some in sight on how to deal with change. I’d like to think that I’m not one of the little beings, but one of the mice.  I’m Scurry rushing ahead and running into walls but eventually getting where I wanted to go and finding the cheese. 

No comments:

Post a Comment