Who moved my Cheese is one book that completely explains the concept of change in the most simplified terms possible. The paperback version of the book had only 32 pages but explicitly explained the nature of humans (and mice alike) in dealing with change. The entire book was written metaphorically but the message was very clear.
So there are four characters in the book- Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw (their personalities can be derived from the literal meanings of their names). Sniff and scurry are mice with very simple needs and Hem and Haw are little people with much more complex thought patters and who, well, analyse things a little too much.
These characters all live together in a maze and all aspire to have ‘cheese’. For sniff and scurry, cheese is just cheese. However, for Hem and Haw, cheese represents security, a big house and all the cool things we desire as humans. All these characters live in a maze, which can simply be seen as life in general.
Basically, four of them have a source of ‘Cheese’ known as ‘Cheese Station C’. Sniff and Scurry moved closer to their source of cheese and Hem and Haw simply relax in their comfort zones and stroll to the cheese station for their daily source of cheese.
The problem comes when one day, ‘Cheese station C’ was out of cheese. Sniff and Scurry simply sniff and scurry about the maze until they found ‘Cheese station N’ which had way more fresh cheese than they have ever seen before.
However, Hem and Haw simply ‘Hemmed and Hawed’. Hem kept on shouting “who moved my cheese” and did nothing about it and Haw, after wasting ample time, finally decided that change had come and that he had to move. Hem refused to leave his comfort zone and the rest of the book is centred on Haw’s journey to finding ‘Cheese’.
Haw realised a few things on his way to the new source of ‘Cheese’.
- Having Cheese makes you happy
- When you change what you believe, you change what you do
- They keep moving the cheese
- Get ready for the cheese to move
- Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
- Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese
- Imagining myself enjoying new cheese even before I find it, leads me to it
- It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheese less situation
- Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese
- Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese
In any case, Haw finds ‘Cheese Station N’ with the newest and best cheese he has ever seen after running through the maze and making his way through obstacles. He soon realises that Sniff and Scurry have gotten there a long time ago. However, Hem remains sick and dying with no cheese and no will to find new cheese. Hem still asks ‘who moved my cheese?’
From the above summary of the book, you would see the individuality of all humans imbedded in it. For starts, Sniff and Scurry did not overthink anything and moved immediately. However, the little people or simply- humans, tend to overthink every detail and try to decipher every little thing in a complex way.
Change happens and we must be ready to move with it. Haw’s findings can be summarized into these:
- Change happens
- Anticipate Change
- Monitor Change
- Adapt to Change quickly
- Enjoy Change
The entire book was based on this simple story but was able to completely analyse the rudiments of humans and our reaction to things when they do not work according to plan. Change may, however, be a little bit more complex than cheese or simply running through a maze. Sometimes, you need to think things through before you sniff and scurry. Still, Dr. Johnson offered an analysis that was too true to be refused.
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This is one book I read a long time ago and the only thing I picked from it was ‘change’. However, that was all that needed to be understood. As humans, we get awfully comfortable with our current status, especially when it is favourable. It is definitely a must read for all; luckily, the entire piece can be read in less than an hour.
I rate this book 3.9 out of 5. You can give it your own rating below.
About the Author
Spencer Johnson, M.D is an author, writer and is known for his bestselling books: The One Minute Manager and his 1998 motivational book Who Moved My Cheese?, which recurred on the New York Times Bestseller list, on the Publishers Weekly Hardcover nonfiction list. He is also known for ValueTales series of children’s books. He has a psychology degree from the University of Southern California, an M.D. from the Royal College of Surgeons and medical clerkships at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.