Moving With Change: Reflections from the book “Who Moved My Cheese?”

We constantly deal with unexpected changes in our lives, be it in our career or relationship, among other things. It’s especially hard to move on to a new path when you are already settled with your present situation.

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change In Your Work and In Your Life is a book about Moving with change, written in the style of a business fable. It is written by motivational speaker and management consultant, Dr Spencer Johnson, and became a New York Times’ bestseller in 1998.

There are four primary characters in the story: the two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and the two littlepeople, Hem and Haw. The story follows their hunt for cheese, the representation of what we want in life (career, relationship, money, etc.). The maze symbolises the place where we spend time looking for it.

The characters are relatable because each represents our common attitude toward change: Sniff has the ability to sense change, while Scurry is quick and mentally acute. The two mice represent the part of us that is simple. On the other hand, the two littlepeople embody our complex parts. Hem and Haw are hesitant with change, but Haw eventually realises that he needs to move with change.

Upon discovering “new cheese”, he left a trail for Hem through the “handwritings on the wall” as he reflects upon his discoveries:

  • Change Happens: They Keep Moving the Cheese

    John Maxwell once said that change is inevitable, and growth is optional. We have to acknowledge the fact that the things we want in life are constantly changing. Acceptance is the first step in moving forward.

  • Anticipate Change: Get Ready for the Cheese to Move

    Sniff and Scurry were not surprised when they found out there are no cheese left in Cheese Station C because they already expected that the cheese will soon run out. One thing we learned from these mice is that we should not succumb to complacency even if we are doing well. We should always have a Plan B. Better be prepared than regret later.

  • Monitor Change: Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

    You should be receptive to your environment in order to observe the changes around you. Sniff already noticed that the cheese supply in Station C is decreasing so he and Scurry looked for another source in the maze.

  • Adapt To Change Quickly: The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, the Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

    As soon as Sniff and Scurry noticed that there is no cheese left in Station C, they didn’t waste any time, and left in search of a new cheese, unlike the two littlepeople who tend to overanalyse things.
    So what do you do when change happens? Just go with it. Nothing good will happen if you deny it or just complain about it. Just like what the book says, “It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation.”

  • Change: Move with the Cheese

    Hem was hesitant to leave Cheese Station C because that was his comfort zone. What is holding Hem back? Fear. He was frightened of the unknown that’s why he refused to move on. On the other hand, Haw realises that he has to overcome this fear in order to find a new cheese.

  • Enjoy Change! : Savour the Adventure and Enjoy the Taste Of New Cheese!

    Now that you accepted change, enjoy the new cheese! In the story, Haw soon appreciated the change of pace and the thrill of the hunt. Now, he’s ready to embark on a new journey in his life, and he couldn’t wait for his friend Haw to follow his path.

  • Be Ready To Change Quickly and Enjoy It Again: They Keep Moving the Cheese

    Again, as you enjoy the new cheese, be wary of your surroundings because another one will come soon. You’ll encounter success and failure along the way, but the learnings and experience will be all worth it.

Like the characters in the backstory, we will learn that these lessons are applicable to the circumstances we encounter in our personal life and in our career. It will change your thinking and attitude towards change. It’s ideal to be like Sniff and Scurry who are always ready and adaptive, but it’s not too late to be like Hem who learned embraced change.


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