Who Moved My Cheese? Why changing course and “moving with the cheese” is hard for us all.

A few years back, an old mentor of mine recommended that I read “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. At the time I read a few pages not really getting the significance of it at all and quietly dropped the book to one side. The messages it contained simply didn’t click with me and I dismissed it as just another guru book. One of the most successful business books of it’s time wasn’t for me and I very quickly forgot all about it. I didn’t see the point of the story and in hindsight I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that “I” needed to change.

Until recently, I was moving some boxes into storage and I happened upon my copy of the aforementioned tome, it’s pages still fresh and crisp as the day it was purchased. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, it takes place in a maze where four characters – Sniff, Scurry (Mice), Hem & Haw (Little People) all look for “Cheese”, cheese being a metaphor for the things we want in life, be it a job, a career, money, a house, a relationship, health, whatever it might be. As Kenneth Blanchard explains in the foreword or the story behind the story, “Each of us has our own idea of what Cheese is and we pursue it because we believe it makes us happy. If we get it we become attached to it. And if we lose it, or it’s taken away, it can be traumatic”. The “Maze” in the story represents where we spend time looking for the things we want in life, the companies we work in, the communities we live in or the relationships we foster and develop.

Each of the four characters suffers the loss of their “Cheese” and the story develops how each responds to this sudden trauma. Sniff and Scurry recognise quickly that the “Cheese” is gone and quickly move on and adapt to their changed circumstances. They immediately set out to find “New Cheese”. Hem and Haw on the other hand overly complicate the situation by wondering at length who “moved” their cheese and when it’s going to come back. (The real story here is that they failed to recognise that their “Cheese” was dwindling and were shocked when it was all gone.) Instead of “adapting” to their sudden change, they “hem and haw” about going out into the maze for “New Cheese” instead worrying and fretting about what they might face in the maze. Instead of keeping things simple and moving with the change, they froze and allow their fear of the unknown to paralyse them into inertia.

Now for those of you who’ve read the story, you’ll know how it ends and I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who might be curious enough to read this book on foot of my blog. I think though that the messages that the book transmits are what remain with you long after you’ve read it and I’ll highlight the main ones here.

When change happens, it’s best to keep things simple. By doing the simple things that work, you’ll adapt and move with the changes happening. In the story, Sniff and Scurry didn’t think of anything else but finding “New Cheese”, so it’s important that we’re always aware of where our “New Cheese” lies.

Having “Cheese” makes us happy. The more important your “Cheese” is to you, the more you want to hold onto it. But when changes occur and your “Cheese” disappears, You need to change and do things differently in order to get it back. Doing the same things over and over and wondering why things don’t get better is counterproductive. It’s high time you realized that they’re never going to put yesterday’s cheese back – it’s time to find “New Cheese”. Life moves on and so should we.

If you do not change, you can become extinct. For many of us our greatest fear is fear of change and fear of doing anything that takes us beyond our comfort zones. This fear is immobilising and is ultimately what stops many of us from ever finding “New Cheese”. So challenge yourself today – “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

When you stop being afraid you feel good. What you’ll realise pretty quickly when you stop being afraid to try new things (chase new dreams and goals) is that your fears were unfounded and that what seemed like an impossible task was nothing but an obstacle you had created in your own mind. The key is to keep moving in the direction of your “New Cheese” and to imagine what your life will be like when you reach your goal. You also may have to let go of the “Old Cheese” in your life in order to find “New Cheese” and this could mean changing your attitude and behaviours in order to adapt.

Noticing Small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come. For some of us, this could be a minor change in our job responsibilities that signals a change in career direction down the line. The important thing is to be aware of these “small changes” and to change with them. As Dr. Johnson advises us to “Enjoy Change” – Savour the adventure and enjoy the taste of “New Cheese”.

Has someone moved your cheese? If you’re seeking out the “New Cheese” in your career, why not call or contact Campbell Rochford today? Together we can help navigate your “Maze” and lead you to your ultimate career goal. Call us today on 01-9065116 or email [email protected]

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great.

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