Described as one of the most successful motivational books ever, Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (paid link) may be small but it packs a powerful punch about managing change.
My dog-eared copy is getting battered, the corners are turning as yellow as a mild Dorset Cheddar (Ok, no more cheese references) because I’ve had this book for years and read it dozens of times.
So, why do I keep returning to a book about two mice ‘Sniff’ and ‘Scurry’ and two Littlepeople ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ who put their jogging suits on every morning to run through a maze in search of cheese? Because Dr Spencer Johnson successfully tells in 95 pages what some will waffle on about for hundreds.
The maze, like life, is a labyrinth of corridor some of which contain cheese. But, there are also dark corners where you can get lost.
To navigate their way, Sniff and Scurry keep things simple whereas Hem and Haw use their complex brains and emotions. This sometimes makes things more complex and daunting.
They both find a massive stockpile of cheese at Cheese Station C, but one day it runs out.
Sniff and Scurry had seen it coming. They were ready. They adapted. Haw was shocked and Hem shouted ‘It’s not fair – who moved my cheese.
The Cheese for them had become a safe place. It had become so important they couldn’t let it go and kept returning to the Cheese Station expecting things to be different.
While Hem and Haw were deliberating on the injustice of it all, Sniff and Scurry found Cheese Station N – the biggest they had ever seen.
What this motivational book teaches me
Dr Johnson wrote the book to help him deal with a difficult life change. For me, it gives these lessons:
• We all need to find a way out in changing times
• Don’t get too comfortable or stuck
• Be open to new ideas and keep a check on your emotions
• Don’t be blind to what’s going on around you – adapt when you see something happening
• Change = great opportunities (if you stay open minded)
Some people think this book is childish. But, in the end, if you allow yourself, you will identify with one of the four characters.
When my instincts are as off as a Blue Stilton week’s past it’s shelf life (sorry, I lied) I use this book as a motivational kick.
I ask myself a) which mouse or littleperson am I and b) ok the cheese is moving again – are you ready? What are you going to do about it?