Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, Kenneth H. Blanchard

Who Moved My Cheese?
Title: Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Dr. Spencer Johnson & Kenneth H. Blanchard
Format: Paperback
Pages: 98 pages

My Rating: 5/5

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"Written by Spencer Johnson, coauthor of The One Minute Manager, this enlightening and amusing story illustrates the vital importance of being able to deal with unexpected change. Who Moved My Cheese? is often distributed by managers to employees as a motivational tool, but the lessons it teaches can benefit literally anyone, young or old, rich or poor, looking for less stress and more success in every aspect of work and life."

My Thoughts:

"Wow!" That's all I was able to say once I was done with this book. Although a simple and straightforward parable that many could claim is based on common sense, I couldn't help but be 'wowed' by the simple lessons contained in this tale. The parable follows the adventures of four characters trapped in a maze. Two of these are mice named "Sniff" and "Scurry" and the other two are "Little People" who have the complex thought processes, beliefs and emotions of humans.

These four characters represent the different parts of the mind and its thought processes, in order to illustrate the different ways we can react to change in our lives. While "Sniff", with his simpler thought processes, is able to monitor events and sniff out change so that he is prepared once change occurs and his cheese is moved, "Scurry" (with similar simplicity in the way his mind works) is the more action-orientated part of our minds that immediately scurries into action and doesn't waste time in moving on when the cheese is moved.

However, "Hem" with his complex human-like thought processes refuses to move ahead but remains uselessly standing around complaining with an unwavering sense of entitlement about his cheese being moved, refusing to go out into the maze in search of new cheese but staying put and waiting for his old (and possibly mouldy) cheese to be placed back in its original place. His friend "Haw" sticks around complaining with him about their poor lot in life, until he realises the futility of their actions and that there is a possibility that new and even better cheese may be found if he could laugh at his own foolishness, overcome his fears and venture forth into the big, bad maze out there in the hope of securing new cheese for himself. The parable ends with Haw catching up to Sniff and Scurry who have found a huge pile of cheese and gorging himself on the cheese, while wondering if his friend Hem was able to overcome his foolish obstinacy and fears and ventured out into the maze or if he had remained hemmed in by his fears, grew weak with hunger and eventually died.

Of the many useful lessons contained in the story, these are a few that will always stay with me:

-You shouldn't take yourself too seriously. You are only able to initiate positive change when you can acknowledge and laugh at your own foolishness.
-When you change your old and dysfunctional beliefs, you can finally change your behaviour for the better.
-It is easy to fall into a depression and feel sorry for yourself when you're standing still and doing nothing. But, once you're on the move and are actively seeking solutions to your problems by throwing yourself back into the maze, you feel a sense of accomplishment.
-It is often a fear of failure that holds us back in life and prevents us from seeing the potential positivity in change.
-Going out into the maze again to look for cheese may be a long and difficult journey; we may feel disheartened and discouraged, but the important thing is learning the lessons that are taught to us along the way and noting them down for future reference so that even if we find our new cheese, we hold our lessons close to us in constant preparation for future change and moved cheese.

A word of caution, however. The parable does not take into account the aspect of the divine, fate, or luck, as some would choose to call it. After reading this book, I immediately set out to let go of old cheese and move on to new cheese, but, as unlikely and impossible as it seemed to all those around me, my old cheese came back to me at a completely unexpected time and in an entirely unexpected way. Just when I'd lost hope of regaining my moved cheese, and was reeling from the shock of having it removed from right under my nose, 'voila!' and it magically reappeared through a fateful phone call I received just yesterday. However, the lesson has not been wasted on me and I will make sure to tie the laces of my trainers together and hang them around my neck (in the manner of Sniff and Scurry), in constant preparation for change.

Recommended for:

Anyone faced with change, in need of inspiration and self-help techniques or just interested in their personal development.


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