Who Moved My Cheese is a short story written by Spencer Johnson. It was first published in 1998. It is a motivational story about 4 characters – two of them are mice and two are humans (of very small size). It highlights the importance of anticipating change, adapting to one’s environment and not taking things for granted.
“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”
Too simple a truth, eh? For cheese and non-cheese lovers alike ! In his world renowned book ‘Who moved my Cheese’ Dr Spencer Johnson treats us with many simple truths like these, leaving us wondering – how could a business self help book be such that it applies to all areas of our life, and doing that in a language that may seem too simple but one that is still heavy with abundance of life-changing truths.
Let’s jump right in.
Who Moved My Cheese: Summary and Plot Analysis
The story revolves around four characters- Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry and the other two are humans , about the size of mice themselves, called Hem and Haw. They live in a maze and depend on cheese for their survival.
In their cheese hunt, they chance upon a spot with supply of cheese enough to last their lifetime, they end up spending a lot of time there.
While the mice are agile and ready to move when the cheese disappears, the humans are stuck in their old ways, All they do is simply take the cheese for granted, sit back and brag about it.
Eventually cheese runs out.
While the mice moved on to find new cheese, Hem and Haw, too set in their old habits, are afraid of what lies out there in the maze and simply complain about them deserving more after all of their hard work.
Too scared to set out, Hem and Haw start blaming each other for their troubles. Over a period of time, Haw gets smarter and decides to explore the maze for more cheese.
Finding that Hem is hesitant to come along, Haw continues to explore further, leaving a trail of messages for Hem, if he ever decides to follow him.
Eventually, he does find a ton of cheese , deep in the maze only to find Sniff and Scurry there already. Learning from his past, Haw is now a vigilant explorer, he monitors the current cheese supply to avoid the same fiasco from happening again. He decides it best for Hem to explore by himself to find his way to him.
3 Reasons to love Who Moved My Cheese?
1 – Where you are and where you will be is your own doing
Times got tough for all four of them. They were all faced with the same challenge. Was the result same for all four? No!
Because each of them chose to respond to the situation in a different way. While Hem and Haw were busy in their blame games and petty squabbles, Sniff and Scurry were already resting with their newfound cheese chest. Haw finally did see the error of his ways and changed eventually to find himself rewarded, who’s to say what happened to our poor old Hem?
2 – Complacency is your worst enemy
Times do get easy and that’s when our worst enemy, complacency, strikes! We are blinded by comfort to an extent that nothing else is visible- even the dangers staring at us right in the face.
Amy Lowell, American Poet, was right on point when she said –‘ Happiness, to some, elation; Is, to others, mere stagnation.’
3 – Stay aware, Be Prepared
Stay away from ‘Bury your head in the sand’ syndrome. The first step in the preparation is to acknowledge that there is a need to change.Like Sniff and Scurry, be aware that the cheese could disappear and you might need to explore and find novel ways to get to the new and better cheese.
7 Wall Writings from Who Moved My Cheese?
The simplicity of this book is priceless. Consider, for instance, the lessons that Haw writes on the wall for Hem.
1 – Change Happens They Keep Moving The Cheese
Change is everywhere- work, home, our communities, you name it . Heraclites – the Greek philosopher – wasn’t wrong when he said “nothing is permanent but change.”
2 – Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Regardless of us seeing change everywhere, how often are we caught by surprise? How often do we see ourselves complaining about it?
3 – Monitor Change Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Are we ever proactive enough to see what lies ahead and what the impending change might entail for us?
4 – Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Are we ready to make a move when the change happens? Are we prepared?
5 – Change Move With The Cheese
Are we changing ? Are we ready to reroute our actions around what the change calls for?
6 – Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
It could be difficult adjusting to change, let alone enjoy it at times, But are we those
nimble agile kind of people that can actually savour change?
7 – Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again They Keep Moving The Cheese.
Are we ready to change again and faster the next time?
So, we have Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw…. which one of those are you?