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

Today’s recommended book read is “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H. Blanchard.

Dr Spencer Johnson wrote this book through a difficult time in his life. It illustrates the importance of being able to deal with unexpected change.

He realises the need for finding the language and tools deal with change – an issue that makes us all nervous and uncomfortable. Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.

The book is about how two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two miniature humans named Hem and Haw are trapped in a maze that serves as a metaphor for the inherent restrictions and vicissitudes of our lives. One day some invisible force beyond their control takes the cheese from a sector of the maze, sending our mice and little people looking for more. Sniff and Scurry, we are told, have the right attitude because “they keep life simple…they don’t overanalyse or overcomplicate things,” and rather than question why the cheese was taken from them they accept change and looking for more. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, like too many humans, we are told, over-think things and fixate on their past comforts and expectations and spend too much time stewing over the unfairness of their loss of food rather than fearlessly getting out there and looking through the maze for more.

The humans, Hem and Haw, began to blame everyone for what was happening and still returned every day in the hope that someone else had replaced the cheese. Hem resists change, as he thinks it leads to bad things. Whereas, Haw realised for things to change he had to change and decide to look for new choose and in doing so developed his ‘writing on the wall’ as a tool to deal slowly and adapt to change.

Writing on the Wall

  1. If you do not change, you become extinct.
  2. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  3. Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old.
  4. Movement in a new direction helps you find the cheese.
  5. When you stop being afraid, you feel good.
  6. Imagining yourself enjoying your new cheese leads to it.
  7. Quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.
  8. It is safer to search in the maze than remain in cheese less situation.
  9. Old beliefs do not lead to new cheese.
  10. When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you can change course.
  11. Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to bigger changes that are to come.

The main character, Haw finally realises that nothing can change in your life unless you change it yourself first. There will always be new cheese out there, and we will be rewarded with that cheese if we learn to let go of our fears, adapt and accept change and learn to enjoy the adventures along the way.

You can read this book within less than one hour. Critics of the book claim that it was written in too simplistic terms suited for a children’s novel. In response to the critics claim, Dr. Johnson agreed but pointed out that it’s not how the book is written that is important, but how you interpret the moral of the story and how you can use the principles to your circumstances that are important.

Author: Pauline Campbell, Editor: Gabrielle D’Cruze