Who moved my cheese?
I have read many books over the years, and few have profoundly impacted my life and mindset. Who Moved My Cheese is one such book by Dr Spencer Johnson.
I visited a good friend from university. He had a bookshelf full of books on finance, computer science and personal development. One of the books had cheese on the cover, and it caught my eye. I initially thought my friend was a cheese connoisseur. He made a bold claim saying, “this book will change your life”. I wanted to put his claim to the test, so I borrowed it.
The book is small enough to read in one sitting, but the ideas in the book are profound and change how we should see life changes. It altered my thinking and encouraged me to embrace change in whatever form it takes.
WHO MOVED MY CHEESE – A Short Summary
The book tells a story about four characters who live in a maze and go in search of cheese daily. “Cheese” in this context is anything that makes you happy, be it a job, house, money, etc. When the cheese disappears from Cheese Station C, two of the characters (Scurry and Sniff) move on through the maze in search of new cheese. They did not overthink the situation. All they knew was the cheese was no longer where it used to be. So they went in search through the maze in search of new cheese.
The other two characters (Hem and Haw) wasted their time complaining and trying to understand where the cheese went, who moved it, and when it was coming back. They wanted things just the way they used to be. Finally, after some time, Hem decided it was time to move on and find new cheese, but Haw was still stuck in his old way of thinking and wanted the cheese to return.
Scurry, Sniff and Hem found new cheese in Cheese Station N. Haw was still wishing for old cheese, which was never coming back.
There is a short film that tells the story beautifully, and I recommend you watch it at least once a year.
How My Life Changed
Since reading the book, I’ve changed how I see the world. The story got to me as it related to my current circumstances on many levels.
It reminded me of a time when my manager wanted me to take on additional work. I informed her that I was already working evenings and weekends, so I couldn’t absorb additional work. Instead, I advised it might be an opportunity to bring in someone new on board to take on the additional work and lighten my workload. She rolled her eyes at my suggestions, and immediately I knew what that meant. I was wasting my time complaining about my work-life balance.
Since that day, I promised myself that whenever I had the urge to complain about a situation, I would ask myself what I could do instead. So I resigned shortly afterwards and went down the freelancing route without a plan B. That was the best decision in my professional life. You can read all about it in my post about why I quit my job.
Times change and those who adapt are the ones that get ahead. There is no point in complaining about your current situation when you are not going to make a change. The government is not coming to your aid. Your employer will not pay you more just because you want it. It’s up to you to make the most of the hand that you have been dealt. Don’t waste time complaining. You are in a far better situation than most people.
Change What You Do
I’ve seen what happens to people who are adverse to change. They complain all the time but are unwilling to change their situation. In many cases, they enjoy wearing a pair of golden handcuffs. They complain about their managers, the economy, and technology but never look at themselves.
The world is constantly changing, so anticipate it and be ready to adapt. The quicker you let go of the old ways of doing things, the better you will be able to embrace new and better ways of doing things. For example, there is no point in trying to repair your broken Nokia 7110 (matrix phone) when you can get a smartphone that can do much more.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
- How much value do you genuinely bring to your company?
- Do you have skills that make you competitive in the marketplace?
- If you lost your job today, how confident are you that you will find a new job that pays what you are worth
Be brutally honest with yourself in answering these questions. No one has to see it. Instead, the answers should give the reasons to push forth when you feel like getting into your comfort zone.
There is constant change in the economy, technology and how things are done.
When change happens, don’t spend time worrying about why. Instead, prepare yourself to move with it. There are always opportunities created when change happens.
It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared—wise words from Les Brown.