Book Summaries

Book Summary – Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.

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Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths about change. It is an amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a ‘Maze’ and look for ‘Cheese’ to nourish them and make them happy.

“Cheese’ is a metaphor for what you want to have in life – whether it’s a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, good health, or spiritual peace of mind.

The Maze’ is where you look for what you want – the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully, and writes what he has learned from his experience on the maze walls.

When you come to see ‘The Handwriting on the Wall ‘, you can discover for yourself how to deal with change, so that you can enjoy less stress and more success (however you define it) in your work and in your life.

“What Would You Do If You Weren’t afraid?”

Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. And two are little people’ – beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people. Their names are Hem and Haw.

The Simple and The Complex

The four imaginary characters depicted in this story —the mice: “Sniff” and “Scurry;’ and the Little people: “Hem” and “Haw” —are intended to represent the simple and the complex parts of ourselves, regardless of our age, gender, race or nationality.

Sometimes we may act like:

Sniff

Who sniffs out change early, or

Scurry

Who scurries into action, or

Hem

Who denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse, or

Haw

Who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better!

The Who Moved My Cheese? Story

They live in a maze, a representation of one’s environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans, paired off and traveled the lengthy corridors searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor at “Cheese Station C.” Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at “Cheese Station C” to find no cheese left, but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the arduous but inevitable task of finding more cheese. Leaving “Cheese Station C” behind, they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands, “Who moved my cheese?” The humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant, and so are unprepared for this eventuality. After deciding that the cheese is indeed gone they get angry at the unfairness of the situation. Haw suggests a search for new cheese, but Hem is dead-set in his disappointment and dismisses the proposal.

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found “Cheese Station N,” and new cheese. But back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw are affected by their lack of cheese and blame each other for their problem. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. However, Hem is comforted by his old routine and is frightened about the unknown. He knocks the idea again. After a while of being in denial, the humans remain without cheese. One day, having discovered his debilitating fears, Haw begins to chuckle at the situation and stops taking himself so seriously. Realizing he should simply move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiseling “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct” on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.

“If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct”

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found “Cheese Station N,” and new cheese. But back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw are affected by their lack of cheese and blame each other for their problem. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. However, Hem is comforted by his old routine and is frightened about the unknown. He knocks the idea again. After a while of being in denial, the humans remain without cheese. One day, having discovered his debilitating fears, Haw begins to chuckle at the situation and stops taking himself so seriously. Realizing he should simply move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiseling “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct” on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.

Still fearful of his trek, Haw jots “What Would You Do If You Weren’t afraid?” on the wall and, after thinking about that, he begins his venture. Still plagued with worry (perhaps he has waited too long to begin his search…), Haw finds some bits of cheese that nourish him and he is able to continue his search. Haw realizes that the cheese has not suddenly vanished, but has dwindled from continual eating. After a stop at an empty cheese station, Haw begins worrying about the unknown again. Brushing aside his fears, Haw’s new mindset allows him to again enjoy life. He has even begun to smile again! He is realizing that “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.” After another empty cheese station, Haw decides to go back for Hem with the few bits of new cheese he has managed to find.

“When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.”

Uncompromising, Hem refuses the new cheese, to his friend’s disappointment. With knowledge learned along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Getting deeper into the maze, inspired by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall (“The Handwriting On the Wall”). These clarify his own thinking and give him hope that his friend will find aid in them during his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across Cheese Station N, abundant with cheese, including some varieties that are strange to him, and he realizes he has found what he was looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. He ponders a return to see his old friend. But Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the largest wall in Cheese Station N, he writes:

Change Happens – They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change – Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change – Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly– The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Change – Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change! – Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again – They Keep Moving The Cheese.

“You can believe that a change wil harm you and resist it. Or you can believe that finding New Cheese wil help you and embrace the change.”

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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