BY TEO HUA HIN
Book Title: Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Dr Spencer Johnson
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publication Year: 1998
With over 2.5 million copies sold worldwide, Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths. It is the amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.
I would have to agree that this book is one of my favourite books that I have ever read.
In this book, Dr Spencer Johnson has simplified the complexities of the change process through the use of four fictional characters — Sniff, Scuff, Hem & Haw.
Sniff and Scurry
Sniff and Scurry had very good instincts. They worked hard every day searching for the cheese.
Every morning, they would put on their jogging suits and running shoes, leave their little homes, and race out into the maze looking for their favourite cheese.
They ran down one corridor to search for the cheese. If it proved empty, they will turn and run down another. They remembered the corridors they went which held no cheese and quickly went into new areas.
Hem and Haw
Hem and Haw, on the other hand, would search each day for the cheese in which they believed would make them feel happy and successful.
They also used their ability to think and learn from their past experiences. They relied on their complex brains to develop more experienced methods of finding cheese. Sometimes they did well, but other times, their more powerful beliefs and emotions overruled the way they looked at things.
A place where Sniff, Scuff, Hem and Haw found their favourite cheese.
Sniff and Scurry continued their daily routine, wake up early, get themselves ready and race through the maze. When they found Station C, they took off their running shoes, tied them together and hung them around their necks before they start enjoying their cheese. This is to get themselves ready whenever they needed them again.
Hem and Haw, whilst, awoke a little later, dressed a little slower, and walked to Station C. After all, they knew where they can find their Cheese now and the way to get to Station C. As soon as they arrived at their destination, they settled in and made themselves at home. They were becoming very comfortable at Station C.
One day, Sniff and Scurry arrived at Station C and noticed there’s no cheese. They weren’t surprised. They observed the portion of cheese had been reduced every day, they were prepared for the inevitable and knew what to do instinctively.
Sniff and Scurry looked at each other, having their gears on and laced them up. Sniff and Scurry did not over-analyse things. To Sniff and Scurry, the answer was simple. The situation at Station C had changed, they need to change as well. They both looked out into the maze and start to look for corner filled with Cheese.
Later, when Hem and Haw arrived at Station C, they were both surprised and Hem yelled “No cheese”. Unfortunately, they did not notice what was different. Hem started blaming every single thing: “Who moved my cheese!”,”It is not fair!”.
They returned to Station C again the next day, hoping the cheese will be there. Again, no cheese. Hem analysed the situation, blaming repeatedly while Haw suddenly remembered Sniff and Scurry. Haw suggested to stop analysing and start reaching out for some new cheese. Hem disagreed and insisted to get to the bottom of this.
Haw realised that he needs to make a change. He needs to start looking for a new cheese, which is better than staying in old place that has no clues. He started to run in the maze and look for new cheese. Eventually, and after almost giving up, he found new cheese in the part of the maze where he had never been. There, he met Sniff and Scurry, enjoying the cheese.
This time, he enjoyed the cheese and continue to go out every day exploring new part of the maze and he checks the cheese every day for signs of change.
Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organisation you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.
The book teaches us that we should always anticipate change and be ready for things to change. We should always stay alert, monitor our current situation so we know when things are starting to not work. We shall adapt to change quickly and let go of old ways of doing things, or the thing themselves.
We must change!