Monday, November 29, 2010

"Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

"Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
94 pages
Published 1998
Source: it was loaned to my husband by a coworker

Apparently it's my month for reading parables.  First The Pearl and now the tale of Sniff and Scurry , Hem and Haw.  This time it's a parable to teach the reader how to deal with having your cheese moved (that is to say change in your life).  Sniff and Scurry are mice who react purely on instinct.  Hem and Haw are littlepeople who use their brains, "filled with beliefs and emotion."  These four creatures live in the "Maze" where they spend their days looking for cheese (the things we want in life). The mice and the littlepeople eventually find their cheese and settle in to enjoy it.  Sniff and Scurry always stay ready, keeping their running shoes tied together and hanging from their necks.  Hem and Haw, however, settle in, convinced that they've got it made. 

Given the title of the book, you know things are going to change for the mice and littlepeople.  Sure enough, one day Sniff and Scurry arrive at their cheese station to discover that there is no longer any cheese there.  Having noticed that they were getting less and less cheese every day, they were ready and quickly took off in search of new cheese.  Hem and Haw had been oblivious and were certain that there would be more cheese if they just stayed at their cheese station.  You know as well as I did that there will be no more cheese.  Sooner or later, Hem and Haw will need to make a move.  But will they have the courage?

The book is broken up into three sections: the first is essentially a set up to tell the story; then the story itself; and, finally, a discussion of the lessons to be learned and how the people in the discussion might apply them.  Certainly this is a short enough book that I could hardly complain about it being too long, but that's exactly what I'm about to do.  Because I really thought the entire first section was pointless.  I did, however, find myself relating to the characters in the story.

At the company where I work, things have been in a state of upheaval for a couple of years.  A lot of people, early on, reacted in much the same way that Sniff and Scurry did and got out early, avoiding the stress those of us that have stayed have suffered.  Many others have reacted in the same way that Haw did, eventually deciding that there had to be something better.  Like Hem, I have to admit that the thought of making a change scared me more than staying put; I kept thinking that things would change.  Fortunately for me, things are turning around.  And I did make a change in positions in the company that will enable me to learn skills that will come in handy down the road.  So, I suppose I have at least put my running shoes back on.

4 comments:

  1. I have heard the title of this book bandied around, but was never really sure what it was about. I am the type of person who makes the move, and doesn't really hang around and suffer if I am not happy, so I wonder what this book would say to and about me? I am glad that you found it easy to relate to, and think I might like to read it too! Good also to hear that things are leveling themselves at your job.

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  2. I had to read this in 1999 for business, and I recall enjoying it.

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  3. Funny that you just read this one, as I have Fish! sitting on my desk right now. It's another corporate/workplace motivator story too!

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  4. LOL. Oh dear, my former company had us watch the "adapted for cartoon" version of this right before they told us we were getting laid off...

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