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Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 11/20/10 3:00 PM

Why I Read It

This short 90 page book was given to me by a friend after I related to her the story of my youngest son who had a complete meltdown any time he was faced with a change that he was unprepared for. Despite my attempts to explain to him that this was just how life went sometimes- you're thrown lots of curve balls and have to do your best to work through them, he never seemed to be able to handle it well.

Then I thought about how many business owners and marketers I talk to who have the same problem in their business. How can the lessons in this book apply?

What It's About

To summarize; Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two "little people" (Hem and Haw) trapped in a maze. Cheese is a metaphor for whatever you want in your life. For the mice, it's cheese. For the "little people," it could be success, happiness, or financial security.

One day, the foursome finds cheese in Cheese Station C. Everyone likes the cheese and  returns day-after-day to eat it. The little people become comfortable and plan that the cheese will always be there. The mice on the other hand, are always wearing their sneakers around their necks, ready to move on at a moments notice.

Then one day, the cheese is gone.

The mice weren't completely surprised, they noticed the supply had been dwindling. The little people however were astonished and frozen in fear.

Without giving it too much thought, the mice went looking for new cheese in the maze. They didn't try to hold on to a past that no longer existed.

The little people were different. They had come to view Cheese Station C as their home. They bragged about it. They felt it was theirs. They were outraged, shocked, scared, and befuddled when the cheese disappeared. In their comfort, they didn't notice the cheese supply had been dwindling, nor that it had become old and smelly. They had become complacent.

Hem and Haw felt the situation was unfair. It was their cheese, and now it was gone. Hem and Haw remained in Cheese Station C hoping the cheese would return and wondering where it had gone.

One day, Haw decided that waiting for the cheese to return wasn't working. (Definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.) He was getting weaker the longer he remained, and figured staying and starving can't be any better than moving on into the maze looking for new cheese. Haw was afraid of the unknown, that he wouldn't find new cheese, but he felt that he didn't really have a choice.

On his cheese-seeking quest, Haw started to learn a few things and recorded them on the wall of the maze in the hopes that his friend Hem would follow him and see his notes as encouragement.

Hem was hemmed in by his old ideas. He may have starved, the story never tells of his fate.

What I Learned from Reading It

Turns out this little book caused quite a stir when it was initially published. Critics said it was  basic common sense that any child could understand. Others said it was suggesting that all change is good and we are mindlessly conforming.

Now you might be wondering why I am including this in a blog about internet marketing. Perhaps Haw's tips will help shed some  light.

  1. Change Happens. (it's inevitable)
  2. Anticipate Change. (for the reason, see #1)
  3. Monitor Change. (so you know how you are progressing)
  4. Adapt to Change Quickly. (so you don't starve)
  5. Change. (don't just talk about it!)
  6. Enjoy Change. (you might as well enjoy the ride!)
  7. Be read to change again and again. (see #1)

How I Put It Into Practice

  1. In both my personal and professional life (and really, there is not much of a line there) I have learned that stuff happens- no matter how much you research or plan, there will always be unexpected curve balls.
  2. Accepting the fact that stuff happens makes it easier to prepare for the inevitable changes. So in both personal and work, have a plan B (& C, D, E & F).
  3. Because you know that things will change, keep a sharp eye out. Don't assume anything will stay the same in your industry. Keeping in tune with the market and your customers will give you the clues you need to tell when change is about it happen.
  4. When change does happen, don't wait to react to it. Don't be scared to take action because, oh my, what if it is the wrong thing to do? The reality is that many of us use this as an excuse to hide from change. A wise friend once told me, "If it's crap, and you are holding on to crap, it's still crap."
  5. There comes a point when thinking and planning need to cease, and action needs to happen. Set a goal, deadline and just do it.
  6. Change is scary, yes. But with the right learning mindset, change can be fun and exciting. Change is how we learn.
  7. It is all a cycle of some kind. There is no end, only another beginning.

Check it out on Amazon if you want to read it yourself. Or if you have already read it, post a comment on what you thought of it.

Are you in the middle of change with your business now? Not sure how to tread the new waters? A conversation costs you nothing, and it might give you a new perspective.

Topics: book review