Are You Willing to Search for Your Cheese?

by on September 5, 2012

Many years ago during my corporate career, I remember being introduced to the book “Who Moved My Cheese,” written by Spencer Johnson.  While I remembered I had enjoyed it and the lesson it taught, I had forgotten the details.  My wife recently brought a copy home that had been lent to her.  The book is an easy read, with it able to be completed in less than an hour.  However, its message is still as powerful today, when I first read it many years ago.  Its message ties very well into this month’s quote.  The theme on this month’s page of the Motivations calendar is effort. The quote of the month reads, “Where some see obstacles, others see exciting challenges.” The book’s message ties directly into what is being shared in this month’s quote.

“Who Moved My Cheese” focuses on four characters.  Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry.  The other two characters are “little people” named Hem and Haw.  All set out in a maze to find cheese since they all love its taste.  The two mice use their instincts to find what they want.  They tend not to over analyze, but instead use their senses to get quickly to where they want to be.  Eventually they find a spot in the maze that has all the cheese they need.  While it is not the best cheese, it meets their needs perfectly, and they subsist on it for a long time.  Hem and Haw also make their way through the maze and after some effort not only find cheese for themselves but a cheese of a far greater quality than that found by Sniff and Scurry.  They too have found a supply of cheese that will last them quite awhile.

As time goes on eventually the supply of cheese for both Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw begins to run out.  Sniff and Scurry realize this right away, and immediately seek out other areas in the maze to find a new supply of cheese that will meet their needs.  Going on nothing again but their natural instincts, they ultimately find a new supply that will last them a long time.  However, Hem and Haw are not quick to react to the dwindling supply of cheese in their part of the maze.  Their initial reaction is that someone has taken their cheese from them.  There is never any realization that over time that they have used up the supply they had found, and now would be the time to move onto someplace different.

However, Hem and Haw are afraid of moving out of the part of the maze where they have been.  They have grown comfortable there.  They wait for awhile to have someone come along and fix their situation.   No one does come.  Eventually, Haw realizes much like Sniff and Scurry did, they must look to move on to find a new source of cheese.  Hem however, is not willing to move on, and at first scares Haw from venturing away from their part of the maze.  However, cautiously, Haw begins venturing out.  Over time he realizes moving away from his comfort zone has caused him no harm.  And, while he has to search for quite awhile, he ultimately comes to another portion of the maze that has his new source of cheese.  However, at this point, he has left Hem behind.  Haw never does find out if Hem ever decided to venture out from his comfort zone in the maze looking for a new supply of cheese.

While none of the four characters in the story necessarily ever saw exciting challenges ahead of them, the two mice never let obstacles intimidate them.  They were on a mission to find what they needed, and were not going to let anything stop them.  Haw, while very cautious at first, grows to see that obstacles that he imagined were not as awesome as he thought, and ultimately he did begin to appreciate the exciting challenges he was beginning to come across in other portions of the maze.  Hem however, appears to never get beyond the obstacles.  He lets his fears get the best of him, and stays where he is comfortable, even if it is not meeting his needs any longer.

It takes an effort to move out of your comfort zone. The unknown and the obstacles ahead can appear overwhelming.  However, many times like Haw, if we begin to venture out and look to explore new places or opportunities they’re not as intimidating as we imagined.  However, if we never make the effort, we are bound to stay stuck in place like Hem, hoping that what once was will be put back the same way for us.   In today’s ever changing world, that is not likely to happen.  Therefore, when faced with that change in your life that appears too much of an obstacle to overcome, remember the story of “Who Moved My Cheese” and venture out to the new opportunities that await you.

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