The story “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. Based on the four characters Scurry, Sniff, Hem, and haw, the theme of change and how different people react to it clearly stands out. Some people anticipate change and as a result, they know what to do. Others become devastated when adjustments occur in their lives. Consequently, they are negatively affected as they are incapable to move on. On the other hand, some individuals take longer than others to adapt to change when I consider the story highly relatable with my personal situation especially in the context of my school life, my endeavors towards success and a good career as well as family life. I would say that the story had a great impact on my attitude towards life. I also learned many lessons including the need to get out of my comfort zone, anticipate, monitor, and adapt to change when it comes, let go of the fears, and move on to reap the benefits of transformation. I intend to apply these lessons to improve my life and position myself for success.
A brief summary of “Who Moved My Cheese”
The story begins when former high school classmates reunited in Chicago over lunch to catch up with what was going on into each other lives. As they ate their lunch, their discussion became an interesting topic about change in their careers, relationships, and family life. One of the friends alludes that change is no longer a concern to him as now knows how to deal with it after reading the story titled “Who Moved My Cheese.” As he declares, “And like me, many people said it helped them in their personal lives” (Johnson 5). The other members become curious to hear the story to see whether they can learn something from it. It is through this artful manner that the reader is introduced to the tale which reveals reflective facts about change.
In the tale, four main characters are living in the maze whereby they are looking for cheese to sustain their lives. Sniff and Scurry are mice gifted in smelling and quickly changing with regards to change respectively. The other two creatures are Hem and Haw who are little like the mice but they behave a lot more like humans since they have complex brains, are full of beliefs and emotions. The “cheese” being hunted in the story represents the various things that people seek in life, such as good careers, relationships, money, and property, among others. As for the “maze”, it is a metaphor for the places where people look for the “cheese,” such as at work, school, or in the community. On the other hand, the four characters symbolize our simple and complex personalities. While in the maze, Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw encounter challenges as they try to find their favorite cheese to make them happy. Eventually, each one of them found the cheese they were looking for at station C. While Hem and Haw become increasingly comfortable with their current situation, thinking that the cheese would last forever, Sniff and Scurry keep on inspecting the store and had noticed that the cheese was reducing.
One day, the cheese was gone but Sniff and Scurry quickly adapted by heading to the maze in search of new cheese. They were not surprised that the cheese was gone as they had all along anticipated the change. On the contrary, Hem and Haw were shocked as they had not been paying attention to the changes on the cheese. They thought that someone else had moved the cheese and they remained at the station hoping that it would return but it never did. At last, Haw decided to go into the maze to search for new cheese after realizing that the old one would not return. After a long struggle, Haw found new cheese, joining Sniff and Scurry, and feeling happy.
How the story relates to my personal situation
Generally, the tale “Who Moved My Cheese” is relatable in my life as it is all about change and how people adapt to it when it comes. Most of all, it is relevant to my school life. As of now, I view the “maze” as the school I study in. I am studying so that I can have an amazing career and secure a good paying job. Therefore, the need to have a great career and having a financially stable job is the “cheese” that I am looking for. A lot of changes occur when we are learning. Something might happen and one is no longer able to pay their tuition fee and as a result, they have to drop out of school while others defer and others seek part-time jobs.
For me, one of the most significant changes I have experienced is in my academic performance. I have always worked hard and performed well in most of my exams. However, I did not perform as I expected to during the last semester. The problem was that I did not anticipate the change and somehow, I can say that I was in my comfort zone. Just as Hem and Haw had thought that the cheese would be there forever, I was also in a similar situation. In the story, the author indicates that the success of finding cheese had made Hem and Haw confident and arrogant. More so, “Soon they became so comfortable they didn’t even notice what was happening” (Johnson 8). I supposed that as long as I was performing well, the situation would not change. All I had to do is attend all the classes and pay attention to the teachers as I did all the time. I never considered most of my classmates whom I have always defeated and others who always miss classes as potential competitors. Besides, I never thought that the exam would be hard, which would prompt me to study harder. What is more, I was okay with my current position; I did not seek to outshine those who always performed better than me.
In the short story, Sniff and Scurry used to go to the cheese station C early in the morning each day, “inspecting the area to see if there had been any changes from the day before” ( 8). Perhaps, if I had been cautious like Sniff and Scurry, I would not have performed poorly in my exams. Instead of relaxing and being comfortable, I would have bared in mind that other students were spending sleepless nights reading so that they can improve on their academics. Performing well in the exams means a lot to me since I know that I can easily secure a job unlike when I fail.
Even though I did not think that I would not maintain my position during the last semester’s exams, I was not stuck there Hem and Haw not knowing what to do when the cheese was gone. Instead, I quickly adapted to the change like Sniff and scurry. When the cheese at station C disappeared, Sniff and Scurry also decided to adjust. Instead of over-scrutinizing things, “They were quickly off in search of new cheese” (Johnson 10). Similarly, after a drop in my performance, I began going to the library more often, engaging in group discussions, and studying late at night. By doing so, I was searching for my “new cheese” which in this case is to improve on my academic performance in the next exams.
Despite my endeavors to perform well in school, I would say that I encounter multiple challenges that drug me behind. I relate these obstacles mostly to the character named Hem in the tale “Who Moved My Cheese.” I will admit that even though many people are often unprepared for change, some of us become surprised but are willing to move on to find new cheese with time. In other words, some people take time to accept that change has occurred and that by remaining in the same situation, things will only get worse. Haw realized that the old cheese was not going to return, he suggested to Hem that they should handle the situation in a different manner by going out into the maze to search for new cheese. Nevertheless, Hem discouraged him by saying the disappearance of the cheese at station C was someone else’s doing and that he would get to the bottom of it. (12). Clearly, Haw wanted to move on but Hem was dragging him behind. Similarly, I have been in a situation where I think that some people have hindered me from achieving what I want. My friends, for instance, I would say, are responsible for my performance during last semester’s exams. I think that they highly influenced me a lot to go out during the weekends whenever I would suggest that I want to read. I think that if I had not listened to them, I would perform as I always did.
The impact of “Who Moved My Cheese” on my attitude towards life
The story “who moved My Cheese” was inspirational and it highly changed my attitude in life. It gave me a complete view about change and how to cope with it. To start with I have come to embrace change. After reading the book, I discover that change does not often lead Given that we always have negative consequences. Unaware of what change holds for us in the future, I have on multiple occasions found myself thinking that if I adopt different ways of doing things which am not used to or have not seen with other people, I might end up regretting. However, this is far from the truth since Haw reaped the benefits of letting go of the fears he had when he took the initiative of going into the maze in search of new cheese. He had been afraid that “there may be not any cheese in the maze or he may not find it” (16). From this scenario, I have realized that when you let go of your fears, you will be able to consider change, as uncertain as it is, as something that will lead you into achieving what you want. After all, Haw had realized that what people fear is not usually as bad as they think (21). As such, I said to myself that whenever change comes, I will never retract from doing what I feel will make my life better.
Besides, the story changed my opinion about fate. I have been a strong believer that people have different destinies. This is mainly because I have observed people try to do something and worked hard towards it but they never achieve it. On the other hand, other people do not struggle to do something they want but it just works out. I also believe in fate as I also have personal experience. For instance, I have on multiple occasions tried to start a restaurant in my home town but it has never picked up. It always shut down after 3 months. On the other hand, my cousin who is younger than me began a clothing line and it picked within the first month. This made me believe that I am not destined to be an entrepreneur and that I should find my purpose in life elsewhere. However, upon reading “Who Moved My Cheese,” I now understand that determination and hard work in addition to anticipating change makes you find your “Cheese” at the end of the day. This is justifiable in the way Haw let go of his fears and searched throughout the maze’s corridors which were dangerous over and over until he found the new cheese. It was not Hem’s destiny that he should not find what he wanted but a matter of having the will and putting efforts towards finding it.
How to use the lessons learned to transform myself and position myself for success
One of the main lessons I have learned from the story “Who Moved My Cheese” is that change always occurs and therefore, it is good to anticipate for it. Just as there was no change in the first place before all the four characters started to look for the cheese in the maze, it also seems natural that the cheese would disappear someday. If Sniff and Scurry had not expected change, they would have been in the same dilemma as Hem and Haw when they discovered that the cheese was no more. This lesson has taught me that change is inevitable and that it is not advisable to stay intact in our comfort zones. No matter how good or satisfied I might be at the moment, it is important to imagine a situation where things adjust and everything I had is gone. In such a situation, I will be able to prepare for the worst so that when the change really happens, I can have alternatives that will help me to survive. Having this in mind will prepare me for success in life.
For instance, by imagining that a tragedy happens and I am no longer able to pay for my school fees, it will help me to start networking with prospective employers so that I can secure a job and through that, I will be able to complete my education. Also, by anticipating change, I am aware that things do not always turn out as we always think. As such, I know that after completing school, I may not immediately land my dream job. However, this cannot stop me from being successful as I can always start my own business and struggle with it. At the end of the day, I will reap the benefits of hard work.
Another important lesson I learned from the tale is that it is important to monitor change. As Haw had noted, “smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old” (17). Throughout the maze, Sniff and Scurry were inspecting the cheese station C and they had noticed that it was reducing. It was obvious that it would eventually be depleted since it was not growing. However, Hem and Haw were blinded by the fulfillment they were getting from the cheese and failed to see the changes in the mass of the cheese. I intend to use this lesson in all aspects of my life. I will make sure that I am receptive to the environment I live in be it at school or at home. As a result, I will be able to observe and notice even the slightest changes that occur around me. For instance, if I had paid attention during the past semester, I would have realized that some of my classmates who outshined be had become more committed and were not skipping classes as they used to. That way, I would also have put more efforts in my studies and I would not have performed poorly. Being conscious of the adjustments taking place around us enables us to not only be updated but they can also lead us to our success. For instance, by being keen on what occurs around me, I will be able to know the technological advancements which I can use to venture into business or even to improve my education. This will make me successful as being financially stable is one of my primary goals in life.
Most importantly, I learned that it is crucial to adapt to change quickly. When the old cheese was over, Sniff and Scurry “both looked out into the maze” without wasting time (8). Later, Haw found out that letting go of the old cheese quickly enabled him to enjoy the new cheese soonest. It does not help to hold on to the change which has already taken place but it helps to act immediately. I will use this lesson to ensure that I always respond to change immediately since remaining in the same position will not assist me in moving on and I will not enjoy the new cheese or I might not find it at all. Nevertheless, I have to be quick to let go of old beliefs and mentalities.
Overall, the short tale “Who Moved My Cheese” is relevant to my life, especially in my academic life. My school is my correct maze while performing well in exams, pursuing my career and finding a new job is a cheese which I am mainly looking for. The story gave me another perception of people’s destinies. I realized that working hard and determination can make you acquire what you want in life and there is nothing like fate. I also learned a wide range of lessons including the importance of anticipating change, monitoring it, and quickly adapting to it. I intend to use these lessons by making sure that I am aware of what is happening around me, embracing adjustments, and being prepared.
Johnson, Spencer. Who moved my cheese. Random House, 2015. Pp 1-38.