Who Moved My Cheese?

By Tracy Faust

As I write this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many things going through my mind. How will businesses survive? Do I need to change my processes? What will the next 6 months bring for businesses and our health? I don’t know the answers to most of these questions, but I recently read a book that has opened my eyes and thoughts.

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. It is about 2 mice, Sniff and Scurry, and 2 “Littlepeople” – beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people. Their names are Hem and Haw. “Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want to have in life—whether it is a good job, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind.

The “Maze” is where you look for what you want--- the organization you work in, your family, or community you live in. In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully and writes what he has learned from his experience on the Maze walls.

The setting is in the maze. Sniff and Scurry are being normal mice and are frantically searching for the cheese. They finally find it and kick back to enjoy life. Hem and Haw also find the cheese and also kick back to enjoy life. However, Hem and Haw are so busy living high on the hog, they don’t see the cheese is diminishing. After all the cheese is gone, Hem and Haw are dumbfounded and don’t know what to do. Now they are afraid.

Sniff and Scurry, being mice, analyze the situation and start through the Maze in search of more cheese. Yes, they run into dead ends, but they don’t give up. They keep searching to find more cheese. Hem and Haw on the other hand were afraid to leave their comfort spot even though they don’t have any cheese. Even though Haw was afraid, he faced his fears and went in search of more cheese. He knew he had to find something to eat or he would die. As he was going through the Maze, Haw started to write on the walls for himself words of encouragement as well as to encourage Hem should he decide to change his mind and venture out. Haw wrote in the wall “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct.”

Had Haw taken the time to see what was happening right under his nose, he would have seen the cheese was getting low and he would need to change his way of living. Even though Haw was scared of change, he eventually realized he should have changed earlier. He was afraid of change and had been held captive by his own fear. Moving in a new direction had freed him. “When You Stop Being Afraid, You Feel Good!”

Haw went back to find Hem and encouraged him to come find the new cheese. Hem refused to go. As Haw went back to searching for the New Cheese he continued to write on the wall words of encouragement for Hem, should he venture out. “The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Find New Cheese.” “Old Beliefs Do Not Lead You to New Cheese.” Eventually Haw found Sniff and Scurry and the New Cheese. The cheese was bigger and better. Haw stepped back and reflected on what he had learned. He realized that when he had been afraid to change he had been holding on to the illusion of Old Cheese which was no longer there.

When you allow yourself to see “The Handwriting on the Wall” you can discover for yourself how to deal with change, so you can enjoy less stress and more success in your work and in your life. Currently, there is so much change and stress in the world. Everyone must be willing to change in these uncertain times and find their new cheese.

Tracy Faust | Supervisor