Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved my Cheese allegory was first published in 1998 but is no less poignant today than it was 18 years ago, perhaps more so. It’s the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two humans (Hem and Haw) who live in a maze and one day are faced with change: someone moves their cheese. Reactions vary from quick adjustment to waiting for the situation to change by itself to suit their needs.
I’ve been reflecting on the recent changes in our world–government administration, political discourse, job availability, climate, globalization, industries, organizations, family dynamics, you-name-it. With all of the uncertainty that surrounds us, only one thing is sure: that change will occur. The question is, how will we deal with it? Will we look the other way or deny it’s happening like Hem and Haw? Will we anticipate and plan for it, like Sniff and Scurry?
No matter who you supported during the 2016 campaign season, the change of administration has everyone feeling uncertain. With many Hillary supporters still in shock by the election results; and Trump supporters miffed about broken promises and priorities, I just reread Dr. Johnson’s story (the full text is available online) to look for some pearls of wisdom for our current challenges and was reminded:
- Change can surprise you only if you don’t expect it
- Don’t let fear stop you from trying something new
- Imagine what success will look like
Given that we may be living with uncertainty and change for some time, we must check our attitudes toward change and explore how we can reframe it as a positive experience. Embracing the “Cheese Philosophy,” we must anticipate change, let go of the old, and fearlessly kick into action–in our personal lives, our jobs, and our communities.
If you want a Cheese Philosophy reminder, try keeping a squeezable Cheese Wedge or Cheese and Mice Fidget Toy at your desk! You might also want to read the story yourself and have a book group discussion about the most important changes in your life and how you can take action.