Saturday, August 29, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese?... How to Think About Change...

The book of the week was Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson M.D. I had a hard time picking up this book because it is metaphor based and, generally, I like non-fiction. However, this book is used by Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Kodak, the Army and many other large organizations. It is used as a tool to shape the minds of the members and give a new perspective on the subject of "change."

The book's author was a co-author of the very popular book The One Minute Manager. His writing is very easy to follow and both books are very simple and short. Who Moved My Cheese is about two mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two "littlepeople" named Hem and Haw (littlepeople are basically people that are the same size as mice.) The four main characters are in a huge maze and their goal is to find the cheese in the maze. They all head out on the first day and after some searching they found their cheese station. Everyday they raced out to get to their cheese, but eventually Hem and Haw started going slower and slower, knowing the cheese was going to be at the station when they got there. Hem and Haw got comfortable with their cheese, always in the same spot everyday. Then one day it was gone. When that day came for Sniff and Scurry they weren't surprised, they just raced off to find the next area the cheese was going to be held. Hem and Haw on the other hand got mad. That cheese was "theirs" and it shouldn't have been taken away. Instead of adjusting to the change, they got angry and refused to move on. For days this went on... and while Hem and Haw were refusing to move on, Scurry and Sniff found a new cheese station which was filled with more cheese than they had ever seen. Soon enough Haw finally realizes that they had been foolish and he wanted to move on. Hem discouraged this and was afraid to move on, he said it was too dangerous to try something new. Haw left Hem and went out to search for new cheese. It took a long time, but Haw eventually caught up with Scurry and Sniff at the new cheese station. After realizing that he had been foolish at being angry about the cheese being taken away, it turned out to be a great thing to adjust to the change.

Throughout Haw's journey to find the new cheese station he wrote little sayings on the wall to keep him motivated. Here are the saying: Change Happens, Anticipate Change, Monitor Change, Adapt to Change Quickly, Change, Enjoy Change, and Be Ready to Change Quickly And Enjoy it Again and Again.

Now I basically outlined the whole book for you but it's still a great tool and there were a lot of details I glossed over. The point, however, is that you need to learn how to anticipate change. Again and again, people get too comfortable and they feel entitled to the lifestyle they have. Most people even make plans based off the current lifestyle and that's fine as long as you know that change can come fast and hard. Anticipate that! It can come in the form of getting laid-off, having to move your family because a relocation, or in the form of changing your job function all together. A helpful story by Kenneth Blanchard from the Introduction of the book helps illustrate this idea... There was a sportscaster named Charlie Jones and he said Who Moved My Cheese saved his life and career. Charlie had always worked hard and done a great job at broadcasting Track and Field at the Olympic Games. Then one day his boss told him he was being removed from showcasing these events and had been reassigned to Swimming and Diving. At first it affected everything Jones did. He was angry and frustrated and didn't think it was fair because he thought he was entitled to do Track and Field. After he heard the story of Who Moved My Cheese, Jones laughed... he realized he needed to change his attitude. He realized his boss simply "moved his cheese" and he adapted. He learned everything about swimming and diving and became the best sportscaster in the event. His new energy was noticed and he was assigned bigger and better assignments regularly and eventually Charlie Jones was inducted into the NFL's Hall of Fame - Broadcaster's Alley.

I think it is very important to anticipate and adapt to change. That is what makes the difference between being average and being GREAT... No matter what the change is in your life, stay focused and go out to get the next "cheese" that's waiting for you. Every time we adapt our lifestyle to change we get stronger and that experience guides us into a more successful version of ourselves. Grab a copy of this book, it is a very valuable metaphor. If you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

Amazon Link to Buy Who Moved My Cheese?

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