For the July 2020 edition of the Indie Business Book Club, we read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD. This quick read packs a powerful punch, providing you with the perfect reminder of your personal power as we move through the challenges of COVID-19. It's delivered in the form of a fable in which four mice who find that the cheese they are used to enjoying every day at “Cheese Station C” has suddenly disappeared.
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Four mice arise each morning, and enter the maze headed to Cheese Station C, where they enjoy an abundance of cheese.
One day, they arrive at Cheese Station C to discover that the cheese has been removed. It's gone.
Two of the mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry,” quickly assess the situation, and head back into the maze in search of new cheese. They eventually arrive at Cheese Station N. They settle in and enjoy their new cheese.
The other two mice, “Hem” and “Haw” simply hem and haw, as you might expect. They begin wringing their hands and whining and fussing and complaining about how unfair it is that their cheese is gone. Each morning, they awaken as they have always done, head into the maze, and arrive at Cheese Station C where they expect that someone will have replaced their cheese.
Of course, that never happens.
Eventually, Hem decides that expecting someone else to replace his cheese is useless. Like Sniff and Scurry before him, he finally heads back into the maze in search of new cheese.
Hem tries to convince Haw to come with him, but Haw refuses.
During his travels through the maze, Hem constantly thinks of Haw. He leaves notes along the walls of the maze as he searches for cheese so that Haw will be encouraged if he ever decides to set out looking for new cheese.
Eventually, Hem finds Cheese Station N, where he enjoys new cheese.
The author does not reveal what ever happened to Haw, but the sad presumption is that he dies waiting for someone to put back his cheese.
Highlights from Who Moved My Cheese?
To encourage Haw, Hem leaves notes along the walls of the maze as he searches for new cheese. Here are a few of the highlights.
Highlight No. 1: Change happens.
Change is inevitable. Unless you realize and accept this as a constant fact of life (and business), you are setting yourself up to be frustrated and angry when a change is forced upon you. It is very difficult to be proactive when you are not poised in your mind for change.
Personal application: With the onset of COVID-19, your cheese was moved. It's unlikely that you expected that the change that caused your cheese to move would be a pandemic, but that's not the point. The point is to ready your mind to always be ready for change, and not to be surprised by it. In this way, you're move likely to be proactive like Sniff and Scurry — assessing the situation and moving on quickly to find new cheese.
Highlight No. 2: Check the wind.
Unlike Hem and Haw, Sniff and Scurry had a “know which way the wind is blowing” mindset. That is, they kept an open mind about their situations. Knowing that change is inevitable, they never became so comfortable that they could not adjust quickly and, to some extent, even anticipate the future.
Personal application: With the onset of COVID-19, you saw an immediate shift from physical to virtual interactions and commerce. During the shutdown, people relying on a wholesale business model quickly shifted to an online e-commerce model, or quickly sought out new wholesale accounts that leveraged local delivery and curbside pickup options. People who were planning a physical conference quickly worked with venues to postpone their events or better yet, leveraged the power of virtual conferencing to host their events and avoid loss of momentum.
Highlight No. 3: Savor change.
While consistency in life is good, change is also good. Change keeps you from becoming complacent and comfortable. It forces you to stay creative and innovative. Change is a powerful reminder of Darwin's conclusion that the fittest and most adaptable creatures will outlast the once who refuse to adapt.
Personal application: If you are always looking for someone to make things the way that have always been, you'll miss out on the opportunity to create something new — for yourself, your family, your clients and customers, and your community. Learn to savor change, for it is the precursor to amazing new things.
Who should read Who Moved My Cheese?
If you struggle to adapt to change, Who Moved My Cheese is a perfect book for you. It will help you to resist complacency. It will remind you that change happens for you, and not to you. And we all need to be reminded of that from time to time.
Buy Who Moved My Cheese
Feedback and Share
Did you read along with us? What do you think of this book? Do you have a tendency to be more like Sniff and Scurry or Hem and Haw? How has this fable helped you to expand your ideas about the power of forced change to empower you to create opportunities that may never have crossed your mind but for the change? Please share your comments and feedback below.