How to Avoid Becoming Demoralised by Change

Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

It’s an anecdotal story about change management and how the way you think about the things that happen to you either enable or disable you from progressing in your life.

There are 4 characters:

Two Mice:
Sniff: who sniffs our new opportunities
Scurry: who searches as fast as he can

Two little people:
Hem: who can’t deal with change
Haw: who eventually realises it is inevitable

All four are in a maze searching for cheese. The mice are unsentimental about where they find it and are always ready to move on should their source of nourishment disappear. They keep their running shoes close even when they arrive upon a huge store of cheese; cognisant of the fact they will have to move on when it disappears.

The other two elucidate the problem with the human condition, that our intelligence and thoughts can be paralysing. Where the mice are driven by natural instinct and unconcerned by the thought of having to move on the two humans are debilitated when the cheese disappear.

They allow themselves to get upset, then angry, then weak. Instead of pursuing fresh opportunities they become scared of searching the same maze they had previously searched unmercifully for cheese.

They began to view the cheese in the store they had found as there’s and convinced themselves that no other cheese would be good enough. They had even failed to notice in fact that ‘their’ cheese has been deteriorating in quality before they ran out, but they ate it anyway because they thought there was nothing better out there or they were too scared to check.

So they waited. They assumed their cheese would be replenished eventually. The cheese had to have appeared from somewhere so it stands to reasons that whatever put it there in the first place would have to put it there again, right?

But it doesn’t and they become incredibly weak.

In the mean time Sniff and Scurry are exploring the maze in search of their new cheese. They aren’t sentimental nor do they reminisce about cheese of the past. Of course they still remember the great tastes of where they have been but they relentlessly pursue fresh nourishment, new cheese and a different way to feel content.

Haw finally realises what he should of noticed long ago, nothing is going to save them if they won’t save themselves. Times change and you can either accept the things that happen to you or you can become the change.

He pleads for Hem to join him but he becomes defensive and suspicious of Haw’s intentions.

Finally the mice arrive upon a new station filled with even more cheese than the last which Hem and Haw still wait in. As far and high as the eye can see they see cheese, of every flavour and colour. Crucially, again, they take off their running shoes and tie them round there necks. They realise that although they will be satisfied here for a long time, they will remain agile and nimble, ready to move on to something new at a moments notice.

Haw eventually sees the errors of his ways and does something remarkable. He laughs at himself and by doing so he alleviates some of the fear he has been experiencing. He feels sorry for Hem and realise that nothing he will do will convince him to join him on his search, that he must realise on his own or he wont at all. He wishes his friend good bye and sets off on his journey.

And its never plain sailing. The road is cold and lonely and he doesn’t stumble upon any new cheese for a long time. Almost every day he considers turning back and returning to what he knows even though he knows it’s not good for him. But he doesn’t and he marches on.

Eventually he stumbles upon a few crumbs, then some more, enough to last a while. So he decides to make one more plea to help Hem. He return to the cheese store Hem remains in and pleads him to join him but he refuses even though Haw assures him hope lies ahead.

Haw pities Hem and realises some people never change and eventually you need to tear yourself free of their grasp or sentence yourself to unhappiness for a lifetime.

Finally he arrives at the store that Scurry and Sniff have enjoyed. He gives them a friendly nod and begins enjoying the fruits of his search. But he alters his actions from previously. Instead of getting comfortable he copies the mice and ties his running shoes around his neck always ready to make his next move.

But he does more still. Instead of resting on his laurels and assuming the cheese in the store will last forever, he remains vigilant. He keep searching and makes sure to know where he may find his next cheese should the need to move on present itself.

The lessons to learn can be summarised as per the below.

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese

Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move

Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

Change
Move With The Cheese

Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Finally, Haw returns to the full store after a hard day on the road, happy in his evolution and the progress of his mindset.

He’s left notes on the walls of the maze for Hem to follow should he change his mind. As he reaches the door, he hears a noise behind him.

Is it Hem? We never know.

But it gives us hope that perhaps everyone can change.

And asks the question of which one are you?

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