“Who moved my cheese?” is a motivational book on the importance of adapting to changes in life. Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote the book and used a simple story to illustrate its central point.
The story revolves around two mice and two humans searching for cheese in a maze daily to feed themselves. Here, “cheese” refers to the goals human beings want to achieve. The winding paths of the maze denote the uneven paths people traverse in life to achieve their goals or fulfill their wants.
Both pairs found a large supply of their desired variety of cheese at a particular place in the maze and began to enjoy themselves. However, while the mice enjoyed the cheese cautiously and remained vigilant and ready to move in case the cheese ran out, the humans got too comfortable and began to think the supply of cheese would feed them forever. So, one day, when both pairs suddenly found that the cheese had run out, the mice instantly began looking for it elsewhere in the maze. On the other hand, the humans complained about it and remained in denial about the change in their situation.
Over time, with consistent effort, the mice found another large supply of cheese at a different location while the humans disputed about their next move. One wanted to keep looking for cheese at the same place, while the other wanted to start looking elsewhere. Finally, the latter plucked up the courage to make a move and set out to find a new supply of cheese. On his journey to find cheese, he had certain realizations, which are the key takeaways from this book.
The most crucial lesson in this book is that change is an unavoidable part of life, so we must accept it and learn to adapt to it. Oftentimes, when change occurs, those who are not prepared for it become paralyzed with fear and don’t know how to respond. Since change is unavoidable, we should be prepared for it so that we can adapt quickly when it happens. Being flexible to change helps us be resilient and progress in life.
Sometimes change leads to analysis paralysis, which means that we over-analyze the situation and it prevents us from moving forward. This was the case of the human who did not want to venture out to find more cheese. Instead of overthinking a particular situation, we should overcome our fear and embrace new opportunities. If we remain within our comfort zones and refuse to venture out, we will never grow.
Another important lesson from this book is the need to take responsibility for our choices, illustrated by the human who decided to leave his friend (who did not want to move) in search of new cheese. Ultimately, through his perseverance, he was able to find new cheese, which was better in quality and bigger in quantity. This shows that changes can push people toward greater success.
Lastly, this book encourages the sharing of wisdom with others who are struggling to adapt to change. The human who ventured out wrote his realizations on the maze’s wall, hoping that his friend would finally start looking for cheese within the maze and be guided by the lessons on the wall.
Overall, this book stresses the need for a positive attitude and proactive mindset when dealing with uncertainties in life.