To identify better with the context of the book, I would request you all to imagine yourself in a situation that you may have had a first time experience at, be it workplace, home or your social environment, a situation where things are changing. Now change could be gradual or it can be a massive change in your life and it is natural to be thrown away by this. And what Spencer Johnson tries to explain here, is the best way to cope with it. You may recollect how you reacted and rose out of the situation, if you feel jubilant, it’s great that you dealt with it well. If not, that disappointment you are feeling itself is the manifestation of the need of change management learning.
The good thing is, the way this learning is imparted in the book is not in a harangued manner. Instead the author chooses to write a fable and weaves in his teachings in the characters.
A group of friends reunite after a long time and one of them starts to narrate this story to others, the story revolves around 4 characters, 2 mice living in a maze (Scurry and Sniff) and 2 little-people, Hem and Haw. Now for all, cheese is the love of their life. Hem and Haw have a huge source of cheese and one day, they discover that their cheese is gone. Now, to go from all is well situation to this, where they are well, cheese-less, they are left shattered. “The More Important Your Cheese Is To You The More You Want To Hold On To It.” Now here, the writer intends to bring out the stark difference in the way people react to the same situation, while Hem and Haw mourn over their loss and choose to find their temporary peace in denial, the mice get over it and find new cheese. “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.” The point he is trying to make here is, that we in life, experience failed relationships, huge financial losses, lost jobs and what not, but to not acknowledge it and sink low in pessimism will not help you to come out of it.
As your mind follows the flipping pages, you realise that even when the mice begin, the journey doesn’t find them in the simplest position. And that tests one further, to keep your calm, judge the opportunity and react most positively in the most adverse situation is certainly not cheese-walk. Do you see what I did there? Ok, so moving on the mice get what they work to get and something happens with the little-men, but what is important is that the story really focuses on your attitude and response to a change. It says, “Sometimes, Hem, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.” Believe me, it is not only for Hem, it is for me, you and all of us because; change will never cease to exist, but those who don’t adapt to will. It might sound harsh, but we have heard of “Survival of the fittest right”? And to stay relevant is to stay fit in this world. If there are actors of the older generation still delivering well and making great movies, it is because, they were not devastated to see the drift in the process of film making and the developing choices of the audience. In fact, they chose to understand that and mold their strength into the present requirement. Wise choice I must say. To shy away from remodeling yourself is shying away from learning new things or getting afraid of the change and its uncertainty. “He knew sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid things are going to get worse if you don’t do something, it can prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are afraid that it keeps you from doing anything.”
It certainly doesn’t mean that the author wants you to do away with your uniqueness and quickly shed it away when the slightest sign of change appears, he only sends across the message the changes will happen and one must see without any fear the correct time and the opportunity to match it. “Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.” The change might not announce itself in blaring noises, be proactive and be ready when it comes as this different demand will seek a modified supply to suffice it. So, be brave and aware and informed of the world (ignorance is not bliss in this day and age) and embrace the change as it comes. Afterall, “It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheese-less situation”
Pl. read the book, Who moved my cheese, to understand this from the horse’s mouth.