Who Moved My Cheese?

I was helping a friend of mine move the other day. As I rummaged through a storage locker that more closely resembled ancient ruins rather than a pack job, I came across a dusty version of the book Who Moved My Cheese. As you might know, change is something that is central to my coaching and the basis for my own book (The Six Dimensions of C.H.A.N.G.E.) so it was fitting that I run across this book once again. The foundation of this book is two fold. First, the inherent fear that a lot of people feel when it comes to change in their life or in business. The second being simply how we handle that fear. When we think about it, choosing to be an entrepreneur is literally choosing change versus monotony. A business examined in its most basic components is simply a series of moving pieces; a change management system if you will. Considering so many people fear change it is ironic so many people start their own business. It could be that right now you're asking yourself that very question, "why did I do this again?" Let me remind you. You did it because although it might be tough, you want a chance to control your destiny, you want a chance to create something new, and deep down, you need to be challenged. So instead of worrying about change, let's accept that it's part of life, and talk about how to make it work in our favor.

Who Moved My Cheese is a great parable told through the eyes of four mice in a maze. Before you disregard this story as a simple children's story, realize that it is the simplicity of the truth told by this story that really captures the attention of adults. The four mice have found a great place in the maze with a great supply of cheese and while they both live and enjoy the cheese their vision for the future is quite different. One set of mice, Hem and Haw, are living high on the hog. They eat their cheese, they relax, and they literally set up camp in this corner of the maze expecting to live the good life forever. The other set of mice, Sniff and Scurry, are quite different. While they are also enjoying the cheese, they are far from complacent. Sniff is always trying to sniff out new opportunities and Scurry always has his running shoes ready in case he needs to go chase that opportunity. All four mice were enjoying the success of finding this great pile of cheese but Sniff and Scurry realized something; change was happening and they needed to be prepared to act when the time came. They realized that the pile was dwindling over time and instead of denying and fearing the change like Hem and Haw, they were actively looking for their next pile of cheese.

You can imagine how the story ends. One set of mice finally realized their pile was gone yet continued their "hemming and hawing" about the fact that life wasn't was it used be. They took no action and paid the consequences. The other set of mice saw the writing on the wall and were proactive about finding their next pile of cheese. They not only accepted change they embraced it and sure enough they ended up finding the largest pile of cheese they had ever seen. A pile so big it would last forever. I remember reading this and smiling at how impactful a mouse story could be. Our businesses are that maze. There are abundant piles of cheese hidden in every corner of our business, we just have to be willing to sniff and scurry to find them.