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I was introduced to Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, MD several years ago via a text from a friend. It said, “So, every day they went to Cheese Station C, found no cheese, and returned home, carrying their worries and frustrations with them.”
When I receive a random quote text, I immediately try to determine where it came from and how to learn more. The book is short and could easily be read in a few lunch breaks, but the message is significant and can be applied to all areas of life.
The story tells the tale of four characters. Two mice, Sniffy and Scurry, and two Little People, Hem and Haw. All four live in a maze where they must search the corridors, some with dark corners and blind alleys, to find their cheese. After finding nibbles here and there, they finally find a massive stash of glorious cheese in Cheese Station C. They believe it will last them a long time, but without any explanation, the cheese is gone one morning. We learn how each personality deals with the large stash of cheese and its sudden disappearance. And reading their dilemma makes us ponder how we have or would react in a similar situation.
The cheese in this story is both simple and complex, meaning you could apply the cheese metaphor to one or all areas of your life and examine all the ways you could react when the cheese is no longer available through the four characters who live in the maze.
This story doesn’t fully address the fact that there are two types of cheese. The kind that gets moved and the kind that gets old and stale. The first is easy to see; something changes, and decisions on how to react must be made.
The second is more challenging. It sneaks up on a person if it isn’t monitored regularly. It is the change that needs to happen because the cheese no longer nourishes you. This cheese is the hardest to spot and to walk away from because the cheese is still there. It is still edible and good enough, but it isn’t great. You don’t feel as good after eating it, and it never fills you up.
You must decide to stay and eat the same old stale cheese or leave for fresher varieties, which could mean a more fulfilling diet or no diet at all. It is hard to walk away from the known to venture into the unknown. The unknown is uncomfortable and scary. It is much easier to stay and eat the cheese that no longer fulfills us.
- What is your real-life cheese, and how has it moved?
- Which character is most like you when your cheese is moved?
- Which character is most like you when your cheese gets old and unfulfilling?
- How can you be like all the characters?
Get more discussion questions and journal prompts from Who Moved My Cheese here! These questions may contain spoilers.
This short, simple story will leave you thinking about how you react to change for days, maybe years. Are you proactive? Fast to react? Ponder your options, then decide to do something? Or stay where you are?