In less than 100 pages, you will disinter a wonderful simple little parable. This book has been a best seller for a long time. Originally published in 1998, it is written by Spencer Johnson.
The story in this book has 4 characters only. Sniff and Scurry are names given to the 2 mice, Hem and Haw are 2 humans who are of the size of mice. All of them enter a maze in search of cheese, every single day. Sniff and Scurry use their instincts to find cheese while Hem and Haw use their human brain power. They all arrive at ‘Cheese Station C’ and to their delight, they find a huge pile of cheese!
Being less attentive than the mice, Hem and Haw face a setback when one day they discover that all their cheese has vanished. The mice on the other hand were carefully observing the gradual diminution of the cheese and were prepared for this to happen. They left in search of new cheese as soon as they found out what had happened. Hem and Haw couldn’t take this bitter taste of reality down their throat. After a while though, Haw suggests Hem to go find some new cheese and Hem refrains from doing so as he wants to dig deep into what happened and get the answer to the question raging in his mind – ‘WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?’
Haw gets stuck with the same mentality because of Hem. However, he realises that dwelling on the problem is not taking a step towards the solution. Haw leaves Hem alone and goes back into the maze to find new cheese. The mice, meanwhile have already found the biggest pile of cheese they have ever seen in the maze at ‘Cheese station N’. Slowly but steadily, facing all the obstacles that come in his path Haw reaches there too. He is thankful and happy about the decision he took and has a thought about Hem’s bad decision as he had even gone back to ‘Cheese station C’ to inform Hem that going outside in the maze to search for new cheese isn’t really as bad as he thinks it is.
Through out the book, the author highlights his ‘key messages’ to the readers in the form of thoughts that Haw writes on the walls of the maze. They are as follows:
- If you do not change, you become extinct.
- What would you do if you were not afraid?
- Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old!
- When you move beyond your fear, you feel free!
- Imagining myself enjoying new cheese even before I find it, leads me to it.
- The quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.
- It’s safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheese-less situation.
- Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.
- When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.
- Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.
Towards the end, the book lists the learnings of Haw as below:
- Change happens, they keep moving the cheese.
- Anticipate change, get ready for the cheese to move.
- Adapt to change quickly, the quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you enjoy new cheese.
- Change, move with the cheese.
- Enjoy change, savour the adventure and enjoy the taste of the new cheese.
- Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again. They keep moving the cheese.