Authored by Siddharth Rao
” Be the right animal, true to your animal instincts.” – D.H. Lawrence Who Moved My Cheese? the bestseller by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is a small book (94 pages with wide margins).
Though I am not an avid book reader during the lockdown, I read this book with a great push.
I opened Who Moved My Cheese? With prejudices and yet it won me over. It is essentially a child’s story that says something about human nature, happiness, and change.
The story itself is simple. Once, long ago and far away, there lived four little characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese. Two Sniff and Scurry were mice. The other two Hem and Haw were little people. Each eventually found his favorite type of cheese at the end of Cheese Station C. When the cheese supply ran out, Sniff and Scurry went right into action looking for new cheese because they had never abandoned their animal instincts. Hem and Haw, in contrast, waited around at Station C, complaining about their bad luck.
Sniff and Scurry finally found new cheese, but Hem and Haw stayed in Station C hoping something would change. Eventually, Haw realized how ridiculous his behavior had been and left Hem alone to search for new cheese. For a long while, he had no success. Nevertheless, then one day, when he had wandered far into an unfamiliar part of the maze, he came upon new cheese again.
It will cost you 199 rupees and take you about an hour to read ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’.
It is probably worth the investment because there is a chance that during that time, you will think about your relationship to change, and that might change you.
Like any good fable, Who Moved My Cheese? can be read in many ways.
On one level, its a story about the welfare state how reliance on the government makes people lazy and helpless. On another level, it is about the need to accept change. On still another, its a fable about process vs ends.
However, when I read it; one idea stood out:
To be successful in life, you have to keep moving. That is not a very popular idea. Most people want to do as little moving as possible. They show up for work and then well, not much happens. It’s as if they think life is a contest and one who gets away with doing the least, wins.
I remember after class X board exams when my mom asked me and my friend to do an internship in a warehouse. I was way up near the ceiling, crawling around on the third level of a large steel shelving structure that packed with boxes of, I do not know what. I was looking for something. I removed one box to look behind it and discovered an interior path, illuminated somehow. I followed it around, and it opened into a sort of anteroom made out of boxes with box-chairs and a box-table on which a pack of cards sat. Beyond the entrance were music and the source of the light I had been following. I crawled through to find my ex-classmate Rohan lying on a box, drinking a Coke, and listening to I pod.
Rohan! I said. What the hell is this place?
Its where I spend my time, he said.
Aren’t you afraid someone’s going to catch you?
Hell, no! He said. I am not the only body be resting up here.
As it turned out, Rohan’s place was a clandestine boxed country club, not only for Rohan (and now for me) but also another intern and the two warehouse managers who could have put an end to it.
Nobody wants to work all day long, Rohan explained.
For the rest of that summer holiday, Rohan was a God to me. Everything he did (or did not do), I will emulate. Every word he spoke, I took as Bhagwat Gita versus However, somewhere along the way, I noticed something the days were dragging by. Moreover, I never found the peace of mind Rohan had in such abundance.
I think life gives us two choices. We can get through it doing as little as possible. Alternatively, we can work hard and try to build something.
I never had the frame of mind to do it Rohan’s way. Not working was just too hard for me. However, I never forgot how graceful Rohan’s slothfulness seemed. It seemed a more advanced form of being.
Who Moved My Cheese? Does not allow for the Rohan in you. It speculates a world where success and happiness are the byproducts of work. Moreover, that is fine; because that is the world we have chosen to live. When it comes to making money, building business, and creating wealth, prosperity, and value, nothing works like work.
Who Moved My Cheese? Reminds us that we cannot stop moving. That we must always be pushing, always be trying new things, and still be ready to change.
Students who do not make a move fail. Think of yourself as a shark. If you stop going forward, you die. However, so many people find a limited amount of success and then stop. You can see it almost anywhere you look.
I know a restaurant that has a good location but serves mediocre food. It is making a modest profit, so the owner assumes things will get better in the future. However, things get worse. It’s the market, the owner thinks, a temporary slowdown that we cannot avoid. I will sit and wait.
Something I promised to myself.
Do not be satisfied with your present state. However useful it is, there is some way to make it better.
Consult with experts. Examine it yourself and find some way to improve it. Moreover, when done, could you do it again?
Expect change. Welcome, change. Do not ever stop changing.
Here is what Spencer Johnson, Ph.D., has to say about finding new cheese:
1. Smell the cheese often, so you know when it is getting old.
2. When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.
3. The quicker you let go of the aged cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.
4. It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation.
5. Move with the cheese and enjoy it.