Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese? discussion and interpretation

This week as part of the Book-A-Week Challenge, I read Who Moved My Cheese? No offense, but this would not be a story I did not pick up voluntarily, but was a book one of the writers in my group gave me and insisted I read several months ago.

I honestly had thought I had no need to read such a book. I mean, for those of you who do not know me very well, I am an agent of change, a woman who takes the bull by the horns and head-butts him right between the eyes.

Most the time.

Before I tell you too much, let me give you a quick synopsis or my take on this short story. Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about change and how we do and/or can/should deal with it. The author, Spencer Johnson, M.D., uses the tale of two mice named Sniff and Scurry along with two tiny people named Hem and Haw in a maze searching for their cheese. The author uses the analogy of ‘rats in a maze’ as a way of demonstrating the various ways people (you and me) deal with change and our search for what we want.

Like you can’t tell by the names of the characters what their personalities are going to be and how we handle change and fear.

In a nutshell, it comes down to this:

• Change happens (sometimes you expect it and sometimes you don’t)
• Anticipate change (learning to anticipate change makes it easier and quicker to deal with it)
• Adapt to change quickly (since it is bound to happen, the sooner you adjust, the better off you will be)
• Change (you yourself may need to change)
• Enjoy change (be flexible, go with it, and take that bull by the horns and laugh at it)

Here is the key question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

You see, it is that fear of change, the unknown that holds us in place, stagnate, a place where we no longer belong.

Example: Let’s say you want to be a published author. One day you wake up and light dawns on that marble head of yours and you say, “I want to be a writer.”

What questions immediately jump into your head?

Unfortunately, the first questions are usually the negative ones. “What if I fail?” “What if no one likes my work?” Or, you don’t even ask the negative, you jump right into the, “There’s no way I can be an author, it’s just a pipe dream.”
Instead, you should ask, “What will I need to succeed?” Or better yet, “Will this endeavor make me happy?”

Biggest Mistake: We don’t notice the need for change when something once worked.

Just because something once worked does not mean that it will continue to be successful. Keep in mind all the businesses that have gone out of business or dropped off your radar because they refused to move with technology. Today we are experiencing this by the truckloads. Look at all the print publishing organizations.

Newspapers, magazines, book publishers, are going down the tubes because they did not want to admit that they had to change. Obviously that is not the reason for all the recent failures, but I would guess it is for the majority.

If we remember that change happens, that it is inevitable, then we can be flexible and aware enough to embrace change when we see the writing on the wall and hopefully before.

In Relationships: Let go of behavior that is the cause of the bad relationship.

This is where you have to get that giant mirror, open your eyes wide, take a good look at yourself and decide what you contribute to a poor relationship. If you say nothing, go get one of those carnival mirrors and try again.

Sounds kind of hokey, but I personally can attest to this one. I’m an enabler, or I was. What that means is that I enable people to maintain their bad habits. How? By letting him/her continue the bad habit because I want them to be happy at the expense of my own happiness. My feelings were never as important as anyone else’s because the placid smoothness of a relationship was easier than fighting for what I wanted.

This is an extremely unhealthy way to live. I know.

The hard part of this was realizing that it was ‘my fault’. I would never, could never have a happy, healthy relationship until I recognized my behavior and changed it. You have to imagine a fiercely independent woman (this is how all my friends and relatives describe me) unable to go for what she wanted if it caused someone else to be dissatisfied.

Now that you know all of this, how do you go after your cheese? What is the next step?

The answer is simple or so it seems. Paint a picture of what you want in your mind and go for it.

Yes, there will be struggles. Yes, people (friends, family, even acquaintances) will doubt you, question you, even think you are nuts at various times. If you are lucky, there will be someone in your corner with those red and purple pom-poms cheering you on, but if you have the doubting-Thomases, do not give up. Ask yourself, “Are you doing this for them or you?”

Keep your eye on the prize or in this case the image in your head of what you will achieve.

I can even attest to this. Even as a kid I knew to visualize what I wanted, see it, play it out in my head, and BAM! There it was. Did it just happen? No. But because I saw it, wanted it, I made it happen.

Case in point, I am a published author. I wanted it. I found out what I needed to succeed, and went after it.

Ah, but remember, that cheese moves. Don’t sit back on your laurels and say, “Hey! I did what I set out to do and now I’m done.” Uh-uh! That’s when your goal/dream must shift, move. Don’t let someone else move your cheese. You move it!

My apologies if this was a little lengthy, but I wanted to share with you my take on Who Moved My Cheese? and that as skeptical as I was in reading the story, it did make me reflect on what I already knew and what I need to still do.

I encourage you to share your own experiences, thoughts, comments. And maybe, just maybe, I will share with you a very personal poem I wrote and amazingly was published that gives you the demonstration of how I moved my cheese.


Emma Leigh October 11, 2009 at 8:09 PM  

Very powerful blog. Hit me between the eyes very definitely.

I know personally sometimes I hold back in fear of change, in fear of the unknown. Got to take those chances though, especially as a writer.

Denise October 11, 2009 at 8:19 PM  

It's funny, but a couple of weeks ago I saw this documentary on Hershey and Famous Amos.

Fascinating because the thing I noted and got out of it was that these two men, when times were at their worst, took chances and succeeded.

It was almost as if they put themselves in a position that they had to succeed or die trying. That's how very little they started with.

Emma Leigh October 11, 2009 at 8:20 PM  

It's very true with writing too. You put yourself out there -- do or die. Or live in fear and never try.

Denise October 11, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

That is good. "Do or die. Or live and try."

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