Book notes: Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese? book summary by Marlo Yonocruz

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Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Synopsis: “Most people are fearful of change, both personal and professional, because they don’t have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Dr. Spencer Johnson, the coauthor of the multimillion bestseller The One Minute Manager,ย uses a deceptively simple story to showย that when it comes to living in a rapidly changing world, what matters most is your attitude.

Exploring a simple way to take the fear and anxiety out of managing the future, Who Moved My Cheese? can help you discover how toย anticipate, acknowledge, and accept change in order to have a positive impact on your job, your relationships, and every aspect of your life.” -Amazon

Opening thoughts: I’ve heard about this book for a while now but mainly put it off because it was so short. The book was about 1.5hrs long, and average books I go through range from 5-8 hours. I figured it would be a perfect time to read this short book because I was already behind in my January reading and needed something quick to go through. Nonetheless, this book was published quite a while ago, almost 20 years ago in 1998, so it must have great retaining value as a classic.

Key ideas/notes:

  • Today’s companies need flexible people not only to survive but stay competitive
  • We resist changing because we are afraid of change
  • The little people in the story became comfortable and felt entitled for their cheese
    • “cheese” in this story is anything you desire to attain: money, comfort, a job, etc.
  • When the cheese disappeared, the two mice were ready for it and were off to find new cheese
  • Having cheese was what the little people though they needed to be happy
  • The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold onto it
  • Maybe they should stop analyzing the situation so much and stop feeling entitled, and just go and look for new cheese
  • Fear of failure will crush your hopes of finding new cheese
  • They decided to work hard and dig a hole to see if there was hidden cheese instead of going out and finding new cheese (staying in comfort zone)
    • There’s a difference between activity and productivity
    • Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting new results
    • Where are you more likely to find cheese, here or back in the maze?
  • Use your imagination to paint he most believable picture you can with the most realistic details of finding and enjoying the taste of new cheese
  • If you do not change, you can become extinct
  • Why don’t we get up and move with the cheese sooner?
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
    • Better late than never
  • Expect change to happen and look for it
  • Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
  • Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese
  • When you move beyond fear, you feel free
  • The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you will find new and better cheese
  • It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheese-less situation
  • What you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagined. The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists
  • Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese
    • When you change what you believe, you’ll change what you do
  • Noticing the small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes to come
  • The fastest way is to laugh at your own folly, then you can let it go and quickly move on
  • The biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself, and nothing gets better until you change
  • Safer to be aware of your real choices than to isolate yourself in your comfort zone
  • Peer pressure also adds to change resistance
  • The ability to laugh at ourselves is the best sign of good mental health, if we don’t defend our position
  • Those who win and are successful develop change skills
  • Managing the good times:
    • 1) Remembering how you got there
    • 2) Being humble and curious to learn more
    • 3) Saving some of your resources that you will need to prosper in the forthcoming valleys
  • If you learn how to be humble, grateful, and realistic on the peak, you will learn how to get out of the valley faster

Closing thoughts: Fantastic book. Very quick read as I finished it in one day, but its key nuggets definitely pack a powerful punch. Admittedly, many books take up several hundred pages just to elaborate on only a few good nuggets. This book illustrates its key ideas of change in an easy-to-follow story about small people finding cheese in a maze in only a handful of pages.

This book isn’t one of those books that give you clear next steps like my last couple of books, but it does leave you with the big idea that you can use as a framework to analyze your own life. It makes you ask the tough questions like “what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” and “what am I holding onto that is holding me back?” It’s clear why this book has had and continues to have such a big impact on organizations and individuals even almost 20 years after its initial publication.

Nutshell: Develop the ability to change and adapt to survive and succeed.

Rating: 4/5

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