Who moved my cheese

The Characters:

The Mice

Sniff- who sniffs out change early

Scurry- who scurries into action

The Little People

Hem- who denies and resists change as he thinks it will lead to something worse

Haw- who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better

The Goal:

Cheese– a metaphor for what we want to have in life

The Way:

Maze– where you spend time looking for what you want

The Story

The mice are named Sniff and Scurry. Sniff sniffs out changes early and Scurry scurries into action. The two little men in the parable are Hem and Haw. Hem denies and resists change because he fears that something worse will happen. Haw learns to adapt in time when he sees that change can lead to something better. Throughout the book these four characters search and jog through the maze, occasionally getting lost.

On their journey the four characters barely survive until they finally see the “light at the end of the tunnel” and proceed to eat lots of cheese and are very happy. Then things begin to change. Sniff and Scurry soon notice changes in their environment. Hem and Haw, however, think they are “out of the woods” and take the cheese for granted. These two develop a comfort level in their newly found stash of cheese. Gradually the cheese begins to dwindle. Sniff and Scurry are not concerned. They see that the cheese is not going to last forever so they put on their running shoes and search for new cheese.

Meanwhile, Hem and Haw do not notice the dwindling supply of cheese. They are not alert to what the future holds for them. When all the remaining cheese is finally consumed, Hem and Haw throw two huge fits like little babies. This does not bring the cheese back, yet they remain unwilling to search for new cheese.

Change occurs and Hem and Haw are left behind. Hem is bitter and reluctant to leave the cheese station in order to find new cheese. He is very stubborn. He is too set in his ways to make the necessary changes. He thinks he deserved the cheese, and wants the cheese to be returned. He is not interested in searching for new cheese. His old cheese is the only cheese he wants and he refuses to leave the empty cheese station. Many people stick with old ways of doing things because it is too frightening or difficult to change with the times.

Haw begins to be concerned that they are spinning their wheels. For a while he hopes that the old cheese will  return. He is afraid of venturing back out into the maze, so he waits with Hem. Finally, after being very hungry from the lack of cheese, Haw, out of desperation, decides to go search for new cheese. This takes a great deal of strength for Haw to face his fears and to leave Hem behind. On his journey Haw leaves several notes on the walls of the maze as he learns new truths. A few of the writings are:

  • Having cheese makes you happy
  • The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it
  • If you do not change, you can become extinct
  • What would you do if you were’nt afraid?
  • Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.
  • Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.
  • When you stop being afraid, you feel good
  • Imagining yourself enjoying your new cheese leads you to it
  • The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese
  • It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless 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 bigger changes that are to come

Haw eventually finds his way to the new cheese. There he discovers Sniff and Scurry, who have already found the fresh cheese and have been enjoying it for some time. Haw is sorry that he had not set out in search of the new cheese sooner. However, he misses his friend Hem, who took himself too seriously.

The Lessons

Change happens: They keep moving the cheese

Anticipate change: Get ready for the cheese to move

Monitor change: Smell the cheese often so that you know when it is getting old

Adapt to change quickly:The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese

Change: Move with the cheese

Enjoy change: Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese

Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again: They keep moving the cheese

 Adapted from the book ” Who Moved my Cheese?”


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