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Change is inevitable, and Spencer Johnson knew this very well when he wrote Who Moved My Cheese. This short dramatic story addresses change in life, exploring how one could handle it in the workplace and day-to-day life as well. Positive change comes when one can sense, expect, and adapt to it by responding appropriately through action. After executing all these measures, change becomes enjoyable and life more interesting, with better results in work and life. This summary essay on Who Moved My Cheese shall provide a critical analysis of the main characters of the story and their attitude to changes..
Of all other things in life, change is the only constant thing, and by learning to adapt to and enjoy it, life stops being a puzzle and becomes one enjoyable adventure. With full knowledge of these facts about change, Spencer wrote Who Moved My Cheese from personal experience to help others accept and adopt change in life. Laying down strategies in handling change is of the essence of this book.
The book opens by stating the four major characters, Scurry and Sniff, the two mice and Haw and Hem, the two little people. “Sniff…sniffs out change early, Scurry…scurries into action, Hem…denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse, Haw…learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better!” (Spencer 1).
Into the plot, Spencer adds a maze, which represents the workplace or the place where people look for the things they desire. Cheese is used as a metaphor in Who Moved My Cheese for the things that people look for in life like food, health, wealth, among others. Having put this in place, the author starts the story.
The two mice and the two little people live in a maze where every morning, they run to Cheese Station C and get enough cheese for everyone’s needs. With time, self-satisfaction sets in, and Hem and Haw start taking their cheese for granted.
Fortunately, Sniff and Scurry are ever serious with their cheese, and they keep on investigating its source to see whether the supply is diminishing. One day, these characters run to the station only to find the cheese is gone. Scurry and Sniff, being little creatures void of intelligence and reasoning, are not surprised by the absence of the cheese.
They look for another cheese somewhere else in the maze. However, Hem and Haw employ their intelligence to determine who might have moved their cheese. They cannot accept the fact that cheese is gone, so they end up wasting many days staring at the empty station. In other words, the two little people with their intelligence cannot accept and adapt to change easily, while the two mice notice the change, adapt to it, and move on to find new cheese.
After many days of staying at the empty station , Haw decides to leave and search for another source of cheese. However, he finds the idea of leaving the station tempting, especially after listening to negative Hem, who sees it risky to leave it. Consequently, Haw decides to join Hem in staying at Station C wishing and waiting for a miraculous reappearance of their lost cheese. Finally, Haw gets the idea that, if they do not do something, they will perish; therefore, he decides to move in search of new cheese.
For some time, he feels lost, but after many days of persistence, he starts feeling better about his exploits even though he has not gotten new cheese yet. He is convinced that, imagining that he has a new cheese will lead him to one, and this is precisely what happens; he finds a new cheese station, which is almost empty. Despite this misfortune, Haw learns a lesson.
Staying for long at this station causes Haw to miss the next cheese supply. He concludes, “The quick you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese” (Spencer 17). From a loving heart, Haw goes back to the station with some new cheese to replenish Hem. Unfortunately, Hem is still in denial, and he refuses Haw’s offer of a new cheese; he maintains that he wants his cheese back.
Hem maintains, “I want my own Cheese back and I’m not going to change until I get what I want” (Spencer 17). After realizing he cannot persuade Hem to leave Station C and search for new cheese, Haw leaves and continues his search for new cheese supplies.
In his adventures, Haw realizes change is not bad after all; consequently, he adopts the motto, “when you change what you believe, you change what you do” (Spencer 18). Therefore, to start with, Haw changes the way he believes and writes on a rock, “Old beliefs, do not lead you to new cheese” (Spencer 18).
Within no time, Haw realizes his new thinking pattern is producing new useful behaviors. Importantly, he notes he no longer goes back to any of the stations without cheese; instead, he searches through the maze to find new cheese-loaded stations. Finally, his positive attitude pays back as he comes to Cheese Station N.
To Haw’s surprise, Scurry and Sniff are already at this station. Haw observes Sniff and Scurry have grown fat making him conclude they have been around this cheese station for quite some time. Despite the time he wasted along the journey, Haw is thankful he has learned vital lessons.
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To be on the safe side, he applies his new lessons daily. First, he investigates the station every morning to notice any changes in supply. In addition, he explores the whole maze to see if there are other sources of cheese supply in case the supply at the station runs out. As the story closes, Haw hears a sound and only hopes Hem has finally broken loose from his negative mentality to find the new station. Thus, it can be concluded that the four characters of the story represent people’s different attitudes to problems and changes.
A number of lessons come out clearly in this story. The vital thing to do when change beckons is to acknowledge it and take decisive action that lines up the change to work for one’s benefit. Denying change will lead to extinction or mediocrity, an unproductive life characterized by commonness, void of adventures and thrills.
Regarding the real life examples of Who Moved My Cheese characters, those who take after Sniff and Scurry in today’s world reap big from change; those who take after Haw benefit, although after a long struggle while those who take after Hem remain surrounded by fear of the unknown. The fundamental rule in the maze that is life is to acknowledge and take action towards utilizing change that comes one’s way. However, actions without a proper implementation strategy might lead to wasting a lot of time in the maze for no reason.
Sniff and Scurry, “had noticed the supply of cheese had been getting smaller every day, they were prepared for the inevitable and knew instinctively what to do” (Spencer 8). The preparedness that Scurry and Sniff had symbolizes the strategy that people should have in life to counterchange. The two mice would investigate the cheese everyday to note any changes in supply. Likewise, people should notice any little changes and strategize on how to counter the same.
In addition, during change, one needs to maintain a positive attitude. For Haw, he realizes, “Imagining myself enjoying the cheese even before I find it lead me to it” (Spencer 17). One has to set goals and then align his/her thoughts towards the positive realization of those goals. As the old saying asserts, ‘as a man thinks so he is,’ thinking of having achieved the set goals will lead to their realization.
As the conclusion of Who Moved My Cheese proves it, positive adaptation of change requires one to abandon fear and self-satisfaction. Just like Haw, it might seem hard to leave what one is used to; nevertheless, experience dictates that without leaving the seashore, one will never discover new oceans. Ignoring the facts does not change them; therefore, it is good for people to accept change because change is unavoidable.
The adage asserts that ‘change is the only constant thing’; consequently, adapting and repeatedly enjoying change is the best thing to do. As is clear from this summary essay on Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer wrote the story to illustrate the effects of denying change or accepting it. Acknowledging, strategizing for, acting on, and enjoying change, underlines Spencer’s work. The ‘Hems’ of today should learn from and emulate the ‘Sniffs’ and ‘Scurrys’ to avoid extinction or mediocrity.
Spencer, Johnson. Who Moved My Cheese?. N.d. Web.