Book Review of "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr Spencer
Who Moved My Cheese? It is a fable about dealing with what, according to the Greek philosopher and essay writer Heraclitus, change is the only constant in life. Spencer Johnson describes four minor characters living in a labyrinth. And how each of them reacts when their cheese suddenly disappears. According to the author, when faced with this change, there are two strategies, they can either resist the change and suffer or learn to accept it and move on to something better.
How can anyone write a business book about mice looking for cheese? Even better, how does a book become a mega-bestseller?
That's amazing about Who Took My Cheese or Who Moved My Cheese. When it was first published in 1998, it sold 21 million copies in 5 years and tens of millions more copies after that).
Who is Spencer Johnson?
Spencer Johnson was a physician and author. He is best known for writing the book Who Moved My Cheese. Dr. Johnson earned his M.D. from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland after graduating with a B.A. in psychology from the University of Southern California. He also completed internships at the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School.
He served as Director of Communications for Medtronic, the makers of cardiac pacemakers; as a Research Physician at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies; as a Consultant to the Center for the Study of the Person; and as a Leadership Fellow at Harvard Business School.
What the point of Who Moved My Cheese book?
The book begins with a realistic scenario. In Chicago, a group of former classmates enjoys a high school reunion. They are talking about how all their lives have changed over the past few years. Then, one wants to share a story he heard that helped him deal with the change. And this is when the main story begins.
In another world, there was a maze where two mice and two little people lived. The mice were named Sniff and Scurry. The two "Lilliputians" were named Kif and Kof. The "little humans" were the same size as the mice, but their minds were like ordinary people, their thoughts and emotions often complicating their lives.
Sniff and Scurry. Sniff and Scurry spend most of their time going through their maze in search of cheese, going from one path to another, not quite knowing which direction has the cheese, often ending up in dead ends, but in these cases, they just have to turn back, and they will have another chance to try again.
Kif and Kof also spend their days in a labyrinth searching for cheese, but unlike Scurry and Sniff, their search for cheese is not for the cheese itself, not that they are hungry, but they are looking for it because they believe it can bring them happiness.
Instead of starting to look for the cheese, Kif and Kof spend their time thinking about how to find the cheese most effectively, how to see what strategies work, and dreaming about what it would be like to have that cheese. This makes them think they are more efficient, but they waste a lot of time dreaming and not doing what they need to do.
At first glance, and with our tendency to overthink and perfectionism, we might think that the Sniff and Scurry mice method is inefficient, but this is due to the sunk cost bias and that we do not realize how much time we waste thinking and doubting without knowing if our hypotheses are true.
These doubts not only waste our time in minutes, hours and days but can sometimes delay us for years because we always have a new excuse as to why now is not the best time to do it, without realizing that the best time to do it is now.
Although it is true that in a few years maybe we will know more if we use our time well, it is also true that the rest of the world will learn more and that we may waste our time during those years.
Thinking is fine. Trying to be more efficient and effective is an excellent idea, but sometimes it is much more important to be proactive and do.
Everything is constantly changing. It's just that we don't want to see these changes.
We are afraid of not knowing, and that fear sometimes makes us self-deceive and think that as long as we try not to change, things will continue as they are now.
But the reality is that no matter how much we would have liked or not, the circumstances to be the same, the truth is different. The world is constantly changing, and every minute that passes will be further from the previous one and the next one that died, so if we want to achieve something, the first step is to accept that every minute and every second counts and that it is up to us to make the most of it.
To explain this to us, Spencer uses the stories of Sniff and Scurry
After searching for some time, Sniff and Scurry found several pieces of cheese on one of the paths in the maze. When they saw the cheese, the mice took advantage of it, coming to eat when they got hungry, and when they didn't, they kept exploring. And when they saw no cheese left, they simply moved on to the next place and soon found more cheese.
In contrast, when Kif and Kof found the cheese, they stayed where it was and just ate and hung out there until a few days later, they got used to the fact that there was cheese, and they didn't have to do anything to get more cheese.
The problem was that they didn't want to accept that the cheese was disappearing and that they wouldn't have any more left in a few days. One morning they woke up and realized that ''someone had taken their cheese''.
Realizing that there was no more cheese, Kif and Kof became depressed and began to complain about reality and how the world worked, how it wasn't fair. Instead of trying to solve their problems, they stayed around the area instead of looking for new sites with cheese, simply because they expected the cheese to ''magically'' reappear.
As in the previous example, our way of thinking is much more similar to Hem and Haw than to that of the mice, unfortunately, and this makes it very difficult for us to accept when problems appear, and we try to deny them even though they are right in front of us, because we have already invested in doing something, and we do not want that investment to be lost.
In addition, we unwittingly accept habits with the least friction into a state of doing nothing so that we have to expend even more energy to do something new that can help us improve.
The reason Kif and Kof ran out of cheese is the exact reason why so many companies have fallen over time. They get used to things one way and act as if they will always be that way. This leads to new competitors that take them out of the market simply because they look at the situation and try to understand how to make the most of it.
Instead of locking ourselves in and trying to avoid change, we must learn to accept it as part of the process, as the stoics do, because only if we accept change will we have any chance of learning, improving, and adapting to the new circumstances.
As they say, the only constant in the world is changing. So let's stop kidding ourselves and start looking at reality.
The key is to keep moving.
Happiness and the feeling of being fulfilled may seem like something we can only find in particular circumstances, but this is simply because we tend to want the easy option and forget the remarkable adaptability of human beings.
Happiness, feeling full and fulfilled, are emotions that we can achieve in different contexts and do not have to be something we can only get in a single situation. We must be willing to accept the changes and make the best of each context.
There is no place in the world that is just for us, but there are many places that we can shape to suit what we want to be and where we want to go.
This is demonstrated by Kif, who at first always assumed a position of being a victim and hoping that things would work out for him, but who over time realized that the fear we have is much worse in our minds and that the more we face that fear, the less its effect on us will be.
As Spencer says in his book, the best thing about cheese is not that once we have found it we have it for life, but that we can always find more cheese. We just have to be willing to look one more time.