Bodhi Book Summary: Who Moved My Cheese
by Dr. Spencer Johnson
Summarized and Reviewed by Chris Wilcock
The Brief Summary
In a brief parable, flanked by a recounted story of a reunion, and discussion of the main story, Dr. Spencer Johnson holds a mirror up to the reader and allows us to reflect on four different elements of ourselves: Two mice "Sniff" who quickly identifies change and "Scurry" who jumps into action, and the "littlepeople" who "Hem" and "Haw" while they deny and resist change, then eventually adapt to capture even greater rewards. The parable relates to the constant of change and how we react to it by channeling one of these 4 emotions. Oftentimes simpler is better in times of chaos, which can lead to better outcomes for "Sniff" and "Scurry."
The Long Summary
In a brief parable, four characters, each representing different facets of our reactions to change (two simple and two complex) live out their experiences in a giant maze seeking a reward of cheese. One day, the cheese is no longer where it's expected to be (despite its gradual decline in quantity over time that went un-noticed to two of the characters). The cheese is unique to each person however. For some it's literally cheese, but for the two more complex characters, it represents a happy, steady life, or the prospects of an important high-paying job.
The mice quickly adapt after they notice the cheese supply reducing and they go searching for new cheese while the littlepeople eventually realize there is no cheese and are paralyzed by fear and reluctant to go into the maze to search for more cheese. Eventually, one of the littlepeople "Haw" decides to take the risk, and after much trial and error, finds a new stockpile of cheese where he's reunited with "Sniff" and "Scurry" who have been enjoying the new cheese. Some key lessons emerge:
- Having cheese makes you happy:
- The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold onto it
- If you do not change, you can become extinct
- What would you do if you weren't afraid?
- 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
- It is safer to search in the maze than it is to remain in a cheeseless situation
- Old beliefs do not lead 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 the bigger changes that are to come
- Change happens: They keep moving the cheese
- Anticipate change: Get ready for the cheese to move
- Monitor change: Smell the cheese often so you know when it's getting old
- Adapt to change quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese, the quicker you find 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 & again: They keep moving the cheese
Enjoyable to Read: 5 out of 5
This book is very entertaining & clever.
Reviewer's Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
It's a short read that's well written and helps identify different facets of your character. It leads to a lot of reflection on how you react to change and how to simplify a problem.
Actionable Info: 3.5 out of 5
- Reflection is a big part of it.
- Take notice of change in your environment.
- Embrace change, take risk, and accept failure and danger as part of growth.
- Be bold and act decisively.
Quality of the Ideas: 4 out of 5
|The story is told as a parable about four mice in a maze who are rewarded with cheese. One day, the cheese is moved. How will each of the mice react to this problem?|
|The cheese can represent happiness, a steady life, or prospects of an important, high-paying job. Each mouse represents the various ways humans act in the face of change. Which mouse are you?|
|The more important your "cheese" is to you, the more you want to hold onto it.|
|Anticipate change; take notice of change in your environment. It's inevitable that change happens. It's how you react to it is that's important.|
|If you don't change, you can become extinct. You must adapt to change quickly.|
|We're all afraid of change, but we need to embrace it. How would you act if you WEREN'T afraid?|
|Enjoy change. Take risks and accept failure and danger as part of growth. Savor the adventure!|
Quotability: 4 out of 5
|"If you do not change, you can become extinct."|
|"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"|
|"It is safer to search in the maze than it is to remain in a cheeseless situation."|
|"Old beliefs do not lead to new cheese."|