Do you want to learn how to deal with change? How can you cope with a sudden job loss? How can you handle an unexpected problem in your business? There is no permanent solution to life. You will always face change. How you handle it is what will determine your success.
The story of Who Moved My Cheese is about four characters. One of them will show you how to deal with change. The characters live in a maze that has many rooms and corridors. The cheese symbolizes what people most want in life. It could be a stable job or a successful business, a loving relationship with family, good health, or peace of mind.
What if you were to lose your cheese one day? What would your reaction be? You will see yourself as the 4 characters. Sometimes you find it difficult to accept the change. Sometimes you get anxious about the future or feel depressed. You will learn valuable lessons as you follow the adventures of the four characters. So let’ get in to the class.
Who Moved My Cheese
There were four characters who lived in a maze long ago in a faraway land. Two of them were mice. Their names were Sniff or Scurry. Two of them can be as small as mice. They are called Hem or Haw.
Sniff, Scurry have simple brains and good instincts. They search for cheese by sniffing, searching and scurrying like all mice. Hem and Haw have more sophisticated brains. They have emotions and beliefs. They consider cheese to be very special. It makes them feel happy and successful.
Every morning, the mice put on their running sneakers. They run around the maze in search of cheese, leaving behind their tiny holes.
There are many twists and turns in the maze. It is a maze of many doors and chambers. Some have cheese inside. Some are dark and empty. Anybody can lose their way. The maze holds secrets that can bring happiness and fulfillment to those who are able to find them.
Sniff and Scurry rely on trial and error to find their way. They enter a corridor. If it’s empty they just turn around and keep looking. They notice empty corridors and start looking for new routes.
Hem and Haw are complex, however. They have different ways of seeing things. Sometimes their beliefs or emotions can overtake them. This makes their search more difficult.
All four of them eventually found their way to Cheese Station C. Here is where you will find piles upon piles of cheese. After finding the abundant supply of cheese, Sniff, Scurry and Hem settled into their own routines.
Sniff, Scurry and their dog Scurry wake up in the morning just like they always do. They get on their running shoes, put them on, and race to Station C. They do this so they can quickly re-attach the shoes for future use.
Sniff and Scurry will then enjoy their cheese.
Hem and Haw are different. They get up a little later each morning. They start preparing a little slower and walk to Station C.
Hem or Haw would rest at Station C after they arrive. They take off the slippers and put on their socks. Hem and Haw feel more at ease now that they know where the cheese is.
“This is great. There’s enough Cheese to last us forever.” Hem said. The little people have fun. They are happy, successful, and happy. They feel very secure with their cheese.
Station C is where Hem and Haw have built their lives. They have found new holes to settle down so that they can enjoy the cheese. They feel Station C is right for them. Hem and Haw post a message on the wall every day to make them smile. It says, “Having Cheese Makes You Happy.”
“We deserve this Cheese. We certainly worked hard enough to find it.” Hem would say. Hem took a big piece of cheese and enjoyed it. Hem would fall asleep whenever he was full.
The little ones would return home from school with their bellies full of cheese. Every day they woke up confident, knowing that they would be eating lots of cheese again.
Sniff and Scurry woke up every morning, however, keeping them awake. They sniffed around Station C, and would check for any changes. Sniff, Scurry and Scurry will then sit down and enjoy their cheese.
One early morning, the mice arrived at Station C and found that there’s no cheese. They weren’t surprised. Sniff, Scurry and others noticed that the cheese pile was getting smaller and smaller every day. They have prepared for this.
Sniff and Scurry took off their running shoes and put them on again. They didn’t spend too much time analysing what had happened. The problem is easy for the mice and the solution is straightforward. Station C has changed. They must also change.
The mice went to the maze. Sniff continued sniffing, and Scurry continued scurrying. They quickly started their search for New Cheese.
After a few hours, Hem and Haw arrived at Station C. They didn’t notice the small changes like Sniff and Scurry did. They haven’t been paying attention. That’s why they were very shocked to find that the cheese is gone.
“What! No Cheese?” Hem screamed. “No Cheese? No Cheese? Who Moved My Cheese?” Hem kept on screaming as if that would get the cheese back. His face turned reddish and sour. He clenched his fist, and shouted loudly. “This is not fair!”
Haw just stood there staring. He couldn’t believe it. He had no idea. He was unprepared. Hem was shouting loudly, but Haw didn’t hear it. Haw was disbelieving and shut himself out.
The reactions of the little ones are quite understandable. It is not easy to find cheese. It isn’t just about having food every day.
For Haw, cheese means security. It means that Haw will one day own a cottage on Cheddar Lane. It means living a simple life with a loving and supportive family.
For Hem, cheese means superiority. Hem wants to own a Big Cheese and manage a large house on Camembert Hill.
The little ones are very fond of cheese. They spent a lot of time thinking about what to do. Hem and Haw didn’t do anything but walk around Station C. They still hope they will find cheese.
Sniffy and Scurry continued their journey. Hem and Haw continued ranting and raving. The words “why”, “it isn’t fair”, “this can’t be happening” kept spiralling in their heads.
Haw soon got depressed. He was plagued by many worries. What if there wasn’t cheese tomorrow? What would happen to him if there was no cheese tomorrow?
Hem and Haw felt defeated and hungry after the day. They wrote on the wall “The More Important Your Cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.”
The little people walked to Station C again the next morning. They still hope that the cheese is there. They were disappointed. Station C is still empty.
Haw wondered if Sniff and Scurry were there. They might have some information. “What would they know?” Hem said. “We’re smarter than mice.”
“I know we’re smarter. But we don’t seem to act smarter at the moment.” Haw replied. “Things are changing, Hem. Maybe we should change as well.”
“Why should we change?” Hem believes that little people are special. They have the right to their own cheese. “We didn’t cause this problem. Someone else did it. We should get something out of it” he said.
Haw believed that they shouldn’t be too critical of the situation. They should probably get up and search for new cheese. But Hem got mad. “No! I’ll get to the bottom of this” he said.
Hem, Haw and Sniff are still pacing around Station C. However, Sniff & Scurry have already gone far into the maze. They reached an area they had never seen before. It is called Station N.
The mice squealed in joy. Station N is bursting with cheese. Sniff and Scurry haven’t seen that much cheese in their whole life.
Station C: Haw and Hem feel angry and frustrated back at Station C. Haw often thought about the mice. He thought about the mice often and realized that they might also need to get moving.
Haw began to visualize himself going on an adventure through the maze. He imagined himself discovering new cheese and eating lots. Haw became more motivated by his imagination the more he did.
“Let’s go!” He exclaimed.
“No”, Hem said. I like it here.”
Hem is already used to Station C. He is fearful of what’s out there. Haw encouraged him. They’ve been searching around the maze before. They’re sure they can do this again.
Hem can’t be persuaded. He says he’s too old. He doesn’t want to get lost. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself. Hem continued to live like this, full with worries, frustrations, and excuses.
Haw is starting to see the truth. They’d only get worse if left in this position. “Look at us” Haw said. “We keep doing the same things over and over again and wonder why things don’t get better”
“Why don’t you just wait here until the cheese gets back?” Hem said. Haw was scared of going out in the maze again, of going into the unknown but. Haw realized that the cheese in Station C won’t ever go back. It’s time to find new cheese.
Hem claimed that Haw might never find cheese out there and that Haw could become lost and never find his path.
Haw is also uncertain, but the idea of adventure excites him. It makes him feel good that he can get up again to search the maze. He might get lost, but he knows he can find his way back.
Haw imagined himself finding new cheese, delicious cheese which he haven’t taste before. He might find cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan. Just thinking about them made him feel uplifted.
“Sometimes things change and they are never the same again. This seems like one of those times. That’s life! Life is ever-changing. And so should we” he told Hem.
Haw encouraged his friend even more to come along with him. Hem wouldn’t listen.
Haw was now ready to face the challenges ahead. He felt more alive. He was in a ridiculous situation and now he can laugh at himself. With a smile on his face, Haw announced “It’s maze time!”
Haw took a stone with him before he left. He wrote on the wall the words “If you do not change, you will become extinct.”
Haw recalled the days when he felt depressed. How did he find himself in this situation? Instead of asking who move my cheese, Haw asked himself, “Why didn’t I get up and move with the cheese sooner?”
Haw took deep breaths and moved slowly ahead.
He noticed that his knees were getting weaker. Haw has been stuck in Station C so long. It is difficult for him to get out of Station C again. That’s why he said to himself that the next time he loses cheese; he would get out of his comfort zone. He would be ready for change immediately.
Haw smiled at himself and said “Well, better late than never.”
Haw discovered some cheese crumbs in the next few days. Sometimes he gets lost in the maze. It seems like a lot of things had changed. He kept going with his little steps. It’s a challenge to get out again and search for cheese. But Haw admitted that this isn’t as bad as he thought it would be.
Haw reminded him that even when things get tough, it’s better than being in a Cheeseless position. This is better than waiting to see the cheese return. Haw is taking charge right now. He doesn’t simply let things happen to him.
If Sniffy and Scurry can do this, then so can he!
Haw realized as he was going down the path that Station C’s cheese probably didn’t disappear overnight. He should have noticed small changes. The cheese pile is getting smaller. It’s beginning to taste old. It might even have molds growing on top.
Haw might have predicted this change, but he ignored it. He would have been less shocked and depressed if only he had paid more attention to the small changes.
He decided to be more alert from now on. Haw expected change from now on. He would use his basic instincts to adapt to change faster.
Haw sat down and wrote a note on the wall. It read “Smell the Cheese often so you know when it’s getting old.”
He kept walking and eventually found a big Cheese Station. It is almost as big as Station C. It seems very promising. Maybe there’s plenty of cheese inside. However, when he tried to enter it, he discovered that it was empty.
Haw was so disappointed. Perhaps he should just return to Station C. At least Hem would be there so Haw wouldn’t feel so alone.
He feels weak. He feels weak and wants to give up. He is burdened by fear. What is the future? Perhaps he would lose his way or fall off. Haw imagined that bad things would happen to him. But then he asked himself, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
He realized that his fears were only making it worse. He should just keep going on his journey. Haw wrote on the wall. “Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.”
He laughed at himself. Haw let go of his fears. He realized that he had to let go. He should just trust the future and continue on.
Haw discovered that he enjoys the ride more and more. “Why do I feel so good? I don’t have cheese and I don’t know where I am going.”
Then he realized the reason. Haw wrote it on the walls. “When you stop being afraid, you feel good!”
He was held prisoner by his own fear. He feels free now that he is moving in a new direction. Haw felt hope. He felt refreshed. Haw had lost this feeling, that feeling of joy and excitement, that he believed in himself.
He thought about his fantasies of finding the great pile of cheese. He imagined himself surrounded by his favorite kinds of cheese. He imagined himself enjoying all the flavors. He visualized it more often in his mind, and it became more real. Haw now believes he can get there. He could find new cheese.
He wrote on the wall, “Imagining yourself enjoying new cheese leads you to it.”
Haw was once pessimistic. He feels more optimistic now. He wondered why he believed that change would lead to something worse. He now realizes that change can lead him to something better.
“Why didn’t I see this before?” he said.
He raced through the maze. He felt stronger. He felt motivated. Haw ran forward until another cheese station appeared. There are bits and pieces of cheese leading to the door.
Haw hasn’t seen this type of cheese before. They are so delicious. He picked the pieces. He ate one and kept the rest for later. Haw then opened the doors.
He was thrilled. To his dismay, Haw discovered that the cheese station was also empty. Maybe someone else has already used the cheese. Haw could have moved earlier and found more cheese.
Haw took some of the cheese. He decided to return home to Hem. His friend might be ready to go. Haw followed his steps back to Station C. He stopped for a quick note on the wall.
“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”
Haw made it to Station C, where he saw Hem. He brought out bits of cheese out of his pocket and offered it.Hem appreciated Haw’s gesturebut he declined. Hem said, “I don’t think I would like New Cheese. It’s not what I’m used to. I want my own Cheese back and I’m not going to change until I get what I want.”
It was very sad. Haw just shook his heads and left. He turned his back, and walked ahead.
Haw reached the empty cheese station once more. Haw had lost his friend. He enjoyed the adventure he had. He enjoyed the feeling of happiness that he felt when he let go his fear. Haw felt completely different from when he was at cheeseless Station C.
Haw is confident that he will someday find the perfect cheese. He wrote on the wall. “It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation.” Haw learned that change is bound to happen, whether you saw it coming or not.
He was able to recall the days of feeling hopeless and scared. He was able to recall thinking of the worst and not looking for the good. Haw learned to adapt. He wrote on the wall.
“Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.”
He had new beliefs and new behavior when he did. You can stay fearful and resist change. You can either be optimistic and embrace the change. You have complete control. You decide what beliefs you believe. Haw added some more notes to the wall.
“When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you can change course.”
“Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”
Haw immediately forgot all about the past. He remained focused on his future. Haw made big strides. He felt stronger than ever. It seemed like his search would continue forever. This journey would not end. It did, however, not soon enough.
Haw walked into a corridor he had never seen before. He walked towards the cheese station and saw it. It is Cheese Station N.
He entered the door, and was amazed. Station N is filled with cheese! It was more than he could have imagined. Haw could see cheese everywhere. He can see all types of cheese. They are so bright and delicious. And look! His mice friends Sniffy and Scurry are also there.
Sniff nodded and Scurry waved back at him. Haw said hello, then he indulged in new cheese. Haw climbed up to the top of the cheese pile. He tried every kind of cheese that he saw. Haw took his shoes off and tied them around his neck. They might come in handy again one day.
Haw leapt for joy and ran all around. He shouted “Hooray for change!” Sniff and Scurry are happy for him. Haw lifted a large chunk of cheese and made toast. “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”
Haw realized the fastest way for him to change was to laugh at his own folly. He was able, once he could see his past self, to see things differently, to adapt. Haw changed his ways and found new cheese.
He also learned a lot by Sniffing and Scurry. The mice live simple lives. They didn’t make things more complicated. When they saw that there’s no more cheese, they acted fast. They moved because the cheese had moved. Haw will be able to recall that.
Haw thought about Hem. Perhaps he could help his friend. He realized that he had already tried. Hem should make his own decisions. Hem should have the ability to face his fears. Hem cannot do it for anyone. He must make the change himself.
If Hem ever comes out of Station C, he would see Haw’s handwriting on the wall. Haw jotted down the notes and created a summary. He drew it in Station N’s largest wall.
Haw ate some more delicious cheese. They heard footsteps approaching. Maybe it’s Hem! Maybe all four friends could finally “Move with the Cheese and Enjoy it!”
Change is part and parcel of life. You know how to adapt to change. You must also move like cheese. You might feel like Hem, who has difficulty changing.
You might have lost something or someone you value. You might feel angry and frustrated. You might be afraid about what could happen. Instead of dwelling on the worst, try to see the good.
Negative thoughts will only lead to negative behaviors. Instead, choose to be like Haw. Accept the change without fear. That way, you can move on and find your new cheese.
There will always be new cheese. It is up you to find it, and to enjoy its new flavour. Thank you for being here.