Who Moved My Cheese

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Who Moved My Cheese? written by Spencer Johnson is an art book about business, which, through the example of mice and little people, shows the essence of human life and aspirations. In this little story, there are only four characters, but everyone can recognize him/herself in them. The piece of writing tells that life is constantly moving forward, and people should no longer stay in the past because if they stop today, tomorrow, they can be far behind others. This, perhaps, is one of the most important ideas which author wants to convey to a reader. The value of this work is also in the fact that almost every episode is related to some important philosophical lesson explained in an accessible language using metaphors and allegories, which are easily understandable for a majority. Furthermore, Who Moved My Cheese? is a very practical book because, on its pages, there are a lot of useful tips and inspirational phrases that will make one move from one piece of cheese to the next one. That is why materials of this work are often used to develop training programs and formulate the HR strategy of enterprises.

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In Who Moved My Cheese? there are many deviations, but the main thing is the story of the two mice Sniff and Scurry, and two little gnomes, which are small like mice, but quite human – Hem and Haw. The narrative starts from the scene when several former classmates see each other during the morning launch after the meeting of the graduates, which was the night before. They want to talk a little more but do not know what else to talk about. Then, one of them begins to tell a story about mice, which they, subsequently, amicably discussed. At first glance, it is a children’s fairy tale about mice and gnomes who are trying to find cheese in a labyrinth where they live. Each of their days begins from searching for their unusual and, of course, best cheese, which provides them with pleasure and success. All of them, in different ways, have found this unique cheese, and waking up in the morning, they put on suits and sneakers and go to the cheese pantry, but once, when they come there, they do not find any cheese. Sniff and Scurry, being simple mice, accept it as a normal and natural event and immediately run to look for the New Cheese, as they have always done. However, for Hem and Haw, the disappearance of cheese becomes a serious problem. Their familiar world has collapsed, and they are not ready for searching for the New Cheese. Therefore, their reaction is different from the one of mice as one of them is shocked and refuses to believe that it is happening with him, when the other one is looking for the guilty person and whom to blame.

In fact, this story is about people, about their search for a better place under the sun, the best tidbit from a big head of cheese called “Happiness”, and the ways in which they achieve their dreams. Moreover, this story was written in a period of one of the economic crises when many companies that seemed to be sitting on an endless source of “cheese” found out that, in one night, all of the “cheese” had disappeared. The financial crisis led to the sharp reduction in sales markets and the wiping out of entire industries. Although the book is called Who Moved My Cheese?, it is not about looking for the guilty ones, but about analyzing how different people behave when faced with change, and what behavior leads to success and which one results in defeat.

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Characters and Their Response to Change

As it has already been stated, this story gives an understanding of how people act in crisis situations. One can distinguish three basic types of response to the challenges based on the reactions of the main characters. First, attention should be paid to an example of mice whose realistic experience is subject to the principle of reality. They quickly understand what is happening, accept it, and adapt to new circumstances and a sense of life. What is more, they realize that the attitude to things which was previously present in their lives is no longer essential, and they irrevocably throw out the past and are completely involved in the present and the future events. The second kind of response is presented through Hem who ignores the already existing fact and denies it like “nothing terrible has happened”, which forms and supports the illusion of the well-being and safety of the disturbing content of life. It is a kind of a deviate reaction of an infantile consciousness. Finally, there is Haw who completely recognizes the existence of a critical situation, but rejects the passive acceptance of it. Since he has an experience of volitional behavior, in critical situations, he retains the ability to consciously seek a way out and has a high level of self-reflection.

Such differences in the behavior of people can be related to their psychological peculiarities related to dealing with critical situations. Furthermore, they are closely connected with the psychological maturity and the locus of control along with a level of a positive attitude toward the circumstances and ability to accept the responsibility. Therefore, different people have dissimilar internal and external factors which are affecting their behavior in various situations forming the most typical reaction for them.

My Own Experience

The persona of Haw is most relevant to my own experience of acting in hard situations. To begin with, this character is a developed personality who has his own strengths and limitations with self-reflection being his strongest point which helps him to overcome his own mistake and to reach his goal. In my past, I was in a similar situation when it seemed to me that my established daily routine suddenly disappeared, and I had to change something. However, in contrast to an example provided by mice, which quickly have changed their direction and begun to search for the New Cheese, I got into a prolonged depression that lasted for several weeks and which ended with my dialogue with myself. During this self-reflection, I understood that there was no chance that I would accept to remain in that state of stagnation and, therefore, I started to move forward. Thus, the example of Haw is the most suitable for my own situation.

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Who Moved My Cheese? written by Spencer Johnson provides a unique view on the performance in critical situations shaping the understanding of how a person should act to overcome hard times. Moreover, the story in this book is written in an understandable manner and is similar to a fairy tale, which makes it easier to associate oneself with different characters and to make conclusions based on their actions. In addition, the whole story states that changes are inevitable. They always happen, whether someone wants it or not. The ability to feel, to anticipate, to change, and to adapt makes life much easier and comfortable, and any resistance to changes leads to stagnation, decline, and contradicts development. Depending on how quickly a person is able to rebuild and change themselves in accordance with changed conditions, the possibility of success in life grows. If I have to define the closest to my own style of action in critical situations, I would prefer to choose the example of Haw, who has moved from stagnation, caused by stress, to active movement forward to the New Great Goal.

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