Who Moved My Cheese? unless people have a way of looking at change that helps them An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life understand it. Enter the Cheese story.
Dr Spencer Johnson When I told people about the story and then they got to read Foreword by KENNETH BLANCHARD Ph.D. Who Moved My Cheese? you could almost feel the release of
The Story Behind The Story negative energy beginning to occur. Person after person from every
by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. department went out of their way to thank me for the book and I am thrilled to be telling you “the story behind the story” of told me how helpful it had been to them already in seeing the Who Moved My Cheese? because it means the book has now been changes going on in our company in a different light. Believe me, written, and is available for all of us to read, enjoy and share with this brief parable takes little time to read but its impact can be others. profound.
This is something I've wanted to see happen ever since I first As you turn the pages, you will find three sections in this book. In heard Spencer Johnson tell his great “Cheese” story, years ago, the first, A Gathering, former classmates talk at a class reunion before we wrote our book The One Minute Manager together. I about trying to deal with the changes happening in their lives. The remember thinking then how good the story was and how helpful it second section is The Story of Who Moved My Cheese?, the core of would be to me from that moment on. the book. In the third section, A Discussion, people discuss what Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about change that takes place The Story meant to them and how they are going to use it in their in a Maze where four amusing characters look for “Cheese”-cheese work and in their lives.
being a metaphor for what we want to have in life, whether it is a Some readers of this book's early manuscript preferred to stop at job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom, health, the end of The Story, without reading further, and interpret its recognition, spiritual peace, or even an activity like jogging or golf. meaning for themselves. Others enjoyed reading A Discussion that Each of us has our own idea of what Cheese is, and we pursue it follows because it stimulated their thinking about how they might because we believe it makes us happy. If we get it, we often apply what they'd learned to their own situation. In any case, I become attached to it. And if we lose it, or it's taken away, it can be hope each time you re-read Who Moved My Cheese? you will find traumatic. something new and useful in it, as I do, and that it will help you The “Maze” in the story represents where you spend time deal with change and bring you success, whatever you decide looking for what you want. It can be the organization you work in, success is for you.
the community you live in, or the relationships you have in your life. I hope you enjoy what you discover and I wish you well. I tell the Cheese story that you are about to read in my talks Remember: Move with the cheese!
around the world, and often hear later from people about what a Ken Blanchard
difference it has made to them. San Diego
Believe it or not, this little story has been credited with saving A Gathering Chicago
careers, marriages and lives! One sunny Sunday in Chicago, several former classmates One of the many real-life examples comes from Charlie Jones, a gathered for lunch, having attended their high school reunion the well-respected broadcaster for NBC- TV, who revealed that hearing night before. They wanted to hear more about what was the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?” saved his career. His job as happening in each other’s lives. After a good deal of kidding, and a a broadcaster is unique, but the principles he learned can be used good meal, they settled into an interesting conversation. by anyone. Angela, who had been one of the most popular people in the Here's what happened: Charlie had worked hard and had done a class, said, “Life sure turned out differently than I thought it would great job of broadcasting. Track and Field events at an earlier when we were in school. A lot has changed.”
Olympic Games, so he was surprised and upset when his boss told “It certainly has,” Nathan echoed. They knew he had gone into him he'd been removed from these showcase events for the next his family’s business, which had operated pretty much the same Olympics and assigned to Swimming and Diving. and had been a part of the local community for as long as they Not knowing these sports as well, he was frustrated. He felt could remember. So, they were surprised when he seemed unappreciated and he became angry. He said he felt it wasn't fair! concerned. He asked, “But, have you noticed how we don’t want to His anger began to affect everything he did. change when things change?”
Then, he heard the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?” Carlos said, “I guess we resist changing because we’re afraid of After that he said he laughed at himself and changed his attitude. change.”
He realized his boss had just “moved his Cheese.” So he adapted. “Carlos, you were Captain of the football team,” Jessica said. “I He learned the two new sports, and in the process, found that never thought I’d hear you say anything about being afraid!”
doing something new made him feel young. They all laughed as they realized that although they had gone off It wasn't long before his boss recognized his new attitude and in different directions – from working at home to managing
energy, and he soon got better assignments. He went on to enjoy companies – they were experiencing similar feelings. more success than ever and was later inducted into Pro Football's Everyone was trying to cope with the unexpected changes that Hall of Fame-Broadcasters' Alley. were happening to them in recent years. And most admitted that That's just one of the many real-life stories I've heard about the they did not know a good way to handle them.
impact this story has had on people-from their work life to their Then Michael said, “I used to be afraid of change. When a big love life. chance came along in our business, we didn’t know what to do. So
I'm such a strong believer in the power of “Who Moved My we didn’t do anything differently and we almost
Cheese?” that I recently gave a copy of an early pre-publication lost it.”
edition to everyone (more than 200 people) working with our “That is,” he continued, “until I heard a funny little story that company. Why? changed everything.”
Because like every company that wants to not only survive in the “How so?” Nathan asked
future but stay competitive, Blanchard Training & Development is “Well, the story altered the way I looked at change, and after constantly changing. They keep moving our “cheese.” While in the that, things quickly improved for me – at work and in my life.”
past we may have wanted loyal employees, today we need flexible “Then, I passed the story on to some people in our company and people who are not possessive about “the way things are done they passed it on to others, and soon our business did much better, around here.” because we all adapted to change better. And like me, many people And yet, as you know, living in constant white water with the said helped them in their personal lives.”
changes occurring all the time at work or in life can be stressful, “What’s the story?” Angela asked.
“It’s called, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?” the walls with sayings and even pictures of Cheese around them The grouped laughed. “I think I like it already,” Carlos said, which made them smile. One read:
“Would you tell us the story?” Having Cheese Makes You Happy.
“Sure,” Michael replied. “I’d be happy to – it doesn’t take long.” Sometimes Hem and Haw would take their friends by in to see And so he began: their pile of Cheese at Cheese Station C, and point to it with pride,
The Story saying, “Pretty nice Cheese, huh?” Sometimes they shared it with
Once, long ago in a land far away, there lived four little their friends and sometimes they didn’t.
characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish “We deserve this Cheese,” Hem said. “We certainly had to work then and make them happy. long and hard enough to find it.” He picked up a nice fresh piece Two were mice named “Sniff” and “Scurry” and two were and ate it.
littlepeople – beings who were as small as mice but who looked Afterwards, Hem fell asleep, as he often did. and acted a lot like people today. Their names were “Hem” and Every night the littlepeople would waddle home, full of Cheese, “Haw”. and every morning they would confidently return for more. Due to their small size, it would be easy not to notice what the This went on for quite some time.
four of them were doing. But if you looked closely enough, you After a while Hem’s and Haw’s confidence grew into arrogance. could discover the most amazing things! Soon they became so comfortable they didn’t even notice what Every day the mice and the littlepeople spent time in the maze was happening.
looking for their own special cheese. As time went on, Sniff and Scurry continued their routine. They The mice, Sniff and Scurry, possessing only simple rodent brains, arrived early each morning and sniffed and scratched and scurried but good instincts, searched for the hard nibbling cheese they liked, around Cheese Station C, inspecting the area to see if there had as mice often do. been any changes from the day before. Then they would sit down The two people, Hem and Haw, used their brains, filled with to nibble on the cheese.
many beliefs, to search for a very different kind of Cheese – with a One morning they arrived at Cheese Station C and discovered capital C – which they believed would make them feel happy and there was no cheese.
successful. They weren’t surprised. Since Sniff and Scurry had noticed the As different as the mice and littlepeople were, they shared supply of cheese had been getting smaller every day, they were something in common: every morning, they each put on their prepared for the inevitable and knew instinctively what to do. jogging suits and running shoes, left their little homes, and race out They looked at each other, removed the running shoes they had into the maze looking for their favorite cheese. tied together and hung conveniently around their necks, put them The maze was a labyrinth of corridors and chambers, some on their feet and laced them up.
containing delicious cheese. But there were also dark corners and The mice did not overanalyze things. And they were not blind alleys leading nowhere. It was easy place for anyone to get burdened with many complex beliefs.
lost. To the mice, the problem and the answer were both simple. The However, the two littlepeople, Hem and Haw, used a different situation at Cheese Station C had changed. So, Sniff and Scurry method that relied on their ability to think and learn from their decided to change.
past experiences, although, they would sometimes get confused by They both looked out into the maze. Then Sniff lifted his nose, their beliefs and emotions. sniffed, and nodded to Scurry, who took off running through the Eventually in their own way, they all discovered what they were maze, while Sniff followed as fast as he could. looking for – they each found their own kind of cheese one day at They were quickly off in search of New Cheese. the end of one of the corridors in Cheese Station C. Later that same day, Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C. Every morning after that, the mice and the littlepeople dressed They had not been paying attention to the small changes that had in their running gear and headed over to Cheese Station C. It wasn’t been taking place each day, so they took it for granted their Cheese long before they each established their own routine. would be there.
Sniff and Scurry continued to wake early every day and race They were unprepared for what they found.
through the maze, always following the same route. “What! No Cheese?” Hem yelled. He continued yelling, “No When they arrived at their destination, the mice took off their Cheese? No Cheese?” as though if he shouted loud enough
running shoes, tied them together and hung them around their someone would put back.
necks – so they could get to them quickly whenever they needed “Who moved my Cheese?” he hollered.
them again. Then they enjoyed the cheese. Finally, he put his hands on his hips, his face turned red, and he In the beginning Hem and Haw also raced toward Cheese Station screamed at the top of his voice, “It’s not fair!”
C every morning to enjoy the tasty new morsels that awaited them. Haw just shook his head in disbelief. He, too, had counted on But after a while, a different routine set in for the littlepeople. finding Cheese at Cheese Station C. He stood there for a long time, Hem and Haw awoke each day a little later, dressed a little slower, frozen with chock. He was just not ready for this. and walked to Cheese Station C. After all, they knew where the Hem was yelling something, but Haw didn’t want to hear it. He Cheese was now and how to get there. didn’t want to deal with what was facing him, so he just turned They had no idea where the Cheese came from, or who put it everything out.
there. They just assumed it would be there. The littlepeople’s behavior was not very attractive or productive As soon as Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C each but it was understandable.
morning, they settled in and made themselves at home. They hung Finding Cheese wasn’t easy, and it meant a great deal more to up their jogging shoes and out on their slippers. They were the littlepeople than just having enough of it to eat everyday. becoming very comfortable now that they had found the Cheese. Finding Cheese was the littlepeoples’ way of getting what they “This is great,” Hem said. “There’s enough Cheese here to last us though they needed to be happy. They had their own ideas of forever.” The littlepeople felt happy and successful, and thought what Cheese meant to them, depending on their taste. they were secure. For some, finding Cheese was having material things. For others It wasn’t long before Hem and Haw regarded the Cheese they it was enjoying good health, or developing a spiritual sense of well-found at Cheese Station C as their cheese. It was such a large store being.
of Cheese that they eventually moved their homes to be closer to it, For Haw, Cheese just meant feeling safe, having a loving family and built a social life around it. someday and living in a cozy cottage on Cheddar Lane. To make themselves feel more at home, Hem and Haw decorated To Hem, Cheese was becoming A Big Cheese in charge of others
and owning a big house atop Camembert Hill. Now and then Haw thought about his mice buddies, Sniff and Because Cheese was important to them, the two littlepeople Scurry, and wondered of they had found any cheese yet. He spent a long time trying to decide what to do. All they could think believed they might be having a hard time, as running through the trying to decide what to do. All they could think of was to keep maze usually involved some uncertainty. But he also knew that it looking around Cheeseless Station C to se of the Cheese was really was likely to only last for a while.
gone. Sometimes, Haw would imagine Sniff and Scurry finding New While Sniff and Scurry had quickly moved on, Hem and Haw Cheese and enjoying it. He thought about how good it would be for continued to hem and haw. him to be out on an adventure in the maze, and to find fresh New They ranted and raved at the injustice of it all. Haw started to get Cheese. He could almost taste it.
depressed. What would happen if the Cheese wasn’t there The more clearly Haw saw the image of himself finding and tomorrow? He had if the Cheese wasn’t there tomorrow? He had enjoying the New Cheese, the more he saw himself leaving Cheese made future plans based on this Cheese. The littlepeople couldn’t Station C.
believe it. How could this have happened? No one had warned “Let’s go!” he exclaimed, all of a sudden.
them. It wasn’t right. It was not the way things were supposed to “No,” Hem quickly responded. “I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s be. what I know.
Hem and Haw went home that night hungry and discouraged. Besides it’s dangerous out there.”
But before they left, Haw wrote on the wall: “No, it isn’t,” Haw argued. “We’ve run through many parts of the
maze before, and we can do it again.”
The More Important Your Cheese Is To You The More You Want To “I’m getting too old for that,” Hem said. “And I’m afraid I’m not Hold On To It. interested in getting lost and making a fool of myself. Are you?”
The next day Hem and Haw left their homes, and returned to With that, Haw’s fear of falling returned and his hope of finding Cheese Station C again, where they still expected, somehow, to find New Cheese faded.
their Cheese. So everyday, the littlepeople continued to do what they had The situation hadn’t changed, the Cheese was no longer there. done before. They went to Cheese Station C, found no Cheese, and The littlepeople didn’t returned home, carrying their worries and frustrations with them. know what to do. Hem and Haw just stood there, immobilized like They tried to deny what was happening, but found it harder to two statues. get to sleep, had less energy the next day, and were becoming Haw shut his eyes as tight as he could and put his hands over his irritable.
ears. He just wanted to block everything out. He didn’t want to Their homes were not the nurturing places they once were. The know the Cheese supply had gradually been getting smaller. He littlepeople had difficulty sleeping and were having nightmares believed it had been moved all of a sudden. about not finding any Cheese.
Hem analyzed the situation over and over and eventually his But Hem and Haw still returned to Cheese Station C and waited complicated brain with its huge belief system took hold. “Why did there everyday.
they do this to me?” he demanded. “What’s really going on here?” Hem said, “You know, if we just work harder we'll find that Finally Haw opened his eyes, looked around and said, “By the nothing has really changed that much. The Cheese is probably way, where are Sniff and Scurry? Do you think they know nearby. Maybe they just hid it behind the wall.”
something we don’t?” The next day, Hem and Haw returned with tools. Hem held the Hem scoffed, “What would they know?” chisel while Haw banged on the hammer until they made a hole in Hem continued, “They’re just simple mice. They just respond to the wall of Cheese Station C. They peered inside but found no what happens. We’re littlepeople. We’re special. We should be able Cheese.
to figure this out. And, besides, we deserve better.” They were disappointed but believed they could solve the “This should not happen to us, or if it does, we should at least problem. So they started earlier, stayed longer, and worked harder. get some benefits.” But after a while, all they had was a large hole in the wall. “Why should we get benefits?” Haw asked. Haw was beginning to realize the difference between activity and “Because we’re entitled,” Hem claimed. productivity.
“Entitled to what?” Haw wanted to know. “Maybe,” Hem said, “we should just sit here and see what “We’re entitled to our Cheese.” happens. Sooner or later they have to put the Cheese back.”
“Why?” Haw asked. Haw wanted to believe that. So each day he went home to rest “Because, we didn’t cause this problem,” Hem said. “Somebody and returned reluctantly with Hem to Cheese Station C. But Cheese else did this and we should get something out of it.” never reappeared.
Haw suggested, “Maybe we should stop analyzing the situation By now the littlepeople were growing weak from hunger and so much and just get going and find some New Cheese.” stress. Haw was getting tired of just waiting for their situation to “Oh no,” Hem argued. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” improve. He began to see that the longer they stayed in their While Hem and Haw were still trying to decide what to do, Sniff Cheeseless situation, the worse off they would be. and Scurry were already on their way. They went further into the Haw knew they were losing their edge.
maze, up and down corridors, looking for cheese in every Cheese Finally, one day Haw began laughing at himself. “Haw, haw, look Station they could find. at me. I keep doing the same things over and over again and They didn’t think of anything else but finding New Cheese. wonder why things don't get better. If this wasn't so ridiculous, it They didn’t find any for sometime until they finally went into an would be even funnier.”
area of the maze where they had never been before: Cheese Haw did not like the idea of having to run through the maze Station N. again, because he knew he would get lost and have no idea where They squealed with delight. They found what they had been he would find any Cheese. But he had to laugh at his folly when he looking for a great supply of New Cheese. saw what his fear was doing to him.
They could hardly believe their eyes. It was the biggest store of
cheese the mice had ever seen. He asked Hem, “Where did we put our jogging suits and running In the meantime, Hem and Haw were still back in Cheese Station shoes?” It took a long time to find them because they had put C evaluating their situation. They were now suffering from the everything away when they found their Cheese at Cheese Station C, effects of having no Cheese. They were becoming frustrated and thinking they wouldn't be needing them anymore. angry and were blaming each other for the situation they were in. As Hem saw his friend getting into his running gear, he said,
“You're not really going out into the maze again, are you? Why But Haw didn't feel confident enough yet. He had to admit, he don't you just wait here with me until they put the Cheese back?” found it confusing in the maze. Things seemed to have changed “Because, you just don't get it,” Haw said. “I didn't want to see it since the last time he was out here.
either, but now I realize they're never going to put the Old Cheese Just when he thought he was getting ahead, he would get lost in back. That was yesterday's Cheese. It's time to find New Cheese.” the corridors. It seemed his progress was two steps forward and Hem argued, “But what if there is no Cheese out there? Or even one step backwards. It was a challenge, but he had to admit that if there is, what if you don't find it?” being back in the maze, hunting for Cheese, wasn't nearly as bad “I don't know,” Haw said. He had asked himself those same as he feared it might be.
questions too many times and started to feel the fears again that As time went on he began to wonder if it was realistic for him to kept him where he was. expect to find New Cheese. He wondered if he had bitten off more Then he thought about finding New Cheese and all the good than he could chew. Then he laughed, realizing that he had nothing things that came with it and gathered his courage. to chew on at the moment.
“Sometimes,” Haw said, “things change and they are never the Whenever he started to get discouraged he reminded himself same again. This looks like one, of those times, Hem. That's life! Life that what he was doing, as uncomfortable as it was at the moment, moves on. And so should we.” was in reality much better than staying in the Cheeseless situation. Haw looked at his emaciated companion and tried to talk sense He was taking control, rather than simply letting things happen to to him, but Hem's fear had turned into anger and he wouldn't listen. him.
Haw didn't mean to be rude to his friend, but he had to laugh at Then he reminded himself, if Sniff and Scurry could move on, so how silly they both looked. could he!
As Haw prepared to leave, he started to feel more alive, knowing Later, as Haw looked back on things, he realized that the Cheese that he was finally able to laugh at himself, let go and move on. at Cheese Station C had not just disappeared overnight, as he had He announced, “It's maze time!” once thought. The amount of Cheese that had been there toward Hem didn't laugh and he didn't respond. the end had been getting smaller, and what was left had grown old. Haw picked up a small, sharp rock and wrote a serious thought It didn't taste as good.
on the wall for Hem to think about. As was his custom, Haw even Mold may even have begun to grow on the Old Cheese, although drew a picture of cheese around it, hoping it would help Hem to he hadn't noticed it. He had to admit however, that if he had smile, lighten up, and go after the New Cheese. But Hem didn't wanted to, he probably could have seen what was coming. But he want to see it. It read: didn't.
Haw now realized that the change probably would not have If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct. taken him by surprise if he had been watching what was happening Then, Haw stuck his head out and peered anxiously into the all along and if he had anticipated change.
maze. He thought about how he'd gotten himself into this Maybe that's what Sniff and Scurry had been doing. He stopped cheeseless situation. for a rest and wrote on the wall of the maze:
He had believed that there may not be any Cheese in the maze,
or he may not find it. Such fearful beliefs were immobilizing and Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old. killing him. Sometime later, after not finding Cheese for what seemed like a Haw smiled. He knew Hem was wondering, “Who moved my long time, Haw finally came across a huge Cheese Station which Cheese?” but Haw was wondering, “Why didn't I get up and move looked promising. When he went inside, however, he was most with the Cheese sooner?” disappointed to discover that the Cheese station was empty. As he started out into the maze, Haw looked back to where he “This empty feeling has happened to me too often,” he thought. had come from and felt its comfort. He could feel himself being He felt like giving up.
drawn back into familiar territory - even though he hadn't found Haw was losing his physical strength. He knew he was lost and Cheese there for some time. was afraid he would not survive. He thought about turning around Haw became more anxious and wondered if he really wanted to and heading back to Cheese Station C.
go out into the maze. He wrote a saying on the wall ahead of him At least, if he made it back, and Hem was still there, Haw and stared at it for some time: wouldn't be alone. Then he asked himself the same question, again:
“What would I do if I weren't afraid?”
What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid? He was afraid more often than he liked to admit, even to himself. He thought about it. He wasn't always sure what he was afraid of, but, in his weakened He knew sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid condition, he knew now he was simply fearful of going on alone. things are going to get worse if you don't do something, it can Haw didn't know it, but he was running behind because he was prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are so afraid weighed down by fearful beliefs.
that it keeps you from doing anything. Haw wondered if Hem had moved on, or if he was still paralyzed He looked to his right, to the part of the maze where he had by his fears. Then,
never been, and felt the fear. Haw remembered the times when he had felt his best in the Then, he took a deep breath, turned right into the maze, and maze. It was when he was moving along.
jogged slowly, into the unknown. He wrote on the wall, knowing it was as much a reminder to As he tried to find his way, Haw worried, at first, that he might himself as it was a marking for his buddy Hem hopefully to follow: have waited too long in Cheese Station C. He hadn't had any Cheese
for so long that he was now weak. It took him longer and it was Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old. more painful than usual to get through the maze. He decided that if Haw looked down the dark passageway and was aware of his fear. he ever got the chance again, he would adapt to change sooner. It What lay ahead?
would make things easier. Was it empty? Or worse, were there dangers lurking? He began Then, Haw smiled a weak smile as he thought, “Better late than to imagine all kinds of frightening things that could happen to him. never.” He was scaring himself to death.
During the next several days, Haw found a little Cheese here and Then he laughed at himself. He realized his fears were making there, but nothing that lasted very long. He had hoped to find things worse. So he did what he would do if he wasn't afraid. He enough Cheese to take some back to Hem and encourage him to moved in a new direction.
come out into the maze. As he started running down the dark corridor he began to smile.
Haw didn't realize it yet, but he was discovering what nourished his Now he felt that it was just a question of time before he found soul. He was letting go and trusting what lay ahead for him, even what he needed. In fact, he sensed he had already found what he though he did not know exactly what it was. was looking for. He smiled as he realized:
To his surprise, Haw started to enjoy himself more and more.
“Why do I feel so good?” he wondered. “I don't have any Cheese It Is Safer To Search In The Maze Than Remain and I don't know where I am going.” In A Cheeseless Situation.
Before long, he knew why he felt good. He stopped to write Haw realized again, as he had once before, that what you are again on the wall: afraid of is never as badas what you imagine. The fear you let build
up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists. When You Move Beyond Your Fear, You Feel Free. He'd been so afraid of never finding New Cheese that he didn't Haw realized he had been held captive by his own fear. Moving in even want to start looking. But since starting his journey he had a new direction had freed him. found enough Cheese in the corridors to keep him going. Now he Now he felt the cool breeze that was blowing in this part of the looked forward to finding more. Just looking ahead was becoming maze and it was refreshing. He took in some deep breaths and felt exciting.
invigorated by the movement. Once he had gotten past his fear, it His old thinking had been clouded by his worries and fears. He turned out to be more enjoyable than he once believed it could be. used to think about not having enough Cheese, or not having it last Haw hadn't felt this way for a long time. He had almost forgotten as long as he wanted. He used to think more about what could go how much fun it was. wrong than what could go right.
To make things even better, Haw started to paint a picture in his But that had changed in the days since he had left Cheese Station mind. He saw himself in great realistic detail, sitting in the middle C. He used to believe that Cheese should never be moved and that of a pile of all his favorite cheeses-from Cheddar to Brie! He saw change wasn't right.
himself eating the many cheeses he liked, and he enjoyed what he Now he realized it was natural for change to continually Occur, saw. Then he imagined how much he would enjoy all their great whether you expect it or not. Change could surprise you only if you tastes. didn't expect it and weren't looking for it. The more clearly he saw the image of New Cheese, the more real When he realized he had changed his beliefs, he paused to write it became, and the more he could sense that he was going to find it. on the wall:
Old Beliefs Do Not Lead You To New Cheese.
Imagining Myself Enjoying New Cheese Haw hadn't found any Cheese yet but, as he ran through the Even Before I find It, Leads Me To It. maze, he thought about what he had already learned. “Why didn't I do this before?” Haw asked himself. Haw now realized that his new beliefs were encouraging new Then he raced through the maze with greater strength and agility. behaviors. He was behaving differently than when he kept Before long he spotted a Cheese Station and became excited as he returning to the same cheeseless station.
noticed little pieces of New Cheese near the entrance. He knew when you change what you believe, you change what They were types of Cheeses he had never seen before, but they you do.
looked great. He tried them and found that they were delicious. He You can believe that a change will harm you and resist it. Or you ate most of the New Cheese bits that were available and put a few can believe that finding New Cheese will help you to embrace the in his pocket to have later and perhaps share with Hem. He began change.
to regain his strength. It all depends on what you choose to believe. He wrote on the
He entered the Cheese Station with great excitement. But, to his wall:
dismay, he found it was empty. Someone had already been there
and had left only the few bits of New Cheese. He realized that if he When You See That You Can Find And Enjoy New Cheese, You had moved sooner, he would very likely have found a good deal of Change Course.
New Cheese here. Haw knew he would be in better shape now if he had embraced Haw decided to go back and see if Hem was ready to join him. the change much sooner and left Cheese Station C earlier. He As he retraced his steps, he stopped and wrote on the wall: would feel stronger in body and spirit and he could have coped
better with the challenge of finding New Cheese. In fact, he The quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Find New probably would have found it by now if he had expected change, Cheese. rather than wasting time denying that the change had already After a while Haw made his way back to Cheese Station C and taken place.
found Hem. He offered Hem bits of New Cheese, but was turned He gathered his will and decided to keep proceeding into the down. newer parts of the maze.
Hem appreciated his friend's gesture but said, “I don't think I He found little bits of Cheese here and there and began to regain would like New Cheese. his strength and confidence.
It's not what I'm used to. I want my own Cheese back and I'm not As he thought back on where he had come from, Haw was glad going to change until I get what I want.” he had written on the wall in many places. He trusted it would Haw just shook his head in disappointment and reluctantly went serve as a marked trail for Hem to follow through the maze, if he back out on his own. chose to leave Cheese Station C.
As he returned to the farthest point he had reached in the maze, He just hoped he was heading in the right direction. He thought he missed his friend, but realized he liked what he was discovering. about the possibility that Hem would read The Handwriting On The Even before he found what he hoped would be a great supply of Wall and find his way.
New Cheese, if ever, he knew that what made him happy wasn't He wrote on the wall what he had been thinking about for some just having Cheese. time:
He was happy when he wasn't being run by his fear. He liked
what he was doing now. Noticing Small Changes Early Helps You Adapt To The Bigger Knowing this, Haw didn't feel as weak as he did when he stayed Changes That Are To Come.
in Cheese Station C with no Cheese. Just realizing he was not letting By now, Haw had let go of the past and was adapting to the his fear stop him and knowing that he had taken a new direction future.
nourished him and gave him strength. He continued on through the maze with greater strength and
speed. And before long, it happened. how to get out of his predicament. But Haw realized that he had When it seemed like he had been in the maze forever, his already tried to get his friend to change.
journey - or at least this part of his journey - ended quickly and Hem had to find his own way, beyond his comforts and past his happily. fears. No one else could do it for him, or talk him into it. He Haw found New Cheese at Cheese Station N! somehow had to see the advantage of changing himself. When he went inside, he was startled by what he saw. Piled high Haw knew he had left a trail for Hem and that he could find his everywhere was the greatest supply of Cheese he had ever seen. way, if he could just read The Handwriting On The Wall. He didn't recognize all that he saw, as some kinds of Cheese were He went over and wrote down a summary of what he had new to him. learned on the largest wall of Cheese Station N. He drew a large Then he wondered for a moment whether it was real or just his piece of cheese around all the insights he had become aware of, imagination, until he saw his old friends Sniff and Scurry. and smiled as he looked at what he had learned: Sniff welcomed Haw with a nod of his head, and Scurry waved his
paw. Their fat little bellies showed that they had been here for T HE HANDWRITING On THE W ALL
some time. Change Happens
Haw quickly said his hellos and soon took bites of everyone of his They Keep M oving The Cheese
favorite Cheeses. He pulled off his shoes and jogging suit and folded Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To them neatly nearby in case he needed them again. Then he jumped M ove
into the New Cheese. When he had eaten his fill, he lifted a piece of Monitor Change
fresh Cheese and made a toast. “Hooray for Change!” Sm ell The Cheese O ften So You Know W hen It Is As Haw enjoyed the New Cheese, he reflected on what he had Getting O ld
learned. Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go He realized that when he had been afraid to change he had been O f O ld Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy N ew Cheese holding on to the illusion of Old Cheese that was no longer there.
So what was it that made him change? Was it the fear of starving Change M ove W ith The Cheese
to death? Haw thought, “Well, that helped.” Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Then he laughed and realized that he had started to change as Taste O f N ew Cheese!
soon as he had learned to laugh at himself and at what he had been Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again doing wrong. He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at They Keep M oving The Cheese
your own folly - then you can let go and quickly move on. Haw realized how far he had come since he had been with Hem He knew he had learned something useful about moving on from in Cheese Station C, but knew it would be easy for him to slip back his mice buddies, Sniff and Scurry. They kept life simple. They didn't if he got too comfortable. Each day he inspected Cheese Station N overanalyze or overcomplicate things. When the situation changed to see what the condition of his Cheese was. He was going to do and the Cheese had been moved, they changed and moved with whatever he could to avoid being surprised by unexpected change. the Cheese. He would remember that. While Haw still had a great supply of Cheese, he often went out Then Haw used his wonderful brain to do what littlepeople do into the maze and explored new areas to stay in touch with what better than mice. was happening around him. He knew it was safer to be aware of his He reflected on the mistakes he had made in the past and used real choices than to isolate himself in his comfort zone. them to plan for his future. He knew that you could learn to deal Then, Haw heard what he thought was the sound of movement with change: out in the maze. As the noise grew louder, he realized that You could be more aware of the need to keep things simple, be someone was coming.
flexible, and move quickly. Could it be that Hem was arriving? Was he about to turn the You did not need to overcomplicate matters or confuse yourself corner?
with fearful beliefs. Haw said a little prayer and hoped - as he had many times before You could notice when the little changes began so that you - that maybe, at last, his friend was finally able to…
would be better prepared for the big change that might be coming.
He knew he needed to adapt faster, for if you do not adapt in Move With The Cheese And Enjoy It!
time, you might as well not adapt at all. A Discussion Later
He had to admit that the biggest inhibitor to change lies within That Same Day
yourself, and that nothing gets better until you change. When Michael finished telling the story, he looked around the Perhaps most important of all, he realized that there is always room and saw his former classmates smiling at him. New Cheese out there whether you recognize it at the time or not. Several thanked him and said they got a good deal out of the And that you are rewarded with it when you go past your fear and story.
enjoy the adventure. Nathan asked the group, “What would you think of getting He knew some fear should be respected, as it can keep you out together later and maybe discussing it?”
of real danger. But he realized most of his fears were irrational and Most of them said they would like to talk about it, and so they had kept him from changing when he needed to change. arranged to meet later for a drink before dinner. He didn't like it at the time, but he knew that the change had That evening, as they gathered in a hotel lounge, they began to turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led him to find better kid each other about finding their “Cheese” and seeing themselves
Cheese. in the maze.
He had even found a better part of himself. Then Angela asked the group good-naturedly, “So, who were you
As Haw recalled what he had learned, he thought about his in the story? Sniff, Scurry, Hem or Haw?”
friend Hem. He wondered if Hem had read any of the sayings Haw Carlos answered, “Well, I was thinking about that this afternoon. had written on the wall at Cheese Station C and throughout the I clearly remember a time before I had my sporting goods business, maze. when I ha a rough encounter with change.
Had Hem ever decided to let go and move on? Had he ever entered “I wasn't Sniff - I didn't sniff out the situation and see the change the maze and discovered what could make his life better? early. And I certainly wasn't Scurry - I didn't go into action Haw thought about going back again to Cheese Station C to see if immediately.
he could find Hem- assuming that Haw could find his way back “I was more like Hem, who wanted to stay in familiar terr ory.
there. If he found Hem, he thought he might be able to show him The truth is, I didn't want to deal with the change. I didn't even
want to see it.” Keeping our sales force depended on the big commissions they Michael, who felt like no time had passed since he and Carlos earned from the high price of our product. We had been doing this were close friends in school, asked, “What are we talking about successfully for a long time and thought it would go on forever.”
here, buddy?” “It was your ‘Cheese’,” Nathan said.
Carlos said, “An unexpected change of jobs.” “Yes, and we wanted to hang on to it. “When I think back on Michael laughed, “You were fired?” what happened to us, I see that it's not just that they 'moved the “Well let's just say I didn't want to go out looking for New Cheese Cheese,' but that the 'Cheese' has a life of its own and eventually I thought I had a good reason why change shouldn't happen to me runs out.
So, I was pretty upset at the time.” “Anyway, we didn't change. But a competitor did and our sales Some of their former classmates who had been quiet in the fell badly. We've been going through a difficult time. Now, another beginning felt more comfortable now and spoke up, including Frank, big technological change is happening in the industry and no one at who had gone into the military. the company seems to want to deal with it. It doesn't look good. I “Hem reminds me of a friend of mine,” Frank said. “His think I could be out of a job soon.”
department was closing down, but he didn't want to see it. They “It's maze time!” Carlos called out. Everyone laughed, including kept relocating his people. We all tried to talk to him about the Jessica.
many other opportunities that existed in the company for those Carlos turned to Jessica and said, “It's good that you can laugh at who wanted to be flexible, but he didn't think he had to change. He yourself.”
was the only one who was surprised when his department closed. Frank offered, “That's what I got out of the story. I tend to take Now he's having a hard time adjusting to the change he didn't think myself too seriously. I noticed how Haw changed when he could should happen.” finally laugh at himself and at what he was doing. No wonder he Jessica said, “I didn't think it should happen to me either, but my was called Haw.”
'Cheese' has been moved more than once.” Angela asked, “Do you think that Hem ever changed and found
Many in the group laughed, except Nathan. New Cheese?”
“Maybe that's the whole point,” Nathan said. “Change happens Elaine said, “I think he did.”
to all of us.” “I don't,” Cory said. “Some people never change and they pay a He added, “I wish my family had heard the Cheese story before price for it. I see people like Hem in my medical practice. They feel this. Unfortunately we didn't want to see the changes coming in entitled to their 'Cheese.' They feel like victims when it's taken our business, and now it's too late - we're having to close many of away and blame others. They get sicker than people who let go and our stores.” move on.”
That surprised many in the group, because they thought Nathan Then Nathan said quietly, as though he was talking to himself, “I was lucky to be in a secure business he could depend on, year after guess the question is, 'What do we need to let go of and what do year. we need to move on to?'”
“What happened?” Jessica wanted to know. No one said anything for a while.
“Our chain of small stores suddenly became old fashioned when “I must admit,” Nathan said, “I saw what was happening in other the mega-store came to town with its huge inventory and low parts of the country, but I hoped it wouldn't affect us. I guess it's a prices. We just couldn't compete with that. lot better to initiate change while you can than it is to try to react “I can see now that instead of being like Sniff and Scurry, we and adjust to it. Maybe we should move our own Cheese.”
were like Hem. We stayed where we were and didn't change. We “What do you mean?” Frank asked.
tried to ignore what was happening and now we are in trouble. We Nathan answered, “I can't help but wonder where we would be could have taken a lesson or two from Haw.” today if we had sold the real estate under all our old stores and Laura, who had become a successful business-woman, had been built a great modern store to compete with the best of them.”
listening, but had said very little until now. “I thought about the Laura said, “Maybe that's what Haw meant when he wrote on story this afternoon too,” she said. “I wondered how I could be the wall 'Savor the adventure and move with the Cheese.'”
more like Haw and see what I'm doing wrong; laugh at myself; Frank said, “I think some things shouldn't change. For example, I change and do better.” want to hold on to my basic values. But I realize now that I would She said, “I'm curious. How many here are afraid of change?” No be better off if I had moved with the 'Cheese' a lot sooner in my one responded, so she suggested, “How about a show of hands?” life.”
Only one hand went up. “Well, it looks like we've got one honest “Well, Michael, it was a nice little story,” Richard, the class person in our group!” she said. And then continued, “Maybe you'll skeptic, said, “but how did you actually put it into use in your like this next question better.How many here think other people company?”
are afraid of change?” Everyone raised their hands. Then they all The group didn't know it yet, but Richard was experiencing some started laughing. changes himself. Recently separated from his wife, he was now
trying to balance his career with raising his teenagers. “What does that tell us?” Michael replied, “You know, I thought my job was just to manage “Denial,” Nathan answered. the daily problems as they came up when I should have been Michael admitted, “Sometimes we're not even aware that we're looking ahead and paying attention to where we were going. afraid. I know I wasn't. When I first heard the story, I loved the “And boy did I manage those problems - twenty-four hours a day.
question, 'What would you do if you weren't afraid?’” I wasn't a lot of fun to be around. I was in a rat race and I couldn't Then Jessica added, “Well, what I got from the story is that get out.
change is going to happen- whether I'm afraid of it, or whether I “However, after I first heard the story of 'Who Moved My like it, or not. Cheese?' and saw how Haw changed,” Michael continued, “1 “I remember years ago when our company was selling sets of realized that my job was to paint a picture of 'New Cheese.' And to encyclopedia books.One person tried to tell us that we should put do it so clearly and realistically that I and the other people I worked our whole encyclopedia on a single computer disk and sell it for a with could all enjoy changing and succeeding together.”
fraction of the cost. It would cost us so much less to manufacture “That's interesting,” Angela said. “Because, to me, the most and so many more people could afford it. But we all resisted.” powerful part of the story was when Haw ran past his fear and “Why did you resist?” Nathan asked. painted a picture in his mind of finding 'New Cheese.' Running “Because, we believed then that the backbone of our business through the maze became less fearful and more enjoyable. And he was our large sales force, who called on people door-to-door. eventually got a better deal.”
Richard, who had been frowning during the discussion, said, “My “How so?” Nathan asked.
manager's been telling me our company needs to change. I think “Well, the further we went into our organization, the more what she's really telling me is that I need to, but I haven't wanted to people we found who felt they had less power. They were hear it. I guess I never really knew what the 'New Cheese' was that understandably more afraid of what the change imposed from she was trying to move us to. Or how I could gain from it.” above might do to them. So they resisted change. A slight grin crossed Richard's face as he said, “1 must admit I like “In short, a change imposed is a change opposed.
this idea of seeing 'New Cheese' and imagining yourself enjoying it. “I only wished I'd heard the Cheese story sooner,” Michael added.
It lightens everything up. It lessens the fear and gets you more “How come?” Carlos asked.
interested in making the change happen. “Because by the time we got around to addressing the changes, “Maybe I could use this at home,” he added. “My children seem our business had already fallen off so badly that we had to let to think that nothing in their lives should ever change. They're people go, including some good friends. It was hard on all of us. angry. I guess they're afraid of what the future holds. Maybe I However, practically everyone, those who left and those who haven't painted a realistic picture of 'New Cheese' for them. stayed, said the Cheese story helped them see things differently Probably because I don't see it myself.” and cope better.
The group was quiet as several people thought about their own “Those who had to go out and look for a new job said it was hard family life. at first but recalling the story was a great help to them.”
“Well,” Elaine said, “most people here are talking about jobs, Angela asked, “What helped them most?”
but as I listened to the story, I thought about my personal life. I Michael replied, “After they got past their fear, they told me the think my current relationship is 'Old Cheese' that has some pretty best thing was realizing that there was New Cheese out there just serious mold on it.” waiting to be found!
Cory laughed in agreement. “Me too. I probably need to let go of “They said holding a picture of New Cheese in their minds made a bad relationship.” them feel better, and so they did better in job interviews. Several Angela countered, “Or, perhaps the 'Old Cheese' is just old got better jobs.”
behavior. What we really need to let go of is the behavior that Laura asked “What about the people who remained in your
keeps causing our bad relationship. And then move on to a better company?”
way of thinking and acting.” “Well,” Michael said, “instead of complaining about the changes “Ouch!” Cory reacted. “Good point. The New Cheese is a new that were happening, people now said, 'They just moved our relationship with the same person.” Cheese. Let's look for the New Cheese.' It saved a lot of time and Richard said, “I'm beginning to think there is more to this than I reduced stress.
thought. I like the idea of letting go of old behavior instead of “Before long, the people who had been resisting saw the
letting go of the relationship. Repeating the same behavior will just advantage of changing. They even helped bring about change.”
get you the same results. Cory said, “Why do you think that happened?”
“Instead of changing jobs, maybe I should be one of the people “I think a lot of it had to do with the kind of peer pressure that helping my company change. I'd probably have a better job by now can exist in a company.
if I did.” “What happens in most organizations you've been in when a
Then Becky, who lived in another city but had returned for the change is announced by top management? Do most people say the reunion, said, “As I was listening to the story and to everyone's change is a great idea or a bad idea?”
comments here, I've had to laugh at myself. I've been like Hem for “A bad idea,” Frank answered.
so long, hemming and hawing and afraid of change. I didn't realize “Yes,” Michael agreed. “Why?”
how many other people did this as well. I'm afraid I've passed it on Carlos said, “Because people want things to stay the same and to my children without even knowing it. they think the change will be bad for them. When one smart “As I think about it, I realize change really can lead you to a new person says the change is a bad idea, others say the same.”
and better place, although you're afraid it won't at the time. “I “Yes, they may not really feel that way,” Michael said, “but they remember a time when our son was a sophomore in high school. agree in order to look smart as well. That's the sort of peer My husband's job required us to move from Illinois to Vermont and pressure that fights change in any organization.”
our son was upset because he had to leave his friends. He was a Becky added, “In families, the same thing can happen between star swimmer and the high school in Vermont had no swim team. parents and children.” Then she asked, “So how were things So, he was angry with us for making him move. different for you after people heard the Cheese story?”
“As it turned out, he fell in love with the Vermont mountains, Michael said simply, “People changed because no one wanted to
took up skiing, skied on his college team and now lives happily in look like Hem!”
Colorado. Everyone laughed including Nathan, who said, “That's a good “If we had all enjoyed this Cheese story together, over a cup of point. No one in my family would want to look like Hem. They hot chocolate, we could have saved our family a lot of stress.” might even change. Why didn't you tell us this story at our last Jessica said, “I'm going home to tell my family this story. I'll ask reunion? This could really work.”
my children who they think I am - Sniff, Scurry, Hem or Haw - and Michael offered one last thought. “When we saw how well it who they feel they are. We could talk about what we feel our worked for us, we passed the story along to people we wanted to family's Old Cheese is and what the New Cheese could be.” do business with-knowing their organizations were also dealing “That's a good idea,” Richard said. with change. We suggested we might be their 'New Cheese,' that is, Frank then commented, “I think I'm going to be more like Haw better partners for them to succeed with. It led to new business.”
and move with the Cheese and enjoy it! And I'm going to pass this That gave Jessica several ideas and reminded her that she had story along to my friends who are worried about leaving the some early sales calls in the morning. She looked at her watch and military and what the change will mean to them. It could lead to said, “Well, it's time for me to leave this Cheese Station and find
some interesting discussions.” some New Cheese.”
Michael said, “Well, that's how we improved our business. We The group laughed and began saying their good-byes. Many of had several discussions about what we got from the Cheese story them wanted to continue the conversation but needed to leave. As and how we could apply it to our own situation. “It was great they left, they thanked Michael again.
because we had language that was fun for us to use to talk about He said, “I'm very glad you found the story so useful and I hope
how we were dealing with change. It was very effective, especially that you will have the opportunity to share it soon with others.”
as it spread deeper into the company.” The End