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Change is the only constant

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Wherever Dr John Spencer is, he makes my days for offering me the brain-tickling privilege of encountering his little fancy but stern book titled Who Moved My Cheese.

I have read this little book about five times over the past 10 years. The book is an anecdotal champion for adapting to change. What makes it interesting is that the gist of the book over the years is still not lost because it embodies a principle that will forever transcend time; change is the only thing that is constant. The book was first published in 1998.

Characters: The book is a story about two little mice, sniff and scurry, and two little humans, Hem and Haw. Sniff, who sniffs out change early; Scurry who scurries into action; Hem, who denies and resists change as he fears it might lead to something worse, and; Haw, who learns to adapt in time after he sees

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Plot: The book is staged in a Cheese maze. Cheese representing all the things in life that we regard as needs and desires that will make us happy at any point in time; job, house, relationship etc. And the maze represents all the processes we engage in ‘chasing our cheese’. The little characters in the book move around this maze and adapt to situations according to their nature.

Naturally Sniff and Scurry quickly adapt to changes relating to availability and sustainability of Cheese while Hem and Haw naturally take longer to adapt. Actually, Hem doesn’t adapt at all and his friend eventually leaves him behind. Hem and Haw adapt less quickly to change than others because they are influenced by human ideology, justifications, emotions and rationalisation that the two ‘mice’ are oblivious to, hence fast adapting to change.

Principles: The book has several principles highlighted throughout the plot that I will expand to reflect the general realities of change that we all encounter and need to adopt to be able to sniff out change and scurry into action, instead of hemming and hawing all over the place.

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Having cheese makes you happy: We all have things we would like in life and we are convinced they are what make us happy people.

The more important your cheese is to you the more you want to hold onto it: The higher the value we place on the things we find important at a particular point in time, the more reluctant and resistant we will be at the prospect of letting go of those things.

If you do not change, you can become extinct: When we fail to adapt to changes in life, we can end up completely losing ourselves and everything we value and have nothing else to hold on to.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? We should always ask ourselves what we could achieve if we confronted fears that hold us back from making the necessary changes in our lives and moving forward.

Smell your cheese often so you know when it is getting old: Always remember to audit your life so that you are aware of impending changes.

Movement in a new direction helps you find a new cheese: You cannot change without action. You have to act towards change.

When you move beyond your fears, you feel free: Once you confront your fears, you feel free and energised to take on new challenges.

Imagining myself enjoying the cheese, even before I find it, leads me to it: Think about what you can achieve and what is to come instead of brooding on what has been lost and passed.

The quick you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese: You cannot achieve the goals needed for a new change while holding on to past losses.

It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless station: It is better to act than remain stagnant in a situation that is futile.

Old beliefs do not lead you to the new cheese: We need to refrain from being rigid and sticking to old beliefs.

When you see that you can find new cheese, you change course: We need to be open to changing our strategies when we see that we can achieve new things and win with change.

Noticing small change early helps us adapt to bigger changes that are to come: Being observant of little changes and taking little progressive steps makes dealing with a bigger change easier.

It is no longer survival of the fittest; now the ones who survive are those that adapt to change quickly in a fast moving world.

I rest my case.

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