Reading time: 3 minutes
Today I will be reviewing “Who Moved My Cheese?” By Dr Spencer Johnson. This book regularly appears on lists as one of the best Personal Development books of all time – so as an ever eager student, I had to grab it to steal it secrets! Let’s dive in shall we?
Of Mice and Men
The book is only 95 pages long – so this can be read literally over a long train ride (which is fine by me). The book is really two stories in one: the book opens with a group of middle aged friends who after their high school reunion, get together to catch up with each other and see how they are coping with the everyday struggles of modern life. The friends talk about everything from shaky marriages, job layoffs and raising children and agree that they are all finding it hard to cope.
In the midst of the doom and gloom, one friend starts to tell a fairytale about four characters that lived in a tiny maze: two mice called Scurry and Sniff and two ‘little people’ called Hem and Haw. These little critter’s main job, was to run around the maze, eating cheese to stay alive. All four characters live at a place called Cheese Station C, where there’s a large stockpile of cheese. Now the mice, not having advanced brains and living off their instincts, started to notice that that she supplies of cheese was falling and leave to the station to find a new supply. The little people however have grown quite comfortable at Cheese Station C and built houses next to the cheese pile and thought that the cheese will last forever. When the cheese inevitably run out, the little people panic and lament over their lost cheese. Hem and Haw argue over what to do: stay and wait for more cheese to come or venture out into the dark cold maze, on the hope that they will find new cheese. But as they start to starve, they realise they haven’t got much time left and one of them makes a bold decision…
The main theme of the book is how, we as humans, deal with inevitable, unavoidable life changes and the cheese is a metaphor for what ever is important to us: whether it’s health, money, career or relationships. The four characters represent different responses to external change: people like Sniff sense changes way before they happen and people like Scurry represents the people who act proactively with the information and make changes happen. People like Haw represent those who are resistant to change and need to be persuaded to take action and Hems will not only resist but refuse to change at all. The fairytale aspect makes the lessons easy to understand & digest.
What I thought was a nice touch from the author was that when the characters made major decisions, they would sum it up in easy to remember quotes, that were placed in large pictures (yay!) that would be placed throughout the book.
Also, what’s interesting is how each of the high school reunion friends discuss the main ideas so that we, the readers, can see how we would apply them to our lives.
How This Can Help You
If you are going through a challenging time in your life which you have no control over, you will find the overall message really valuable and positive. Unfortunately bad things do happen which we don’t see coming and which we just have to deal. This book will give you the philosophies of how to handle these changes and will show you how to respond to them. In this troubled economy, where layoffs, downsizing and increased stress are more common than ever, I welcome any books that help us handle that better.
Also for coders, I thought the main message is really important as the industry is changing so quickly that we, like Sniff and Scurry, must daily monitor the changes & be ready to adapt with the marketplace or be left behind.
Guys to be honest, I’m really torn: don’t get me wrong I did like the book, but there were a couple things that did irritate me a little bit…
1) I found the books parable a little too childish for me… Humans are complex and will not only motivated by external things (money, status and power) but have internal motivations (purpose, joy, self-actualisation). Also it came across as too ‘American’ for me (sorry guys – I love you lot). It was at times too positive & motivational & it come across sometimes as a little patronising. (By the way, I’m a Brit & we can be miserable gits – blame the weather).
2) I didn’t like the analogy of mice and ‘little people’ in a maze. This sounded too close to the idea of the ‘rat race’ and in my humble personal opinion, feel that we have a lot more choices about what we do & when we do it. Besides I’ve had mice before & they are not friendly, lovely little creatures! You really don’t want mice in your home…
Score: 5.5 out of 10
If my mate had a copy to borrow, then I would take it but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it.
Thank you for reading. Are there are any books that you guys want me to review? As always dear people, please leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter @karlwebdev.
See you next Thursday!