This book review blog post features affiliate links – the small percentage granted to The Self Leadership for purchases made through these links supports the work The SLI is doing to empower more self leaders in the world and only products/suppliers that align with the founding principles of The SLI would ever be promoted.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and I Moved Your Cheese by Deepak Malhotra are two powerful change management books all self leaders-in-the-making need to read. Both books are based around characters in a maze; this maze represents life and the cheese within it represents our goals. This conflation makes for a simple and accessible metaphor for all sorts of significant life changes that can occur. Evaluating, individually or as a group, which behaviours you are most likely to engage in when faced with real life change is a hugely important activity.
The thread that runs through all of the responses to change in this book is how important it is to be open to change and a need to be mindful of the range of behaviours other people can exhibit; others tackle change in different ways and we all need to be aware of this.
The key message this book gets across is that it doesn’t matter who moves your goal posts – change is inevitable – being prepared with a healthy behavioural response is essential.
Is it time for you to stop ruminating on your circumstances and take positive action?
Before you do, let’s explore the additional perspective added by Deepak Malhotra, who highlights the importance of questioning change.
The characters in this telling of the story accept that change is inevitable – it will happen at points in a lifetime – however, they do not blindly accept change. Powerful self leaders are inquisitive and work to find innovative solutions to situations considered unchangeable by others.
Max – refuses to accept that change happens without reason. He develops a sense of greater purpose: to find the sources of change and then take control of his own destiny, so he can change the things he doesn’t like about the maze. Max’s life becomes about the pursuit of knowledge and the ability to control his own destiny by escaping the ‘maze’ that was built for him.
Zed – considers change to be inevitable, but irrelevant, because his intrinsic happiness does not come from the pursuit of cheese. It is not about the mouse in the maze, but the maze in the mouse. Zed is able to walk through the walls of the maze because he has transcended the thinking of his captors; and ignores the constraints they have placed upon him.
Big – understands that happiness comes from spending time doing what you love, rather than always chasing a moving goal. It is this purpose that allows him to experience freedom in the maze; making the maze irrelevant for the most part. Only when his purpose is affected by change does he decide to do things differently.
The key message elucidated by this book is that changes to your goals will always be around the corner. Self leaders don’t let a love of, or dependency on, their current dreams stop them from seeing what else is out there.
Finding new passions and sources of happiness is an adventure, so always be ready to move when the ‘cheese’ does. Don’t be afraid to challenge change; be questioning. Always remember that your mindset is the maze inside you – and you have control over that.
+ A quick and digestable read
+ Simple metaphorical narrative of mice in a maze
+ Gets the reader thinking about their own responses to change
– Feels overly simplistic to experienced managers
– Promotes a ‘treadmill’ life of always running for cheese
+ Builds on the ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ narrative in more depth
+ Promotes greater personal control by not consistently reacting to change
+ Encourages people to question authority and circumstances
– Requires you to read ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ to make sense
– The metaphors are a little abstract and could be difficult to immediately apply to day to day life
– The discussion questions at the end are valuable, but may need additional facilitation to be effective
Ready to explore your own or your team’s response to change? The Self Leadership Initiative provides bespoke training and workshops to Charities, Universities and Corporates to empower more self leaders to take control of their mindsets and find innovative solutions to modern day mazes. Get in touch today to discover the difference having a team of self leaders could make for your organisation.