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Industry Literature: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

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A modern day fable for modern day business. Who Moved My Cheese is a short story by Spencer Johnson, management consultant and children’s book author, and is the #1 best selling title on Amazon of all time. The book takes about an hour to read. The main story — the one of 2 mice and 2 men — is an allegory to the lives we live and the character traits that control us as individuals. This is told as a story within the story, with the frame setting of the book being the gathering of a group of old friends, with one telling this story of Who Moved My Cheese, then ending the book with a discussion among the friends about the morals and applications of the tale.

The “lessons” of the book can be applied to most aspects of life. With the “cheese” as an analogy of our goals, the story suggests that we would all be better off if we can replace analysis with adaptablilty in the way we move about our lives. The 4 characters of the story each represent a distinct character trait: one is highly sensitive, one highly active, one highly stubborn, and the fourth an evolving character that’s probably meant for readers to relate to. The storyline gives great success to the duo of sensitive and active rats, and great struggle to the stubborn and overthinking men. In the end, the story posits that fear holds us back, and that we can be liberated towards greater potential if we can learn not to fear change.

As the story ends and the book cuts back to the frame setting of the group of friends discussing the lessons learned, the friends start having a discussion about which one of the 4 characters they are, and they come to unanimous agreement that being the one stubborn to change is the least effective. I would personally argue though, that this story isn’t meant to make us categorize ourselves as one of the 4 characters, but rather to make us aware that all 4 character’s trait is present within ourselves. Our sentitivities give us direction, our active energies give us the means to achieve our goals, our fears and values ground us and gives meaning to our lives, and our rationality and adaptability gives us the means to thrive. Learning how to wield and balance these four traits when faced with a situation should I believe be the ultimate takeaway from this book.

See you at the next exploration!

Harry

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