6 Lessons from "Who Moved My Cheese"

Cory Mazure | 1 Jan, 2022

Providing Context

When I was first recommended to read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese,” I was skeptical, to say the least. The title threw me off and after a few pages, I was unsure how any of this related to making money. Throughout the book, I was able to pick up on the main ideas at play and have broken them down through this article to help you apply these philosophies to your life to help you make better action-oriented decisions. The general premise of the book is that there are mice and miniature people in a maze and they are looking for cheese. The cheese represents what we desire in life, whether that be improved health, relationships, or financial freedom. The maze represents where we spend our time looking for these different cheese metaphors. There are 4 characters, who each represent different characteristics that we may have experienced within our lives. The mouse, sniff, represents the characteristic of finding change early, while the mouse, scurry, represents jumping into action when opportunities present themselves. The human character, Hem, represents resistance to change and fear of the unknown, while Haw, represents adapting after analysis of alternative options. Now that we understand the characters and the context, let’s jump into what happens in the book.

Striking Gold

Early in the book, the 4 characters browse around the maze and eventually find a large pile of cheese. This pile of cheese is huge and each character knows that this pile will keep them satisfied for a long time. The human characters, Hem and Haw, were content with this cheese and did not put in any additional effort to find more piles of cheese. As you might expect, the cheese eventually ran out. The characteristics of the mice allowed for them to realize that they would have to look for more cheese eventually, and were quick to do so once their previous gold mine had expired. Unfortunately, Hem and Haw did not see it this way. They were blind to the fact that their cheese supply was dwindling and when it ran out, were in denial. They stood around complaining about losing their cheese instead of doing something. It carried over into the next day, where they continued to complain and even went as far as to feel entitled to the cheese pile that no longer existed. 

The actions of Hem and Haw represent those who are in their comfort zone. They are afraid of change and uncertainty and try to cling to what used to give them good results. Eventually, Haw came to his senses and realized he had to make a change to get results. He left Hem and wandered into the unknown to find more cheese. Haw was able to learn that you need to expect change and look for alternative routes to success. In his journey for a new pile of cheese, Haw made several realizations.  

6 Lessons

“Smell the cheese often, so you know when it is getting old” 

In the book, if the characters realized their supply was draining, they would have been willing to change and look for more cheese. With this quote, the key takeaway is to be aware of the environment and realize that you can not stay in your current comfortable position forever. A good recent example of this is with the reselling market over the last year. In the holiday of 2020, the new Xbox and Playstation gaming systems were being released. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were supply chain issues that limited the production of these devices. Because of this, demand was much higher than supply. With the high demand, there was a market for buying and reselling these devices for a few hundred dollar profit. This flipping market was a gold mine when the devices were first released if you followed the right Discords and Twitter accounts to be aware of release times. If you had the capital, you could make a large profit off buying and selling these devices. Looking ahead, it was clear that this strategy was not going to last forever. You could see that the supply chains were going to recover and that online retailers would develop systems that would reduce the possibility of someone botting and getting multiple consoles. At a certain point, the effort to try and buy and resell these consoles was not worth the reward, and other cheese opportunities were more appealing. Keep this idea in mind and try to apply it to your pursuits so that you are staying ahead of the game and applying your time well on new, cheese plenty ventures. 

“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”

Using the previous example of buying and reselling consoles, this concept can also apply. If you are married to the idea of an old cheese stream as it has worked in the past, it can act as an inhibitor for new cheese streams. Doing your research and determining where your time is best spent is important so that you do not get stuck getting less return on investment for your time. 

“What you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine. The fear you build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.”

This quote is very applicable, not just in the category of making money. It seems to almost be human nature to possess limiting beliefs. I have often found myself fearing change or feeling incapable of conquering the unknown. What has helped me get through these mental barriers is reading books like this one, and doing journaling exercises. Without fail, every time I put pen to paper and write about what I am afraid of, I am able to conquer the fear by coming up with a plan of action. I highly recommend the practice of journaling and reflecting on your fears. 

“It is safer to search in the maze than to remain in a cheeseless situation” 

This one might sound obvious, but we often find ourselves stuck with nothing and still fearing the pursuit of something. I can recall many times in the past where I was not pursuing an opportunity, whether that be a financial or relationship opportunity, and felt scared that a step outside of my comfort zone would lead to a failure and waste of my time. This mindset needs to change as the pursuit of new opportunities will lead to experience gain and the potential of something great. What do you have to lose? If you are in a cheeseless situation it is not like you are giving up one opportunity for another. So try it, go out and pursue more cheese!

“Old beliefs do not lead to new cheese” 

Sometimes we need to think outside the box and pursue ventures that we are not comfortable with as this leads to the most growth. If you stick with what you know for the rest of your life, you are limiting yourself immensely as you are unaware of all the additional opportunities that are on the table. To me, this quote helped me realize that I need to challenge some of my previously held beliefs. This is a hard one to put into practice, but the best way to do it is to just get your feet wet in something you haven’t experienced before and be open to these experiences reshaping your beliefs. Try to learn from others, and do not shut down something new because it goes against what you thought you previously knew.

“The biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself, nothing gets better until you change”

Saving the best for last, this quote spoke the most to me. At the end of the day, the one thing holding you back is yourself. You need to change your mindset and be on the lookout for change. It is easy to fall into the comfort zone, but that will lead to not capitalizing on potential. Being comfortable with pivoting often and changing course is a necessity for staying relevant and aware of what opportunities are worth pursuing. 

Putting it All Together

In the end, Haw ends up finding another pile of cheese and catching up with the 2 mice. From his journey, he was able to learn to be more change-oriented and promised himself not to make the same comfort decisions as the first time he found a pile of cheese. From this, we can learn to stay hungry, even in the presence of success. Hopefully, some of these ideas resonated with you as much as they did with me. 

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