How to deal with change

Hem and Haw

I just finished reading a book titled, Who Moved my Cheese ? Its a very short and simple book, it took me about an hour to read it. Its very simple but a powerful read. There are 4 characters; Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. Sniff and Scurry are mice and Hem and Haw are Littlepeople who look kinda like people but are the size of mice. They all live in the Maze, and they all look for Cheese. The maze is an analogy for what ever you want it to be, your career, your persoal life, your relationships, etc. the Cheese is an analogy for money, your spouse, etc. you get the idea.

Every day the 4 characters leave their houses and run out into the Maze looking for Cheese. Their names have almost literal meaning. Scurry runs out into the maze and up and down all the corridors looking for his Cheese, he runs fast, but he needs a little direction, this is where Sniff comes in, Sniff uses his nose and chases the Cheese in a more methodical way, he sniffs and when he hits a dead end, he makes a note of it and sniffs his way into another area. He keeps going slowly with the help of Scurry until they find some cheese. They don’t over complicate things, they just go until they find their Cheese. They have jogging shoes, and they wear them until they find the Cheese, then hang them on their neck in case they need to put them on again. Each day they roam the Maze for Cheese and then return home at the end of the day.

Hem and Haw are more complex than Sniff and Scurry, they have emotions and beliefs that they follow and sometimes can get in the way of finding their Cheese. In the beginning they are the same as Sniff and Scurry, they put on their jogging shoes, go out into the Maze and look for the Cheese. They find cheese here and they are make note of it. They make maps and use tools to always look for new Cheese. Eventually All 4 characters find their way to Cheese Station C. Cheese Station C has more than enough Cheese for all of them for a long time, it is a huge pile of Cheese and looks like it could never run out.

Even after finding the Cheese Station, Sniff and Scurry continue their way of doing things, they are mice after all, they leave their houses, go out into the Maze and find Cheese Station C, eat their Cheese and go home. Hem and Haw are a little different, they move their houses right next door to the Cheese station, and they dont have to go out into Maze anymore, they wake up, walk right next door and have their cheese. They build their life around the Cheese, add rooms to their houses, invite friends over to share the cheese sometimes. They dont know where the Cheese came from or how it got there, but the most important thing is there is a lot of it. Hem and Haw get very comfortable and never go out into the Maze anymore,

One day all 4 characters show up to Cheese Station C and there is no more Cheese. Sniff and Scurry look around, realize the is no cheese, and don’t waste any time heading back out into the maze too look for new Cheese. Hem and Haw are just flabbergasted that there is no Cheese. Who moved it ? Why would they do that? What they didn’t see what that the pile of Cheese was slowly getting smaller because they ate some everyday, and it never got replaced. Hem is adamant that someone moved it and is playing tricks on them, and that the Cheese will come back someday. He gets angry and blames everyone else for the Cheese being gone. Haw reluctantly goes along, but after he starts thinking about his situation a little harder, he realized that someone didn’t move the cheese, actually they just ate it all, they Cheese pile got smaller and smaller, started getting moldy and eventually it was gone, and no one was going to replace it. Hem on the other hand , keeps holding out that the Cheese will come back, Haw wants to go back out into the Maze and look for more, it has been a long time since he was out in the Maze, he had grown fat and comfortable next to Cheese Station C, and at first he didn’t want to admit that the Cheese was gone, but after a while he realized that the Cheese is not coming back and he has to go look for more. After his realization, he tries to convince Hem to come out with him to look for new Cheese. Hem will have no part of it, he is going to stay with Cheese Station C until more comes, and he is not going to go back into the maze.

Haw goes back out into the maze, at first it is difficult, its been a very long time since he left the Cheese Station, he could hardly remember what it was like, at first he moved slow, and cautious, but he found a rhythm after a bit and started to remember what it was like. He found bits of Cheese here and there, but not much. One day he found some and took it back to Hem. Look Hem, there is new cheese out there ! Come out and try some. Hem refused, he didn’t want this new cheese, and refused to even try it. Hem was weak from lack of Cheese, but refused to try the new Cheese, still hoping that New Cheese would appear at Cheese Station C.

Haw left Cheese Station C, and went back out in the maze, he was actually starting to like it out in the Maze, it was a new adventure around each corner, he went to parts of the Maze he had never been before.

Eventually Haw found a new Cheese station, Cheese Station N. Sniff and Scurry were already there, and it looked like they had been there a while. There was enough Cheese to go around for a long time. Haw learned a lot, he learned that he is going to pay closer attention to the writing on the wall, and not get too comfortable at his New Cheese Station. He is going to pay attention to the details, and be prepared to go out in the Maze again if he has too, he will not wait until he Cheese is moldy or gone. He is going to keep him self in shape and be ready and embrace change.

This book has a very simple story, but after you read it, you will notice you have always known one of the characters somewhere in your life, whether its work, school, family. The lessons here can be applied to almost anything in life. You can read the entire story for yourself here Which characters are you ?