I just read a short (only 94 pages), yet powerful little book full of leadership lessons: Who Moved My Cheese?. It is a good parable using two mice and two men who are in a maze and struggling to find enough cheese to survive.
Of course, cheese is not just cheese is this story. Rather, in this story it stands for anything you aspire for in your life. This includes your career, success, money, love, etc. Essentially, anything that you need to survive.
Leadership Lessons from Who Moved My Cheese?
The essence of Who Moved My Cheese? is about how people handle (or do not handle) change. It is a part of life and knowing how to cope is a necessary life and leadership skill.
The key to successful leadership is realizing that change is inevitable and actually a good thing. Employees will come and go, clients will come and go, and projects will come and go. The only way to ensure that a company survives is a leader who adheres to a clearly formulated and consistent vision. As it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day as a leader it is important to ensure that everyone is moving towards a long-term goal – no matter what change is thrown at you on the way towards it.
The sooner a leader understands that positivity and not anxiety is the key to dealing with change the sooner he can instill this belief in his employees.
Here are my notes from the book in the form of some cheese bites:
- Remember that old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese: Being complacent leads to extinction. Embracing change and being flexible as a boss leads to survival.
- Don’t over-analyze or over-complicate things: Keep the true and tried mantra of K.I.S.S. in mind. Too many leaders take too long to convey a simple message.
- Go past fear and enjoy the journey of finding new cheese: Embrace the thrill of the hunt, be curious, and push the envelope. This is your job as a leader.
- Let go of old behavior instead of letting go of the situation: A different viewpoint can often help a situation more than a change of scenery.
- If you don’t change you’ll become extinct: It’s ok to Pivot as needed, or else you’ll be caught without any options.
- Consider what you might do if you weren’t afraid: This is a key takeaway as fear holds you back and prevents you from moving forward.
- Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old: In life and in business timing is everything.
- Move beyond the fear and feel free: Don’t be afraid to be leader and take the first step.
- Imagine yourself enjoying the new cheese even before you find it: It’s important to visualize an end goal as it will speed up reality.
- Let go of old cheese quicker so you can find new cheese sooner: When it’s time to let go, be sure to let go.
- Notice little changes early and help yourself adapt to bigger changes later: While practice really can make things perfect , it is even more important to keep an eye out for early signs of change.
- Let go of the past
- Get over the things you cannot change
- Keep moving forward
- There is no reason to fear the unknown because the unknown may be better than anything you could have ever imagined
- Change (for an organization) has unlimited potential, but it all depends on how you deal with it
If you haven’t read the book, I recommend that you do. It’s a quick read and nothing beats good cheese!
I read this book by Spencer Johnson, M.D., many years ago when I worked in a leadership position at Remuda Ranch. I believe these principles relate to our “work” as grandparents raising grandchildren. Following these principles can make our journey so much more productive and life changing for all involved. We will often find ourselves asking, “Who moved my cheese?” We might ask, “What happened to the life I once had?” Those are human questions that we will find ourselves asking, and yet, they are not productive questions. The bottom line is, we have to let go of our past, and find a new future. Our future can be enjoyable, meaningful, fulfilling and full of new adventures. Embrace It!
Sharing the Cheese and the Journey!
Rich (Better known as “Pops”)