These crazy times seemed to warrant a re-read of the classic book “Who Moved My Cheese?”  For those unfamiliar with Spencer Johnson’s fable, it’s the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two Littlepeople (Hem and Haw). The four happily find cheese in one part of the maze – until one day they don’t.

The book centers around the reactions to this development: Sniff and Scurry are quick to venture out into the maze sniffing for new cheese and scurrying to find it. The Littlepeople keep expecting their cheese to return until Haw eventually laughs (haw, haw) at how ridiculous it is not to acknowledge the change so he ventures out, while Hem stays back and hems around about how unfair the change is, refusing to alter his behavior.

Of course, the fable has a multitude of applications for today, when some are embracing the many changes the pandemic created how it will reshape the future – while others are waiting for “normal” to return, refusing to adjust their business model or expectations to accommodate the new reality.

But what resonated most with me was the line: “Imagining yourself enjoying your New Cheese leads you to it.” Haw realized “the more clearly he saw the image of himself enjoying New Cheese, the more real and believable it became.”

It’s a curse that our mind often defaults to bad things where there is a change or unknown circumstance, but we have the power to fill the void with positive visions instead. Picture what could be with the old restrictions loosened. Imagine how you’d like it to be with previous policies or barriers removed. Create a vision board for yourself that makes your goal feel real and compels you to embrace the new instead of fearing it.

Your “new cheese” is out there; stop waiting and go find it!

Source: Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson, 1998.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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