Career Insight--and a Book Review

Posted by The Editors on December 12, 2011
Career Insight--and a Book Review

Our office has been passing around the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. I had read this book back in my senior year of high school but I didn’t give the story and its lessons much thought beyond acing the English essay I had to write. Now, five years later as I sat on the train for my hour commute home, I poured all of my attention into what turned out to be a very short and enlightening read.

At this point in my entry-level career, I was a skeptic. I didn’t expect the lessons from this book to apply to me or my work life, but I came to the quick realization that no matter where you are in your career (and in life) this book can and will apply to your situation. It shows you how to approach change in a way that will help you grow and find success.

For those who don’t know the cheese story, here’s a summary provided by

Who Moved My Cheese? is a parable that takes place in a maze. Four beings live in that maze: Sniff and Scurry are mice—nonanalytical and nonjudgmental, they just want cheese and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Hem and Haw are "littlepeople," mouse-size humans who have an entirely different relationship with cheese. It's not just sustenance to them; it's their self-image. Their lives and belief systems are built around the cheese they've found.”

The cheese is a metaphor for all the things we pursue in life, but most will relate it to our jobs, career paths, and even our relationships. The story follows all four characters in their search for cheese while pointing out the traits that are either helping them move forward or stalling them in their search. (During the story, a helpful exercise would be to identify which character you most resemble so you can learn from his strengths and weaknesses.)

There are many career lessons one can take away from this book, but the one I found most important and most relevant is that since cheese is always changing and moving in different directions, we need to change with it in order to grow and prosper. And what happens when the cheese runs out? Survival Basics 101: Time to put those running shoes back on and search for new cheese.

So what does this mean in terms of your job and/or career? Maybe your company is shifting gears and moving in a different direction. Instead of falling behind and complaining about how inconvenient this move is, it’s important to stay ahead of the game and change with your job and learn new concepts. The more you learn and grow in your field, the more marketable you’ll be in the long run.

Have you read Who Moved My Cheese? If so, what did you find to be the most important career lesson?

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