Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson | Summary, Themes, Synopsis & Characters

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“Who Moved My Cheese?” is a motivational book written by Spencer Johnson, originally published in 1998. The book describes the narrative of four individuals who dwell in a maze and rely on cheese to survive. The four characters are two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two “little people,” Hem and Haw.

TitleWho Moved My Cheese?
AuthorSpencer Johnson
GenreSelf-help, Business, Motivational
Publication DateSeptember 8, 1998
PublisherG.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages94 pages

Who Moved My Cheese Characters

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson features four main characters, two of whom are mice and two of whom are “little people” the size of mice. Each character represents a different approach to dealing with change:

  1. Sniff – This mouse has a keen sense of smell and sniffs out changes in his environment quickly. He is always alert and ready to move with the cheese.
  2. Scurry – This mouse is always on the move and scurries around quickly, looking for new opportunities and cheese.
  3. Hem – One of the “little people” who is first resistant to change and prefers to do things the old way. He is a character that is terrified of the unknown and is hesitant to explore new things.
  4. Haw – The other “little people” who finally learns to adapt and discover other cheese sources. He depicts the character that is open to new opportunities and prepared to learn from his mistakes.

Who Moved My Cheese Themes

The major themes of “Who Moved My Cheese” are:

  1. Change – The book discusses that change is an inherent part of life that people must adjust to in order to thrive. Characters that successfully adapt to change flourish, but those who fight change become trapped in the past.
  2. Fear – Fear is a fundamental barrier to change and the book emphasizes that individuals must conquer their fear of the unknown in order to progress. Characters who are immobilized by fear miss out on possibilities for development and progress.
  3. Flexibility – According to the book, individuals must be flexible and eager to change to changing surroundings. Characters that are open to new experiences and approaches have a better chance of success.
  4. Resilience – The book emphasizes the need of resilience in dealing with change. Characters who persevere in the face of adversity eventually triumph.
  5. Attitude – The book highlights the need of keeping a good attitude when coping with change. Characters that approach change with optimism are more likely to succeed.

Who Moved My Cheese Summary

A class reunion is held for a group of classmates. They discuss their lives till now, as well as how they have dealt with crises and difficulties at home and at work. One member, Michael, explains how the company he worked for was on the point of collapse until he heard an event that transformed his perspective and helped him turn things around.

Years ago and far away, two mice and two very little people coexisted in a huge Maze, looking for cheese. Sniff and Scurry, the mice, discover a large store of their favourite cheese; nearby, the “Littlepeople,” Hem and Haw, discover a large stash of “Cheese,” in their case, the things in life that people crave. They all take their seats to savour the abundance.

The mice leave their running shoes nearby and check the station on a regular basis for any changes—cheese going bad or running short—while the humans put their shoes away, slip on slippers and just enjoy their pile of Cheese.

One day, both kinds of cheese are depleted. The mice, seeing it coming, put on their running shoes and began searching the rest of the Maze for more cheese. Sniff detects the presence of a new supply and races to the location. They soon discover a large stockpile of cheese and proceed to devour it.

Meanwhile, Hem and Haw are astonished that their comfortable existence has come to an end. Hem is mad, believing that others have moved the Cheese. Hem feels they have a right to their Cheese and should wait for the others to return it. Haw isn’t so sure, and wonders whether they should look elsewhere for fresh Cheese. Hem will not budge. After several hungry days, Haw eventually ventures out, afraid and alone, to search the Maze for more Cheese, realising that the Cheese will not simply return.

Haw promptly finds chunks of Cheese here and there. Despite his fears and disbelief, Haw finds the hunt to be an exciting adventure rather than a calamity. As new insights emerge, Haw scribbles them on the Maze’s walls, hoping that Hem will eventually step out and use the notes as guides.

One day, Haw discovers the massive Cheese stockpile where Sniff and Scurry now reside. Haw sits in, overjoyed, but keeps the jogging shoes handy in case this supply of Cheese runs out. Haw also checks the Cheese station on a regular basis, looking for damp cheese or other indicators of problems. Haw wonders if Hem will ever venture out to hunt more Cheese, and if the notes on the wall will aid Hem’s search.

When the pupils hear this story, they discuss how it might apply to their own lives. Michael is happy that they embrace the parable and hopes they will share it with others.

Who Moved My Cheese Synopsis

“Who Moved My Cheese” is a bestselling self-help book by Spencer Johnson that uses the story of two mice and two “little people” to teach readers about the importance of embracing change.

The story begins with the mice, Sniff and Scurry, and the two little people, Hem and Haw, who all live in a maze and depend on finding cheese to survive.

One day, they discover that the cheese has moved, and while Sniff and Scurry quickly adapt and continue to search for new cheese, Hem and Haw resist change and become stuck.

Through this tale, Johnson highlights the benefits of anticipating and adapting to change, rather than resisting it, in both personal and professional settings.

The book encourages readers to let go of their anxieties and welcome new chances, navigating the ever-changing terrain of life with the power of positive thinking and adaptability.

Who Moved My Cheese Quotes

Here are some of the most popular quotes from the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson:

  • “The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it.”
  • “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
  • “Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.”
  • “Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.”
  • “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.”
  • “Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”
  • “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”
  • “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”
  • “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.”
  • “Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.”

Who Moved My Cheese FAQs

What is “Who Moved My Cheese” about?

It’s a story about two mice and two little people who deal with change in their lives.

What is the main lesson of the book?

To achieve success, the book advises readers to accept change, be adaptable and adjust to new circumstances.

What does the cheese represent in the book?

The cheese represents everything we desire in life, whether it’s a job, a romance or something else.

How does the book suggest we deal with change?

The book suggests we should anticipate change, monitor it, adapt quickly, and enjoy the process.

What age group is Who Moved My Cheese?

The book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson is suitable for readers of all ages, including adults and teenagers.

Is Who Moved My Cheese still relevant?

Yes, Who Moved My Cheese is still relevant as its lessons on change, adaptation, and resilience are timeless and applicable.

About the Author-Spencer Johnson

Full NameSpencer Johnson
Born24 November 1938
Place of BirthWatertown, South Dakota, United States
DiedJuly 3, 2017
OccupationAuhtor, speaker, and management consultant
Famous Works“Who Moved My Cheese?”, “The One Minute Manager”

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