April 4, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…
Time to “pivot.” I have recently seen a number of business and strategy leaders on LinkedIn using the word “pivot” to represent the concept of companies and employees quickly adapting to meet the ever-changing needs and economic uncertainties of our current time.
It reminds me of the concept behind the book, “Who Moved My Cheese,” by Spencer Johnson. This book has long been a “Change Management” staple in the business world and is often used to help employees and company leadership understand the need for and benefits of quickly adapting to change. However, the lessons contained within this book are applicable to any person going through any type of change.
There are four main characters in “Who Moved My Cheese”: Sniff and Scurry (the mice), and Hem and Haw (the humans). The whole book is a simplistic illustration of the typical ways people adapt to change. In “Who Moved My Cheese,” change is personified as a wedge of cheese that, for a great deal of time, sits in the same location of a maze in which the characters live. The mice and the humans come to depend on, expect and feel entitled to the cheese being in the same place every day.
One day, however, the cheese is gone. The rest of the book chronicles how the mice and the people deal with the cheese’s disappearance (change). Sniff and Scurry, as their names denote, loose little time thinking about the fact that the cheese is no longer in the same location. They do not bemoan the fact that the cheese is gone nor do they feel angry or entitled. They do not blame each other for the missing cheese. Rather, they quickly leave–or pivot–in search of new food.
Hem and Haw, on the other hand, continue to go back to the location where the cheese once sat. They become frustrated, blaming each other for the cheese’s disappearance. They did not notice that because four characters were daily eating the cheese, the cheese was getting smaller. When the cheese is finally gone, they are shocked and angry and bewildered. They did not recognize the warning signs and did not prepare for a loss of their cheese. As a consequence, it takes Hem and Haw significantly longer to accept the change and start looking for new cheese. At one point, they are in danger of starvation because they refuse to accept that the cheese is gone and they need to find new cheese.
As I’m reflecting on our current time and the massive amount of change we are experiencing, I realize that I personify all the characters of “Who Moved My Cheese.” In the beginning, whenever a new change, issue, or situation presents itself, I am typically very quick to assess my options and pivot; like the mice in the book. I almost think I like being the first to accept the change and adapt.
However, when I see that change is not happening the way I think it should or is occurring slower than I think is reasonable, I can often become indignant that other people are not changing as quickly or are digging in their feet, or I become angry with the bureaucracy holding things up, etc; thus, morphing into Hem and Haw, the people in the book.
After a great deal of distress followed by a good dose of self-flagellation and hopefully self-reflection, I can then typically and slowly accept the pace at which change is happening and accept that everyone goes through change differently–in their own way and in their own time.
My Pivot: This is not a pretty picture I paint of myself, I realize, but it, unfortunately, is the truth. A key benefit of reading books like “Who Moved My Cheese,” is that it helps me and hopefully other readers understand how I/we deal with change. Once a person knows how they go through change, they can alter their course and actions. I am now more aware of what I do when going through something new. My next goal is to shorten or alleviate the part where I go back to “Hemming” and “Hawing” during the change.
I would be so much stronger mentally if I could realize I’m going to have some frustrations and that’s okay…and that I need to be patient with the people around me, leaders in our schools, and leaders in our government to come along. I realize it’s not common to quickly adapt to change and get moving. I need to also realize I’m an outlier and because of that, I need to help others gently through this personal change (as I do in a professional environment), rather than becoming frustrated with the slow pace.
If any of these struggles sound like you, I highly recommend reading “Who Moved My Cheese.” It’s a quick read, suitable for all ages and, hopefullly, you’ll learn something about yourself in the process like I did.
There can be such opportunity in going through change. It forces us beyond our comfort zone and can result in learning new skills or ways of doing things. Most importantly, go through difficult times can help us build confidence, endurance, and perseverance.
#alonetogether #changeisgood #hopeinsuffering #thisiscoronalife