Books June 16, 2018

19 Lessons I Learned From Reading “Who Moved My Cheese?” By Dr Spencer Johnson

I have read Who Moved My Cheese? about a couple of times. The first time was at the dead of night while I was bored. This happened about three years ago and it changed my life as I knew it.

The key to reading success literature is to read it every now and then. Recently, I entered a rut and I had this book in my bag for a while, so I decided to write about it and it has helped me far more than it did the first time.

Here are 19 lessons I learnt from reading Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson.

Lesson 1: The complexity in simplicity

Many times, the answer to what we need is a simple gesture, word etc. Yet we are held down and limited by a lot as humans. We rely on our complex nature and emotions and they themselves hold us back. Simplicity is complex to us humans but it is something we need to adapt to.

Lesson 2: Nothing is permanent

Good things, bad things, that Nigerian bus slogan ‘no condition is permanent’ is really true. That’s what Cheese Station C stands for. You won’t be in the same situation for the rest of your life. Deal with the flux and be ready.

Lesson 3: Expect the unexpected

Be prepared for the unexpected. Always live life with a series of backup plans. You might feel paranoid about this at first, but everyone knows how they feel when one plan falls through and a backup kicks in. Never get comfortable.

Lesson 4: Remain humble

Kendrick Lamar wasn’t lying when he told everyone to behave. When your achievements start to guide your attitude towards people. Like a bad Nollywood movie expect that pride comes before a fall. Arrogance makes you lose sight of what you have. It might be the value of the position of your job or the relationships you have with people.

Lesson 4: Change with the times

And here lies the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?”. The answer to that question is no one. Everything is subject to change, nothing lasts forever and you have to be prepared. This situation you find yourself in is not permanent, so you have to be ready and put in place lessons 1,2 and 3 to help you achieve lesson 4.

Do not spend too long on the problem or situation at hand. Find a solution that works and move on as quickly as possible.

Lesson 5: Nobody owes you anything

This mindset is a double-edged sword. Going on with life believing that nobody owes you anything keeps you on your toes. You do not expect anything from anybody and you act based on the resources available to you. On the other hand, you deserve fair treatment, but in a situation where life throws lemons, make the best lemonades.

Lesson 6: Be relentless

And when the tides change, swim as hard as you can, as fast as you can, till you reach the shore. Go hard at finding your new cheese. Keep working hard on the next big thing. Your perseverance and relentlessness will pay off. It always does. Life is not going to just give you what you want as soon as you work for it. But you will definitely reap what you sow.

Lesson 7: Don’t stay down for too long

It’s okay to get lost in the sauce but don’t get burnt. It’s okay to want what you had or wonder where it has gone to. But, don’t allow that kind of thinking weigh your plans towards moving on.

Lesson 8: There’s a difference between activity and productivity

Hem and Haw on page 42 did the most ridiculous thing ever. They looked for cheese they knew wasn’t there. It’s like those moments when you are looking for your car in a car park and start looking under other cars. You know’ it’s not there, what are you doing? You can be buzzing around and not be productive. Your activity doesn’t translate to productivity if the intention doesn’t yield positive value.

Lesson 9: Don’t take yourself seriously

It might look like a dire situation but don’t take yourself seriously. Why? So you can be able to laugh at the situation and do the needful. Be like Haw, laugh at yourself, let go and move on.

Who Moved My Cheese

Bookmark by Hearts and Frames

Lesson 10: Do it afraid

Don’t be afraid to start again. Even when you’re not sure of where you might be headed and what you might achieve, don’t be afraid to get up and change the times in your favour. In short, do all those things afraid and use that fear to your own advantage. Most of the fears you have in life, you’d find out is irrational.

Lesson 11: Analyse your environment

Sometimes, the change that you feel is unexpected has been staring you right in the face. You must constantly watch the times to know when and what will disrupt. It might very well have to do in the industry you work with or the times you live in. That analysis will make you more than ready to adapt to the times.

Lesson 12: Life is better outside of your fears

“The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists’. Haw started to feel great after he left Hem in Cheese Station C for the second time. Why? He was happy to leave his fears behind and head in the direction of what he actually wanted – new cheese.

Lesson 13: Envision Nirvana

While change is happening and everything seems bleak. Envision the best place, the best life, the best CHEESE! This visual representation will motivate you on this journey.

Lesson 14: You are the KEY to change

Even when the whole world tells you how to change, if you refuse to change then nothing will happen. It all starts and begins with you.

Lesson 15: Be ready to repeat the cycle

Just like a hamster in a running wheel, be ready to have a go at change every now and then. It comes in different phases and with different faces. You need to be ready to adapt to the change, enjoy the change and get ready to move with the change.

Lesson 16: Your comfort zone is a myth

Even when you have found ‘new cheese’, scout for more, have options. Keep yourself on your toes. The end could very well mean a new beginning.

Lesson 17: Denial

This will keep you locked in believing what you think you know. Sometimes we are quick to spot the change in others but not in ourselves. Why? Because a large percentage of us live in denial and that’s even worse than the fear of changing.

Lesson 18: Keep learning

Sometimes our old beliefs and values will keep us locked down. After listening to a story like this, we need to learn from it as simple as it might sound. Learn and keep moving with the cheese.

Lesson 19: New Cheese can be Old Cheese

Sometimes we don’t have to throw away completely what we have in the name of change. In a relationship, instead of ending the relationship, how about you throw away old behaviour to start a new one? In a workplace, instead of heading out to a new job, change the way you are doing the same job.


You can buy the book here or watch the movie on YouTube below.

This how I see the characters in this book.

  • Hem – Chief of the comfort zone
  • Haw – Drowned by his fears but liberated in the end
  • Sniff – Quick to sniff out new opportunities and change
  • Scurry – Goes into action quickly

Which one are you?

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