A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

I know an enormous amount about the early life of lots of famous people... and absolutely nothing about what happened to them after that. I haven’t made a study of it or anything, but it’s just that... 

I never seem to finish a book!

Go in to my study at home and you’ll find about a dozen books with a bookmark somewhere between a third and half the way through... many of them biographies. I think I must have a short attention span or something. And I’m exactly the same with films...

Do you know anyone else who chooses a film from the video shop by looking at the run time rather than the title? It’s true... I glance at the cover and then turn it over to see how long the film is. If it goes beyond about 100 minutes, it tends to go back on the shelf.

No point in getting me anything longer than that
because I just know I won’t make it to the end.

My relatives know this all too well, of course, which is why they’ve stopped buying me books. I’ve tried to explain that I actually enjoy reading the bits I do, but they can’t grasp the idea. To them, it’s just a waste, which I suppose I can understand.

Anyway they haven’t bought me a book for quite some time now... or rather they hadn’t until a few weeks ago.

I could see why they’d relented...

The book I unwrapped was just 100 pages in length, large type, and in fact the main story ran to no more than 50 pages. Even I couldn’t fail to make it to the end of this one...

And I didn’t fail!

It’s a book I’d heard of on many occasions, but for some reason, had never got around to reading. If you haven’t read it, I’d urge you to do so. As I said, it’s very short and only takes about half an hour to read. And it’s called...

Who Moved My Cheese?

The story follows the fortunes of 4 characters who live in a mythical maze, and spend all their waking hours in pursuit of cheese. Two of the characters are mice, and two are ‘little people’. They each have their own attributes and characteristics, and the story details how each of them reacts when they are suddenly faced with the loss of their cheese supply.

The cheese is merely a metaphor for whatever you’re looking for in life, and the maze represents the environment you’re operating in.

It’s a book about change... which sounds incredibly boring I know... but it isn’t. I reckon anyone reading it would get something out of it, and more than that, I think you could read it at different times, and depending on what challenges you were facing at the time, you’d get something different out of it.

One of the ongoing themes of the book is the change taking place within one of the characters called Haw. As Haw starts to realise that his old attitudes and beliefs are wrong, he scrawls what he’s learned on the walls of the maze, in the hope that his friend Hem... who is resistant to change... will read them and see the light.

I’m not going to spoil it for you by revealing all of Haw's messages... they’re best discovered as the story unfolds... but if you never get around to reading the book, I want to give you one of his most important pieces of advice. And it’s this...

“Smell the cheese often, so you know when it’s getting old.”

Now as I said before, everything in the book is a metaphor, and different people will attach their own meaning to it, depending on their circumstances. But for now, I want to think about this in a business sense (that’s what I do). When you do that, it throws up lots of interesting questions...

• Are your products and services still selling well, or is there evidence that sales are starting to wane?

• Are new products starting to make yours look dated?

• Is new competition starting to undermine your business?

• Is your advertising and marketing getting stale? Is it working as well as it used to?

• Are your employees as enthusiastic and motivated as ever?

You see, a big mistake that many businesses make is to assume that the things that work now will always work, that the products that appeal now will always appeal, that the competition that’s there will always be there, that the marketing that works now will always work...

In other words, they get complacent!

They never bother to smell the cheese... until it’s so damned rancid that it’s stinking the place out and impossible to ignore. But by then it’s inedible, and because they never saw it coming, there’s no contingency plan in place. And then there’s a very real danger that they will starve.

When Haw looks back on the disappearance of his cheese supply in the story, he comes to realise that the signs that something wasn’t quite right were there at a very early stage... but he’d never bothered to look for them. Times were good and he was living well. He’d worked hard to get his cheese and just wanted to enjoy it.

He just wanted things to stay as they were!

I think the very clear message that comes out of the book is that change is absolutely unavoidable and inevitable. It’s going to happen so it’s vital that you keep an eye firmly on the horizon so that you can see it coming well in advance, and take the appropriate action. Once you’re in the ‘thick’ of change... once it’s forced upon you... taking optimal action is much harder to do.

Now I’ve got to be honest with you. I’m as lazy as anyone else, and because of that, I don’t really like change very much. (Most humans are resistant to change). It usually involves effort, uncertainty and hard work, none of which I find particularly appealing. But if I’ve learned one thing over the last 30 years or so in business (surely, there must be one thing!) it’s this...

It’s impossible to stand still!

Marking time simply isn’t an option. Without any doubt whatsoever, if you stand still, stay the same, and do the things you’ve always done, you’ll go backwards... and you’ll keep going backwards until you disappear into oblivion.

The only way to stand still... maintain your current level of success... is to move forward. And the only way to progress is to move forward even faster.

Go back just five years, and I was making a very good living with some excellent products. But if all I had was those same products today, I’d probably be eating in soup kitchens. I’m exaggerating a little but hopefully you get the point. I know very many people who have hit on a winning product or service, made a lot of money from it, and then sat back and assumed that it would always be that way.

But sooner or later (and usually sooner) they find out they are wrong.

This is a massive topic with scores of spin-off ideas and themes, but for now I’d urge you to do just one thing after reading this blog entry...

Go and take a long hard sniff at your cheese!

Chances are, you’re not going to like what you smell, but it’s not going to whiff any better if you walk around with a peg on your nose... now is it?

When you’ve actually read this book, it’s amazing how often its relevance jumps up and hits you. Just last night, I was watching a TV programme about the old Yorkshire mining villages, which have never recovered from the closure of the pits in the 1980s, mainly because the inhabitants have steadfastly clung to their identity as ‘miners’. It reminded me of two of the other messages which Haw scrawled on the maze wall... ”The quicker you let go of old cheese... the sooner you find new cheese.” and “Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.” I suppose we could argue indefinitely about the rights and wrongs of the disappearance of this particular ‘cheese’, but there can be little argument about how the inhabitants of the ‘maze’ needed to react, once it happened.

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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