Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

My dear sister gave me this book after I mentioned wanting to read it while visiting her Raleigh home two weeks ago. Who Moved My Cheese: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in You Life is a short book with a tall order inside. I knew I wanted to read it after hearing it recommended by two people whose opinions on good books I respect.

Physician Spencer Johnson tells a little story about two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two small (mouse-size) humans named Hem and Haw. I'll paraphrase it here. Our four characters find themselves ready to take on life. So, they set out in the maze of life in search of cheese (representative, of course, of whatever it is we're after in life). After a great deal of hard work, Sniff Scurry, Hem and Haw find an abundance of Cheese at Cheese Station C. All is well.

Hem and Haw hand up their work shoes and build luxury homes with privacy fences next to the cheese station and get comfortable and complacent. Until, one day, there is no more cheese at Cheese Station C. That very day, Sniff and Scurry put back on their work shoes and venture out again in search of more cheese. They soon find it. What do Hem and Haw do? Well, they hem and haw for a while about being entitled and feeling victimized. Eventually, Haw musters up some motivation, dusts off his old shoes, and sets out back into the now unfamiliar maze. Hem stays behind, blathering and slowly withering.

After some time of wandering and finding small bits of cheese to last him, Haw finally, finally reaches the bountiful cheese storehouse of Cheese Station N. Sniff and Scurry are already there, and sadly Hem will never choose to leave Station C.

Johnson does a good job at making this little story delightful and obviously parallel to life's changes. The last pages of the book are a verbatim account of a helpful discussion group on the book. Various people in the group identify with the different characters' responses when the cheese is moved. It's a good little book that I'd recommend as a quick read with long-term lessons.

After finishing it, I noticed myself more motivated to adapt to the big changes in life when one day they come calling on me. Then I realized, "oh crap! I'm slap in the middle of a huge life change! I've just moved to the other side of the North American Continent to a place where my specific denomination (CBF) isn't even present, where there's no open jobs for full-time chaplains and we don't have any friends or contacts. Where did my cheese go?

So, how am I going to adapt? Well, I've got my work shoes on, and I'm heading out into the maze. I'm calling pastors and chaplains, setting up lunch meetings to talk about ministry opportunities in Anchorage. I've gotten a tour of the largest hospital in the area, and attended a meeting of volunteer chaplains for the police and firemen in the area. I've given out my resume to two HR folks so far. I'm in the maze.

And what is the outcome so far? Well, I don't know if it is a busting full cheese station or not; however, I have accepted an offer to come on as (once again) a resident chaplain at Providence Medical Center (the big hospital) for the next eight months. In that time I will complete two more units of CPE giving me a total of seven. This is in line with one of my long-term goals of becoming a CPE supervisor, and for now it is a paying job during which I will no doubt learn and blog a lot.

Who Moved My Cheese? I don't know, but I'm working on finding it.


Audrey said...

Congrats on accepting an offer. Good luck with more CPE - sounds right up your alley.

Erin Miller said...

Someday you will be moving other people's cheese and making them cry! Can't wait to hear about the program!

Vicki Hesse said...

your write up is very cheese-y. hee hee. your presence at that hospital will be such a gift for them and for all the folks seeking to heal from that "being in a hospital is a spiritual crisis" thingy. keep us informed - I, too, am curious about their program. good thing you are starting AFTER the christmas holiday planning time.

Robert L said...

OMG! Congratulations on the Chaplain job. You didn't tell us you got it. It must have been very recent. Loved your summary of the book. I read it a while ago and found it useful.

Other similar books you might like: 10 minute manager, Question Behind the Question.
Talk to you later.

Anonymous said...

Wow! First we knew about the job. Congrats! Momma T