Move with the Cheese: Stay Flexible.

"Who Moved My Cheese" by Dr, Spencer Johnson

I attended a wealth seminar this past weekend that changed my life. Fifty of us or so were gathered at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Orlando to hear from gurus with longevity in the Real Estate game speak to us about acquiring wealth, maintaining it long term, and leaving generational inheritance for our posterity. It ended up being way more than I bargained for, but if I were being completely honest it didn’t start out that way. I almost messed it up for myself by showing up with a self-defeating attitude.

For starters, the seminar had nothing to do with what I do for a living, seemingly anyway. I’m a mental health professional by trade and have transitioned into full time authorship/entrepreneurship more recently as a result of my hit book “The Hero in the Helmet: Colin Kaepernick.” I had never been interested in doing real estate before, much less, had I ever gone out of my way to take a class. Sales wasn’t my thing! I had told myself that for years, so what was this class possibly going to offer me? In my estimation, I was only here because two weeks before this moment, a total stranger paid my way to attend. Yes! You read that right, and I thought it’d be discourteous of me not to show up.

Two weeks prior, a friend of mine invited me to hear Shark Tank’s Kevin O’ Leary speak at the Bob Carr Theatre in Orlando. I accepted her invitation because I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself around the people you wish to become. I was going to glean as much wisdom from Mr. O’ Leary as possible, and hopefully put a bug in his ear about guest appearing on his hit show while I was it. Ha! To my dismay, I didn’t get to introduce myself or meet him afterwards because he had to make another appearance elsewhere. Unbeknownst to me though, what looked to me like an up-set was actually a divine set-up.

Wayne Gray would come out moments later to extend an exclusive offer to join his real estate team. This one time he was going to cut his package price in half and allow two people to join for the price of one. All of a sudden, I wanted to be a part of this. I can’t be sure if it was all the motivational speaking or the hype behind the new price, but for a few moments, I lent myself to the idea that I could be successful at real estate if I were given the proper tools and mentorship, only to be frustrated by the reality of my pockets! Who was I kidding? I couldn’t afford none of this. I turned to my neighbor on my left who had just come from securing Gray’s offer and joked with him to keep the disappointment that was bubbling inside of me erupt.

“If you need a companion for the upcoming class, let me know,” to which a resounding

“Sure. Let’s go” escaped his lips and startled me.

“Excuse me?” I responded.

“I believe you said if I needed a companion to let you know. This is me letting you know I need a companion” the older gentleman shot back. Ummm...what? B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Mr. Fair I found out his name was took down my information and emailed me the details of the upcoming class with my name as his registered guest companion. True to his word!

As I mentioned earlier, I showed up to the workshop thiis past Friday, half-defeated. If this was going to be another round of rich folks selling penniless people pipe-dreams, I thought to myself, I'm already over it! I had to catch myself and check my attitude that instance. If I had to get here this early, dress myself, beat my face, put on these heels, to drive 45 minutes away, AND pay these Florida tolls stationed every half mile (inserts eye roll) I was going to get something out of this. Periodt! I gave myself the clearance to be open and coach-able. Just then, our instruction Dino came out; “The first step to becoming a wealthy person is thinking like a wealthy person,” he declared. Confirmation much? As he continued to speak, it was as if he was directly speaking to me, penetrating the walls of self-defeat, disappointment, doubt, and skepticism I walked in the room with. I let myself relax and positioned myself to receive from him thereafter. Eight hours of jewels later, he assigned Dr. Spencer Johnson’s book “Who moved my cheese?” to us as homework for the next day. We were to read it and come to class prepared to discuss it.

Let me just go ahead and bless you right from the NEED this book! The lessons I gathered as a result of reading this body of work alone, was worth the entire experience.

“Who moved my cheese?” is a brilliant story about 4 characters: Two mice named sniff and scurry, and two human-like creatures named Ham and Hoa. The ‘cheese’ in this book can signify anything from relationships, jobs, money, health, etc, while the maze represents the places you look for these things. The book starts out at cheese station C where a considerable amount of cheese has been discovered by all four characters. Sniff and Scurry have sniffed and scurried their way to the cheese where it looks like an endless supply awaits them day after day. Early in the morning, every morning, they put on their tennis shoes and make their way to station C to indulge in their favorite cheeses. They do not get tired of this routine! Ham and Hoa, who have more complex brains than both Sniff and Scurry start out over-zealous but lose excitement in the process. Perhaps they get familiar or too comfortable, but pretty soon they stop waking up early, trade their sneakers for slippers, and suspend running to station C and slow-walk because they assume their cheese will be there waiting for them; until one day, they arrive and find no more cheese. “Who moved my cheese?” exclaims Ham in anger and disbelief.

While Ham and Hoa try their best to solve the mystery of the missing cheese, Sniff and Scurry get back to the maze to find a new station for cheese. See, Sniff and Scurry had been taking notice that the supply of cheese was decreasing day by day. They had anticipated a change was coming. They did not wait till the reserve dried up to look for another source, they moved with the cheese! Ham and Hoa; on the other hand, became unaware of their surroundings, even worse, they became complacent. Rather than getting back to the maze to find a new station for cheese like their rodent friends, they spend an unfortunate amount of time blaming, shaming, and justifying what happened to them. One day after the next, they show up at the same cheese-less station hoping that by some sort of miracle, cheese would rain like manna from heaven. It never came!

At the root of their misery, Hoa found that fear was the emotion crippling and keeping them from finding new cheese. When he finally came to that realization, he urged his friend Ham to get back on the maze together in search of new delight, but Ham’s heart had waxed cold. Bitterness, anger, and fear lead him to believe that he would never find cheese, and if by any chance he did, it would never be as good as the cheese he once had. Eventually towards the end of Hoa’s life, he is left to make a decision: stay with Ham or move along and find cheese. Hoa commits to the idea of change and returns to the maze. He realizes that while his fear is legitimate, that once thing is for the place he was, there was no cheese, but the idea that new supplies of cheese awaited him, was a possibility that remained to be discovered. In the end, Hoa finds cheese station N, along with Sniff and Scurry who now sported protruding bellies from all the new cheeses they discovered. Hoa learns that change is inevitable, and the likeliness that one will sink or swim is contingent on our ability to move with the cheese.

While the book seems to make Hoa out to be the protagonist, I am resolved neither to be Ham or Hoa. I do not wish to wait till the end of my life to bend, shift, and commit to decisions that I am well able to make today to secure my future. I desire to remain flexible, to sniff when change is on the horizon, and to scurry to take the necessary action at the opportune time. I am settled not to become resentful when life throws me unexpected curve-balls or serves me lemons. I’m rolling with the punches and moving with the cheese. You can find me in the maze!


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