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Book Review: ”Who Moved My Cheese?”

Personal Development Youthly Notes

Book Review: ”Who Moved My Cheese?”


Who Moved My Cheese: An A-Mazing Way to Deal With Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Written by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Foreword by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D.
Co-Authors of The One Minute Manager

cover page - who moved my cheese?

book cover

I borrowed this book from one of the speakers at a Ramadan event. She came along with some recommended readings, and this happened to be among the huge pile she had with her. I picked it along with another title because it looked small enough to complete in a short time.

That was some great motivation knowing I can safely return it back to the owner in a short while thinking *guiltily* about my own pile of unread books.

And just as I thought, I completed the book in about one hour – which made it worth saving for reading after Ramadan.

In going along with the brevity of the book, I will make the review brief but hopefully beneficial. Just enough to get you thinking about your ‘cheese’. It is a good thing if you like cheese, because that’s what the story & entire book gets you thinking about.

The author utilised a storytelling approach to depict the human nature and typical attitude towards change. The 4 fictional characters represent our drives in seeking the easy path to success despite the changes we are faced with daily.


Who moved my cheese?, is divided into 3 sections.

The first is about a discussion among former classmates at a reunion.

The second section is the main story about four fictional characters; 2 mice and 2 littlepeople representing our simple and complex self – moving through the maze in search of ‘cheese’ (metaphor used by the author for what we want out of life; job, money, health, freedom, big house, spiritual peace, fame etc

Maze as used in this context could be the wider community, your relationships or work.

The last and third section covers a discussion by the classmates [from part 1] on how they can utilise the story in their own lives.

From the story, you can fall into one of four types of character in life.

So you either act like ‘Sniff‘ (with ability to sniff out change early), Or ‘Scurry‘ (always ready to scurry into action), Or ‘Hem‘ (deny & resist change due to fear) Or ‘Haw‘ (learn to adapt in time to positive change).

One of the appealing things about the writing is that it is of an open ended nature; you can interpret the story in accordance to your own life story and you can apply it to your life depending on your own context and situation.


The entire book is dotted with quotes about ‘cheese‘ illustrated in simple cheese chunks written from the perspective and experience of one of the little people – Haw.

Some of the quotes that stood out for me are [pg.74] :

* ”Anticipate Change. Get Ready for the Cheese to Move”;

* ”Be Ready to Change Quickly And Enjoy it Again & Again”;

* ”Enjoy Change! Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of New Cheese!”


This story can apply to the life of a believer in many ways.

As a Muslim your ultimate goal is always Jannah and you work for this through your goals – your ‘Cheese’. Yet you are aware of happenings and changes within and around you.

Whatever change – whether seemingly positive or negative – come to you, you should remain patient and accept it while not losing sight of your BIG goal, Jannah. Instead of complaining and wishing for something else, you always anticipate and embrace the changes. And in fact you can take it as form of worship in order to gain rewards from your Creator.

The Muslim seeks the ‘cheese’ for both worldly and hereafter success; not one without the other. In this way s/he finds spiritual, personal and professional fulfilment while navigating the twists and turns of life’s maze. At the end of the day what matters for the Muslim is that your ‘cheese’ leads you to peaceful soul, Allah’s Pleasure and ultimately Jannah.


I believe that the most constant thing in life is change. As such, one needs to be fully conscious and prepared to manage changes wisely.

Change is inevitable;
Change is necessary;
Change is what you make of it.

This important concept is captured in a favourite Qur’anic verse:

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves
Qur’an 13:11

As an educator, I look forward to giving the young minds an opportunity to transcribe this story into a creative format, suited to their own thinking and understanding – such as a play, poem etc


In a few words,

What I like about the book

– It is short and easy to read.
– Written in a parable/story form, with a humorous touch.
– I can relate easily to many of the principles embedded.

What I don’t like

– The story is too short; ended too soon.
– Endless ‘cheese’ talk & illustrations.
– Too simple & somewhat child-like, it makes you wonder why you never thought of writing the same story earlier.


So how do you respond to changes in your life? Do you often worry about ‘who moved your cheese?

photo credit: PabloBM via photopin cc


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  1. Umm Abdullaah August 16, 2014

    Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh,

    Excellent recommended reading. I hope many youth (even those at heart) read this book.
    Ironically, I just bought another copy for 1 of my teenage grandsons to read and read it to 1 of the others.
    I felt that it was time that they understood changes in life, as they’re about to embark upon their own changes.

    1. Amina Edota August 19, 2014

      Wa alaykum salaam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu Umm Abdullah,

      That’s an awesome gift – I recommend it to all… young & old, & in-between. And you are absolutely right, the teens surely face all kinds of changes which are new to them and challenging. I hope they find it a useful & humorous guide.

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