Street Smart Networking – Who Moved The Cheese by Robert Butwin

Robert ButwinBefore jumping right into the business of making money and making lots of it, let’s pause for a few moments for some brief self reflection. We’ll begin with a question:

How many road signs do you think you have driven past in your life as a licensed driver?  Thousands? Millions? Now, of all the road signs that you have driven past, how many of those do you think were yield signs? If you drive a lot, your number may be considerably higher than others. Even if you don’t drive, surely you have traveled enough as a passenger in a vehicle or a pedestrian to have taken some notice of the yield signs along your route of travel.

Considering all of those yield signs you’ve traveled past, do you think you would have any trouble describing the appearance of one?

Chances are, you think not, so let’s give it a try: can you describe what color a yield sign is?

Don’t just blurt it out and keep reading, instead, try to actually see the yield sign in your mind, in all its glory.  Take as much time as you need to create the image of the sign in your mind.  See its shape, its placement on the road, and finally, its colors.  So, what color do you envision a yield sign as?

If the image of the yield sign that you’re holding in your mind is yellow, then congratulations!  You’re one of the many people who have gotten this question wrong.  The fact is, yield signs haven’t been yellow for over 35 years; they’re actually red and white.

If you’re wondering what a yield sign has to do with your success, it simply serves to illustrate a point. The point is that even though you look, you may not always see.

If we apply this question of yield signs to life, and the opportunities that we are given in life, we have to wonder how many opportunities we have looked at, but failed to actually see. We have to wonder how many opportunities we have failed to take advantage of simply because we couldn’t see the potential of the opportunities we were faced with. Most people fail to see the signs that are right in front of their eyes. They fail to recognize when life changing opportunities present themselves or when changes occur around them that can affect their entire way of life.

The objective of this series of articles that you will read here in  is to make you aware of the different choices that are available to you and the changes that I’m sure you’re aware are happening all around you. As you become capable of seeing your options and recognizing that change happens all around you, you’ll be more capable of acting on opportunities you otherwise may miss.

If you remember nothing at all from this series of articles, remember this:

it does not matter where you start in life or where you are now, the key to the direction you’re headed is where you choose to end up.


In his bestselling book “Who Moved My Cheese”, Dr. Spencer Johnson uses cheese as a metaphor for the success and happiness of the story’s four characters, two mice, named Sniff and Scurry, and two miniature humans, named Hem and Haw; all four happen to live in a maze, a metaphor for life. When a supply of cheese is found in the maze, all four characters develop routines around their daily intake of cheese. As Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw go on living their lives with their usual daily routines; the supply of cheese slowly dwindles through regular consumption, and eventually disappears into nothingness. The mice, which are creatures of instinct, quickly leave the corridor to sniff and scurry through the maze on the hunt for their next supply of cheese. Hem and Haw, however, believing themselves to be more superior to the mice because they are capable of rational thought and maintaining belief systems, decide to stay in the now empty corridor because their deeply engrained beliefs tell them that going through the maze is easier than waiting for the next supply of cheese to appear out of thin air.

Hem, upon seeing his misfortune, immediately puts the blame on others, and demands to know who moved his cheese. He feels sorry for himself, curses his luck, and expresses to Haw that he is entitled to more cheese because it wasn’t his fault that the cheese vanished in the first place. Haw, upon realizing that sitting around and feeling sorry about their circumstances is benefiting no one, proposes that they set out into the maze to track down their next source of cheese. Hem is afraid and objects to the idea, choosing to believe that waiting, blaming others, and feeling sorry for himself is better than venturing back into the maze. He creates excuses for himself, claiming he is too fat, too old, and too afraid of embarrassment to go back into the maze.

Eventually, Haw grows tired of feeling sorry for himself and digs out his old jogging suit and running shoes (which were tossed aside when the two humans thought that they would be fed forever from the same supply of cheese) puts them on and leaves without his friend, setting off to explorer the maze. Haw finds a few morsels of cheese along the way; he eats some and takes a few back to Hem, who remained in the empty corridor. While appreciative, Hem maintains his fears and false beliefs, choosing to continue to go hungry rather than venture into the maze to find more cheese.

Haw, who is much more willing than his friend to cope with change, eventually stumbles upon a supply of cheese; a supply that Sniff and Scurry have already found and been nibbling on for quite some time. This supply of cheese, he realizes, is much better than his original supply. In this corridor, there are varieties of cheese, each with its own distinct smell and taste.

The more level headed of the two miniature humans realizes that, had he faced his fears sooner, he could have avoided several days of fear, uncertainty, and hunger. He also realizes that, before it vanished, there were signs that the cheese was going bad and that it probably wasn’t going to last very long. It slowly began not tasting as good as it originally did and, he suspects, was probably beginning to become moldy before he and his three other friends finished it all off.  Hem and Haw chose to ignore the signs that were right in front of them, which left them unprepared for the change that followed the disappearance of the cheese.

The story ends without ever revealing whether Hem found his way to the new source of cheese, but it does explain the valuable lessons about happiness and life that Haw discovered through his experiences, among those are:

–Your cheese is always going to move.

   Translation:  No job is permanent.

–Always be prepared in the event your cheese is moved.

    Translation:  Prepare yourself financially and mentally to deal with the potential loss of a job.

–The cheese should be smelled often so you knows when it is getting old.

   Translation:  Stay abreast of market changes, current company trends, etc.  Many who choose to ignore the signs that their job may be in trouble are often ill prepared to start the search for a new job or to start their own business.

–The quicker you let go of the old cheese, the quicker you can enjoy the new cheese.

Translation:  The more time you spend feeling sorry about losing your old job, the longer it will take for you to enjoy the rewards of a brand new one.

–Instead of waiting for new cheese to appear in an empty corridor, move with the cheese; seeking it out rather than waiting for it.

Translation:  Don’t sit around waiting for your phone to start ringing with job offers. Take proactive steps to create a new source of income that you and your family can depend on that allows you to live the lifestyle you want.

–Enjoy and savor new cheese when it is found.

Translation:  Once you’ve found that new source of income, take some time to enjoy it; but do so wisely. If you never get to enjoy the spoils of your work, you will quickly become unmotivated to keep working.

–Always move with the cheese.

Translation:  Never stop moving with and adapting to the changes that affect your life.   

In order to survive this world and achieve the goals that you actually want to achieve you have to realize, just like Hem and Haw eventually did, that the only constant in life is change. Change always happens, and when it does, it can throw a major wrench in the gears of your plans. The question is not whether change will ever happen to you, but how you will choose to react to it when it does happen.

When change happens, you can choose to dwell on your loss and how sad it makes you feel, or you can accept the change as your opportunity to start living for yourself and what you find important. Will you allow change to turn you into a victim, or will you use change to catapult you into a position of true success.

When change began to happen to the four characters in “Who Moved My Cheese”, the two mice wasted no time in chasing down another source of cheese, but the humans decided to become victims instead of problem solvers and were forced to experience hunger. It was the choice of the humans to experience hunger as soon as they decided that they were victims of their circumstances. The mice were able to discover cheese faster than their human counterparts because they wasted no time between the change occurring (running out of cheese) and adapting to the change (setting out to find more cheese). Even though Sniff and Scurry had been out of the maze just as long as Hem and Haw, they were fearless when it came to running back into the maze, no matter how many questions and uncertainties loomed in their heads and no matter how far back in the maze they would have to start to reach a place of satisfaction again.

My goal for sharing the information in this series of articles with you is to help you make better choices so you can lead the kind of lifestyle you deserve by being involved in your own business. Within these pages you will find practical and technical advice on how to make your business a success, from using the web to find partners and clients to programming your mind to reach the potential for success that I know you’re capable of.

You’ll learn practical business strategies, like social media marketing and branding, as well as principles of business wisdom, like mindset, influence, and the law of attraction.

Keep an eye out for this continuation of this series!


Robert Butwin helps people realize the only difference between them and results is the 6 inches between their ears

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