This is by far the most interesting short story I have read in the area of Personal Development. It came to me at a time so confusing in my life, torn between keeping a comfortable yet not fulfilling job and reaching out for something bigger. We all find ourselves at crossroads so many times in our life; be it professionally, in our relationships, or even simple things such as picking out a dress at the shop, or two similar products at the supermarket. We just never see it as such but it is. The uncertainty of making a choice because of the impending consequences, that unknown change that awaits us, is never a comfortable feeling. And yet we must take the necessary steps to change or it will be forced upon us.
Abraham Maslow said that we must step forward and grow or step back into safety and naturally, we always choose safety which is what we know. Whether it’s truly ours or not. Take a job, for example, it is not really yours, no matter how much you scream at whoever cares to hear. This is the ownership illustrated by Hem and Haw in the story, when they discover the abundance of cheese at Cheese Station C. They put away their running shoes and tools and claimed what they did not sow. Is it any different from us? Not at all. You can easily point out a Managing Director of a corporation who acts like he owns the business, oblivious to the fact that he can be let go in an instant. Employees at all levels are guilty of the same. ‘I humbly apply …..’ is the opening line in so many cover letters and yet when granted the job, we take ownership and forget our responsibilities, our role to play to keep our supply of cheese from running out.
Like Sniff and Scurry, we ought to invest in our own selves if we are to maintain a steady supply of cheese. While Hem and Haw, in their comfort, did not take note of the diminishing supply of cheese, Sniff and Scurry stayed alert, inspecting the cheese station first for any changes and thus, when the cheese run out, they were not surprised. But rather run off to find the next store of cheese. Their comfortable counterparts, on the other hand, were so surprised by the sudden disappearance of ‘their’ cheese, so much that Hem screamed out loud; “Who moved my cheese?” Read the story again, was it really his? Did he put it there? No! Do we act any different when something changes in our environment? No! We hate and we curse whoever and whatever led to the current state of our lives. We do not acknowledge that we did not do our due diligence to ensure our cheese did not run out. Some of us spend so much time chasing someone else’s cheese that we even share their frustration, blind to our own plight.
That rent you pay is cheese for someone else, the targets you meet is cheese for someone else, that salary you earn is as good as a slice of pity for your existence in a given organisation. Harsh, you think? What is in it for you? At the end of the day, what share of it can you bet on to be truly yours? Your talents and gifts lie unexplored because you are too busy growing someone else. It is a good start, but while there, what are you doing for yourself that will be that soft cushion for you to fall back on should your current supply of cheese be cut off. What books do you read for your own personal development? What value are the people in your network? What have you done to make sure that with or without a formal job, you will not go hungry or want for much? Truth is there is nothing much. We are not talking about the numerous degrees and doctorates acquired for no particular purpose than to be so studied without any significant visible talent developed. We are talking about enhancing capabilities such that wherever you go, you will leave your mark and all will credit the positive shift in circumstances to your particular skill or service.
So then, what is your cheese and where is it? Do not rely on someone to hand it over to you, rather look deep within yourself and find it and then pursue it. We all have that unique purpose, whichwill present to us an immeasurable supply of our own kind of cheese, as opposed to chasing someone else’s. And until we do something about it and adjust, we will always be dissatisfied and hopping around looking for that satisfaction. Find your cheese and help enough other people find theirs and you shall want nothing more.