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A while back I had the opportunity to speak to a group of local business owners about the topic of change. I always enjoy these events for a couple of reasons. They’re obviously great prospecting and referral opportunities, but I also like hearing about other business owners’ challenges and offering up any advice I can.
I started by asking, “How many of you are really living the dream today?”
“Not someone else’s dream. Not what others think you should be doing, but the life of your dreams.”
Some shook their heads no. Others looked around the room or stared at the floor. Only one raised her hand and said yes.
How would you answer that question? Are you living the dream?
If not, what are you doing about it? Has it always been that way, or have the winds of change taken all the fun out of our industry for you?
Who Moved My Cheese? is a #1 bestselling book, originally published in 1998, by Dr. Spencer Johnson. At the time, it was wildly popular and marketed as a “management fable.” For those of you that haven’t been in Lit class for a few years, a fable is a made-up story created to deliver a message.
Who Moved My Cheese? is a fable about dealing with change. It’s about two mice and two tiny people living in a big maze spending their days eating cheese. One day, they head to their regular cheese eating spot, and their cheese is gone.
This comes as quite a shock for them. The mice are pretty simple minded. They don't overthink things. They don't allow fear and complacency to hold them back. They just shrug their little mouse shoulders, twitch their noses and head off to find new cheese. The tiny people are, well, they’re people.
They don’t know what to do. The more they think about their new situation, the more upset they get. They start feeling sorry for themselves. They start asking a lot of “Why me?” questions. They begin thinking they are owed their cheese. They consider taking action, but they don’t.
They’re comfortable with the status quo and don’t want to change. They’re also afraid to look for new cheese. What if something terrible is out there in the dark recesses of the maze? What if there’s a lot of work involved in finding new cheese? What if the cheese comes back while they’re gone?
So they do nothing, but whine and gripe. They just hang around and hope things get better.
However, more often than not, that's not the way change works, is it?
The key lessons of Who Moved My Cheese? are:
Now, I love all that, and I believe it all to be true. However, the story doesn’t go quite far enough for me.
Experience has taught me the key to happiness and success in life and business is not just about managing change. Managing change isn’t enough. I believe we should embrace change. I believe we should poke life with a stick! I believe we should go out of our way to create constructive change in our lives. Life is too short not to! It’s a precious gift.
You and I know better than the average mouse that life can be taken away from us at any moment. We are created with the expectation that we make the best of it. We are expected to leverage the gifts we have been given to fulfill our unique destiny. Anything short of that eventually leads to regret.
I’m sure you have all heard that the majority of people on their deathbed regret the things they didn’t do far more than things they did do. Not the dumb things they did. Not their mistakes. They regret the things they didn’t do! They regret they didn’t pursue their unique destiny.
Don’t make that mistake. Write your own story. Don't let anyone else do it. Don’t let fear determine it. Make your life an autobiography.
I’m willing to bet most of you have created change at least once in your lives. And I’ll bet things turned out just fine, didn’t they? It may have taken a couple of steps, but in the end you wound up in a better place. That’s cool. That’s what life is all about!
It’s about the relationships we develop and the amazing things we experience. It’s about fulfilling our own unique destiny and helping others fulfill theirs. For the most part, my life has been a blast. I have been very blessed, and things could have been very different. For me, it started with flipping pages in a college course catalog, closing my eyes, and pointing to choose my major. That’s a true story!
That simple action lead to a series of crazy, stupid-to-some, decisions in my life and career that led me to some of the most incredible experiences I could have ever imagined. All those great opportunities didn’t happen because I was so smart. Heck no! All those amazing things happened for me because I took action. I didn’t let fear and negativity hold me back. I wanted something better, and I did something about it.
Good things happened not because I adapted to or managed change, but because I created change.
I moved my own damn cheese!
So, I challenge you not to settle. Don't be complacent. Don’t be afraid. Shake things up. Poke life with a stick. Make your life an autobiography.
Move your own damn cheese.
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