The Story Within the Story: Who Moved My Cheese

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Spencer Johnson uses a story within a story to attempt to catch the reader off-guard and ready for a teachable moment. In the context of a class reunion discussion, the friends begin to catch up and share what has happened in their lives over the years. Some have had success and others have had frustration in their lives. One Character had found the story of Who Moved My Cheese and credited that story as a rich source of help and guidance in navigating the changes of life. From the setting of revealed information, the author shares with the reader the story of Who Moved My Cheese. The story is written in a sort of Aesop’s fable context with two small people (Hem and Haw) and two mice (Sniff and Scurry). The obvious intent is for these four to represent the different ways that people deal (or do not deal) with change. In the context of a maze, the four would each leave in search of the cheese. The two mice sniff and scurry through the maze until they find the prize; they personify their names in their behavior. The two little people use their human traits to remember the maze and make their way to where they knew the cheese was waiting. The Crisis of the story happens when the previously believed unlimited supply of cheese was depleted. Now the two humans were at the disadvantage because they operated from the presumption that what was true yesterday would be true today unlike the mice who operated by instinct. The title of the book comes from the frustration of Hem who hollers this phrase. For some time he and Hem had avoided the “rat race” by walking directly to station C and having their fill of cheese rather than searching out a new way every day. With the cheese gone, Hem could not deal with the fact that he would have to loo... ... middle of paper ... ...this congregation into existence. People have observed very cynically that our mission strategy was to meet the German immigrants and have babies. Now the families are much smaller and there is not a flow of ships bringing Lutheran immigrants who need church homes. Johnson’s book is most helpful in anticipating the need to change but unhelpful in guiding how to change. With that observation in mind, I would use the story to illustrate that things do need to change, but there must be willingness and certainty to whatever change is chosen. Imagine how the story would have ended if Haw would have wandered around without finding cheese until he turned around to see if the cheese had reappeared at station C with Hem? In the same way, every congregation and members will be tempted to turn back and give the old way a try if the new path is not a direct line to success.
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