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GAIL WHITE Embracing change helps us to move forward



Published: Fri, July 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



"But we've always done it that way," I heard the store employee say.

"Well, not anymore," was the snappy response from a supervisor.

The scene may have been humorous if the look on the employee's face hadn't been so horrifying.

He was not happy about this change. In fact, he looked terrified by it.

It's odd that people are so resistant to change. After all, from cradle to grave, it's is an ever-present certainty.

Evidently that store employee is not the only person around with a status-quo mentality. Clearly, others struggle with change as well.

Dealing with change: A book titled "Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way To Deal With Change In Your Work And In Your Life" has been on the best-seller list for a better part of a year.

Business leaders are using it to create change in the workplace. Individuals are referencing it to deal with change on a personal level.

The book begins, "Once, long ago in a land far away, there lived four little characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. ..."

Two of the characters are mice, Sniff and Scurry. Two are little people, Hem and Haw.

Every morning, the four beings awake, put on their jogging shoes and run to find their favorite cheese.

Being simple-minded mice, Sniff and Scurry race about the maze using a trial-and-error method of finding cheese.

Hem and Haw, with their human brains, use a more educated approach. Often, however, their emotions and reasoning tend to complicate their search.

One day, all four came across a large amount of delicious cheese.

From then on, they returned to that section of the maze every morning.

Eventually, they moved closer to the cheese.

They were all very happy with their cheese, but there was a distinct difference in their behavior.

Sniff and Scurry still awoke early every morning, put on their jogging suits and tied their running shoes around their necks.

Hem and Haw started to sleep later in the mornings and, eventually, misplaced their running shoes.

None of them noticed the cheese pile diminishing. One day, it was gone.

Sniff and Scurry, with their simple mouse brains, untied their running shoes and went in search of new cheese.

Hem and Haw awoke stood in utter disgust and amazement. "Who moved my cheese?" They wanted to know.

That, of course, was followed by, "It's not fair!"

Symbolism: I laughed aloud as I read. It all sounded so silly and trivial -- little people, mice and cheese. Yet, the symbolism was jarring.

How many times have I complained, whined and grumbled over my "cheese" being moved?

Sometimes the cheese has represented big issues -- a job, a house, a child.

Other times I have grumbled over the least cheese movement, such as having to dial 330 to make a call or learning a new computer program.

Looking back, I usually find that the change wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. More often than not, I came to realize that the "new cheese" was much more wonderful than the old.

Some people are like Sniff and Scurry. When a change occurs, they deal with it and move on.

Others are like Hem and Haw, not only holding on to "old cheese" but too afraid to look for "new cheese."

Haw eventually becomes tired of complaining about the lack of cheese and resigns himself to the fact that it is not coming back.

"What would I do if I were not afraid," he asks himself. Off he goes in search of new cheese.

How different would our lives be if we welcomed "new cheese?"

How different would our Valley be if we had adapted and even anticipated change years ago?

Instead of greeting change with horrifying looks of dread, we must learn to embrace "new cheese."

gwhite@vindy.com




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