September AMCI Book Review Corner

The AMCI Reading Corner is a crowdsourced resource share aimed to serve as a platform for the AMCI community to share book recommendations and reflect with personal takeaways. Starting with monthly postings, more ways to engage will be shared as the idea grows.
Richie O’Neill kicks us off by reviewing a classic, Who Moved My Cheese, by Dr. Spencer Johnson, available on Amazon here.


“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men often go astray”

The words of poet Robbie Burns welcome readers to a story about anticipation, awareness, and adaptation. Who Moved My Cheese? by the late Dr. Spencer Johnson, is by no means the most comprehensive business book, but it is a good read over breakfast. The story may not have all the answers to achieving success and happiness, but it does encourage imagination and self-reflection on a simple premise. The book is just one of dozens an association management professional may turn to for wisdom or inspiration. Welcome to the AMCI Reading Corner!

For what it's worth, “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing” could be my favorite Burns line, but it’s not clear if he truly penned it…
In Who Moved My Cheese?, Johnson, who also co-authored The One Minute Manager with Dr. Kenneth Blanchard, expands his theory that one’s approach to change is critical to achieving success, quickly and consistently. The book centers on a fictional story of four distinct characters pursuing their “cheese” or “success” in their own distinct ways. Representing simple and complex parts of oneself any reader can relate to, Johnson’s characters teach readers lessons with each instance of change they face. This builds towards a set of easy to implement principles of change Johnson calls “The Handwriting on the Wall”, and it only takes 45 minutes to read.

A book to be re-read whenever you need it
As a repeat reader, my biggest takeaway from the story is to practice mindfulness. I must command myself (usually by blocking my calendar with “Busy” or “Childcare”) to take time to personally reflect and set an attitude I am going to bring towards my day, week, meeting, or bath-time with two toddlers. It doesn’t come naturally for me.

The principle that rings most true to me is one we learn late in the story, “Enjoy Change!”. I find myself hemmed in more often than not, fearing change or uncertainty rather than embracing it. This leads to professional “yips” or an inability to achieve success. Things I found myself successful at such as producing industry events, guiding effective Boards, or supporting my team have drastically moved their cheese. I have found that sometimes saying “I have no idea what I am doing now” is the levity I need to laugh at how much this profession has changed and the pace at which it has done so in the past 18 months. The quicker I can adopt new strategies and the more often I can check in on how they are working, the more successful I will be because I cannot stop the cheese from moving, but I can work to find enjoyment in the adventure to find it.

The good part about this book, and most business books, it’s all about when and how you apply the teachings. My final thought is to apply your biggest takeaway from this book quickly, as often as possible, and don’t forget to laugh at yourself a little bit because you’ve been thinking about cheese this entire read.

Other perspectives I found valuable
Whether you ‘ve read the story or not, my favorite takes from the internet:
1. This graphic depiction, audible reading (whole story in 8 minutes);
2. A 10-min meditation on Impermanence by Calm’s Tamara Levitt (I am a habitual Calm app user); and
3. Let’s Go Together – A travel podcast hosted by Kellee Edwards from Travel Channel featuring diverse voices, each seeking their own “cheese” in the face of great change;

Coming next:
I’m thrilled to be the first to share, but there will be many more. More interesting, provocative, funny, heartfelt posts each month. I hope you will join us in the comments by sharing your own personal connections to this story, offering suggestions, and engaging again in October’s AMCI Reading Corner.

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