Halfway through 2020, I was going through major changes in my life.
There was a massive shift that was about to take place which I had not anticipated yet.
The virus put a violent pause to my final year of school and this was where everything took a turn for me.
A turn for the better.
As my final school year came to a halt, I had many choices whirling around in my mind.
Changes were coming which I feared. Changes have never been something I was fond of.
Do I go to university? There's no way I can bring myself to do that.
Do I go the apprenticeship route? It seemed like my safest option at that time.
If it wasn't for the pandemic, it was the choice I would have most likely ended up in.
With both of those ticked off, there was only one thing that remained - taking a 'gap year.'
Taking a gap year was a terrifying choice at the time.
Being an introvert, I've never taken initiative for my own life, it's always revolved around my school friends and the illusion that wherever we go, we go together.
As everything came crashing in at once, I started to snap out of the fairytale I've been living in.
Things are getting serious now and it's time to take the driver's seat.
Over the next 6 months or so, drastic changes were occurring.
I still remember the time my first employer told me about the book 'Who Moved My Cheese.'
It was a defeating role that not everyone is cut out for.
I was not yet ready to climb this peak in my life.
A few weeks into that job I was ready to give up. One day, I dragged myself over to a park to take a break from the punches I had endured.
Door after door, rejection after rejection, my introverted soul can only bear so much.
I sat down and looked around, wondering how I've managed to get here.
Compared to my life a few months prior, It seemed like a fall from grace.
There were still a few hours before I was done for the day so I decided to finally open up my phone and download 'Who Moved My Cheese,' by Dr. Spencer Johnson.
My life had changed from that day on.
The lessons I had learned about change had shifted my perspective.
As I made my way home, I drowned myself in the audiobook and was in awe of the simple yet powerful lessons I was learning.
The lessons were so well structured, resonating with different parts of my personality through four different characters: Hem and Haw, the 'little people' and Sniff and scurry, the 'mice.'
Change leads to growth
One of the main lessons the author tried getting across through the life of 4 little creatures is that change can be uncomfortable, painful even, but it can also lead to growth.
What usually deters us from picturing the benefits we could reap if we embrace changes is the fear of the unknown and the tiresome mental effort needed in leaving what we know for what we don’t.
Over the past 10+ years, school was the only thing I knew.
Leaving this, although highly anticipated, left a void in me that I found difficult to fill.
This trouble often begins not when we find 'our cheese' (what we desire), but when we can find it no longer, as with the characters in Dr. Johnson’s story.
It explains why people refuse to be vulnerable to failure following a defeating attempt at a business venture.
Oftentimes, we even see it cruel that things should change.
We're so stuck in our old ways, that change seems meaningless and unnecessary.
“Why should we change?” Hem said at some point in the book. “We’re Little people. We’re special. This sort of thing should not happen to us. Or if it does, we should at least get some benefits.”
This is as familiar as it gets, yet we hardly recognize it.
The friction stopping us from rolling up our sleeves and getting back into the maze takes many forms.
Until we recognize and act on it, there’ll be no growth.
Embracing change is a sure-fire way of growing - both mentally and within our respective ventures.
The simplest way to think about this is to make an assessment of yourself.
Take an unbiased view and ask yourself, "Can who I am today achieve the things I want to achieve tomorrow?"
All of us have visions, or an unaddressed need, be it money, fame, happiness.
However, in order to achieve this, you must be willing to change and become the person you need to be to make that happen.
You need to be willing to grow.
Productivity lies in moderation
Dr. Johnson also introduced us to society’s concept of working hard on things even if it meant making little to no progress whatsoever, without realizing how in the long run, it could be detrimental to us.
We’re accustomed to believing that the curve of reaching unprecedented heights in our career or relationships - the journey of procuring our desired 'cheese' - is paralleled with doing whatever it takes that we’re often blinded by how ludicrous our approach towards it can be.
When I trace back to my marketing agency, I was hell-bent on one thing - finding clients.
This endless cycle made me lose sight of the bigger picture - building predictable systems that can be replicated - and focus solely on the output I was achieving.
Every day was the exact same, outreach, outreach, outreach. I became too accustomed to the output that I completely disregarded the result.
It felt like a hamster aimlessly running on its wheel without a clear goal or destination.
It is no coincidence that the author picked mice, creatures with comparable bodily functions to us humans, as the friends to the little people in his short story.
In other words: “You don’t have to be a mouse in adapting to change. Being a little person — scared, insecure, irrational — might be obscure, but if these emotions are pushing you towards more strategic, more emphatic ways to find your cheese, then the choice is easy.”
The author never meant for us to head out and blindly keep bumping into the endless obstacles in our maze of a life. Our delicate emotions are no match to mice’s, thus it is easy for us humans to get discouraged.
The solution lies in the balance.
The blend of irrationality and forging ahead worked well for Haw, in the story, and there is no reason why it couldn’t work for us too.
Dr. Johnson made this point even clearer when he wrote: “He [Haw] knew some fear should be respected, as it can keep you out of real danger.
But he realized most of his fears were irrational and had kept him from changing when he needed to.”
Taking a minute and thinking things through is not always unproductive.
In truth, it can be the difference between acting like a human and a mouse.
What is foolish is refusing to be responsible for changes altogether as they’ll affect us either way.
This is where smart work comes into play.
It's not always about how hard I worked, if I took a second to slow down and think about how I could change my approach and improve my results, I could have gone much further.
The world doesn’t owe us anything
It is important to remind ourselves that we are all dealt the same cards in life; therefore, no one is ever owed anything.
This does not mean that the world is unfair, but that it treats everyone equally.
Getting used to that is in our best interest.
No 'cheese' truly belongs to us because we aren't born with it.
We will always be in-between "cheese hunts." It could all be gone in a blink of an eye and the only sensible thing to do will be to seek out the next ‘cheese.’
Similar to how Haw found the mice, enjoying the luxuries of Cheese Station N, we must learn that the world does not pity slow movers and will prioritize those who realise there will always be an unexpected turn of events, accept the new paradigm, and move on.
In such a fast-moving, dynamic world, those who learn to adapt quickly are the ones who will succeed.
Its crucial we learn to accept the changes as they come because staying stagnant and complaining about change will help us in no way, shape, or form.
I understand how fast the tech landscape is changing, however, my only course of action is to keep playing the game and eventually overtake them.
There is no good done in complaining as this will only put the competition even further ahead of Hawk Prospecting.
Change, when anticipated, can be empowering
Change is more difficult when it is unanticipated.
Oftentimes, our throttling anxieties can magnify little changes to mean a big deal. Even more so when those changes are unexpected.
These changes are what leave a lot of people in their comfort zone, away from danger, away from growth.
The author conveyed this through the mice’s perspective. The mice, Sniff and Scurry, examined the levels of 'cheese' they had left every day before sitting down to enjoy it.
So when things went sideways, they weren't as shocked as their reluctant friends, the little people.
Our alertness goes a long way in helping us to control situations we find ourselves in.
If we make conscious efforts to analyze events as they happen, adapting accordingly can be enjoyable; the control we have over the episode, empowering.
Change is inevitable
The main and most important lesson I managed to pick up was that no matter where you are, who you are, or what your situation is, change will strike.
Change is inevitable and there's nothing we can do about that.
Instead of trying to influence things out of our control, we should focus instead on the things we can control.
You could be having the best time of your life and all of a sudden, everything changes.
You could be working for years and seeing crumbs of success, however, this can instantly change overnight.
Take a very famous and recent example - Beeple.
Beeple is a digital creator and artist who has been creating stunning pieces of digital art daily over the past 13 years.
There was nothing other than a passion for the craft that drove his endeavor.
A few months ago, shocking news surfaced that one of Beeple's pieces of digital art had sold for $69 million as an NFT.
13 years of hard work with little to no reward other than personal satisfaction all led up to this moment.
A singular moment in time that changed the entire course of Beeple's life forever.
Changes happen, it's in our best interest to ride the wave back to shore when it does.
It's impossible to anticipate most changes.
No one would have thought that in 2020 there would be a virus that wipes out more and more people every day.
Beeple didn't imagine that 13 years down the line, a single piece of artwork will become worth tens of millions of dollars.
When I got home that same day from work, I was left speechless and in my head from all the lessons and ideas I just picked up.
I immediately took my phone out of my pocket and sent a message over to my team manager.
The message read:
"Hi, I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to let you know that I'm planning on quitting this job. It is far from what I expected prior to getting it. I'm usually a fast learner, but the past 3 weeks and only 1 sale have proven to me that this is not something I want to carry on doing."
I never looked back after that day.
That's how entrepreneurs can embrace change and be successful.
These lessons were all derived from the book 'Who Moved My Cheese.'
To get the full picture and better understand the book, I recommend you purchase the book and give it a read.
It's been one of the most impactful books on me, and I'm sure that it would also change your perspective on change.
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I recommend you read about the 6 mindset qualities that can help you succeed next!
Till next time,